O ce veste minunata

Tonight (Sunday night) our church in Bucharest, Biserica Evanghelică Liberă Trinitatea (Trinity Evangelical Free Church), had its Christmas program. It was much like many Christmas Eve services I’ve been at in the U.S., with traditional Christmas carols and a short message. The candlelight carol was an old, traditional Romanian song, “O ce veste minunată” (“O what wonderful news”), and has an absolutely beautiful tune.

Here’s the lyrics, with my rather unpoetic translation:

1. O, ce veste minunată,
Din Betleem ni s-arată.
Că a nascut prunc
Prunc din Duhul Sfânt
Fecioara curată.
2. Mergând Iosif cu Maria
La Betleem să se-nscrie.
Într-un mic sălaș
Lâng-acel oraș
S-a născut Mesia.
3. Ce Domnul cel din vecie,
Ni l-a trimis ca să vie,
Să se nască
Și să crească,
Să ne mântuiască.
1. Oh, what wonderful news
Is shown to us from Bethlehem.
That a baby is born
A baby from the Holy Spirit
From the pure virgin.
2. As Joseph and Mary were going to Bethlehem,
in order to be registered.
In a small shepherds’ hut,
Close to that town,
The Messiah was born.
3. Whom the Lord, who is from old,
Sent to us, so that He would come,
To be born,
And to grow,
To save us.

Please let me know if the accented characters don’t display on your computer.

I’ve never heard this song in English. For those of you who are iTunes people, the song is available there for $0.99. Just search for “O ce veste minunata.”

Historical note: It was illegal to sing this song in public under communist rule in Romania, 1948-1989.

Grace and Peace

Missions Update

The following is from our e-mail update, sent this week to those who support us with their prayers and giving.

Dear Family and Friends in Christ,

“But the Lord said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” —2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” —Hebrews 13:5 ESV

The gospel contains both bad news and good news: The bad news is that apart from Christ we are dead in our sins, and cannot please God. The very good news is that Jesus took our place, taking the punishment that we deserved, so that by trusting in Him we can have eternal fellowship with God.

The gospel doesn’t stop there. God’s grace is as sufficient for us today as it was the day that we, by God’s grace, put our trust in Christ. Living in Bucharest forces us to be continually confronted with our inadequacies. Sometimes our weaknesses are in the area of culture or language—we don’t know where to go for something, or don’t understand a question some one is asking us. It is easy to fall back on “Imi pare rau, vorbesc putin romaneste” (I’m sorry, I only speak a little Romanian). At other times, we don’t feel up to the tasks that are before us, at school, church, or at home. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all and it is easy to get discouraged.

The Christian life isn’t all about God making things go smoothly for us. For the apostle Paul, his life was filled with persecution and hardships, but he was right in the middle of God’s will by experiencing these things. God continues to use our situations, weaknesses, failures, and even sins to remind us that His grace is completely sufficient for us.

“How does God in grace prosecute this purpose [of drawing us sinners closer and closer to Himself]? Not by shielding us from assault by the world, the flesh, and the devil, nor by protecting us from burdensome and frustrating circumstances, nor yet by shielding us from troubles created by our own temperament and psychology; but rather by exposing us to all these things, so as to overwhelm us with a sense of our own inadequacy, and to drive us to cling to Him more closely.” —J.I. Packer, Knowing God, chapter 21.

We are pleased to be serving Christ on your behalf in Bucharest, Romania. Thank you for your prayers and financial support that make it possible for us to minister here at Bucharest Christian Academy and in the Romanian Evangelical Free Church.

Serving our Lord,
Kevin & Shirley

Grace and Peace

Population #3 — European Demographics

Being that we live in Romania, here are a few thoughts about European demographics:

  • The population of many Eastern European countries is declining. This is due not only to low birthrates but also to high emigration rates. Many young, educated Romanians, for example, desire to move either to Western Europe or to the United States. I have known people with college degrees who could earn more money picking olives in Spain than working a business job in Romania. So they move if they can.
  • Many of the countries in Western Europe that have positive growth rates are growing primarily through immigration or high birth rates of immigrants. France, for example, currently has a moslem population that makes up 6% of its population. These are mostly North Africans. Among the under-20 age group in France, the moslems make up 20% of the population. Projecting this into the future, France could be a moslem-majority country by the end of the 21st century.
  • This amplifies the importance of missions to Europe! Which continent has the lowest percentage of Evangelical believers? It isn’t Africa, Asia, Australia, South America, or North America. It is Europe! The churches here need to be strengthened. Europe needs to be re-evangelized, or there could be a repeat of what happened to Asia Minor. The land to which Ephesians, Colossians, and Galatians were written (Turkey) is now 99% moslem. Don’t let the same thing happen to Europe.

European annual growth rates — Wikipedia


Grace and Peace

Missions Update 5 May 2006

My wife and I are missionaries in Romania with the Evangelical Free Church of America International Mission. We send out an e-mail update to our friends and supporters every couple of weeks. Here is part of our update for this week:

Dear Family and Friends in Christ,

The Mission of Bucharest Christian Academy
“BCA exists to provide a Christ-centered quality education primarily serving missionary and Christian expatriate families. BCA prepares students spiritually, academically, and socially, through a Biblical worldview, to face the challenges of living in today’s world. As a primary outcome of our mission, BCA students will be equipped to influence the world through Biblical thought, character, and action.”

By supporting us in our ministry of BCA, you are contributing to the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8). Consider the following:

  • The parents of BCA students minister in a great variety of roles with a number of mission agencies. Their work includes evangelism, leadership training, church planting, university work, orphanage work, and youth work. Many of these parents say they would not be in Romania if it were not for the ministry of BCA.
  • Many of the students at BCA are involved in their parents’ ministries. All high school students participate in community service projects.
  • Many missionary kids eventually become missionaries themselves.
  • Some of the students come from non-Christian families, and a number of these have come to faith in Christ through the ministry of the school. Many of the non-Christian families have come from Asian countries, such as China, Japan, and Indonesia.
  • The population of Bucharest is only about 1% evangelical.
  • In the bigger picture, Europe has a lower percentage of evangelical believers than any other continent. The need for workers in Europe is great!

You can see, therefore, that the ministry of BCA not only has an impact in the lives of its students, but on the country of Romania, and even throughout the world.

Prayer Requests
Thank you for your prayers for us as we visited churches in Farmington, Missouri and Oak Lawn, Illinois. We felt that both visits went well.

Please continue to pray for:

  • We are still in need of $1400 per month in support. This hasn’t changed significantly for a month.
  • Please pray as Kevin continues to contact scientists and researchers in industry, academia, and government with “a passion for science, science education, and the gospel.” This is our primary focus of making new contacts right now. Pray that he would also be able to make fruitful contacts through Christian professional organizations.
  • BCA is still in need of teachers for next year: elementary, secondary English and math.
  • Shirley is coming up on her last week of her Introduction to Counseling Class at Covenant Seminary. She is working on several papers, and then needs to take the final exam.
  • We are presenting our ministry at our home church, Christ Community Church in St. Louis on May 7th.
  • We are presenting our ministry at Rockport Baptist Church in Arnold, Missouri on May 14th.
  • We are meeting with the missions committee of a potential supporting church on May 16th.

Grace and Peace