Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Farewell Penny!

The end sometimes comes all too suddenly. Such was the case as Penny Mann, our GSC colleague, finished her three-year ministry at the Gandhi School in Pecs. Three years ago Penny arrived as a shy, unassuming young woman who accepted the challenge of living in a second culture (Hungarian) and working with teenagers within a third culture (Gypsy). Penny stepped immediately into the classroom to teach conversational English, assumed responsibility for weekly on-campus Bible studies with the students, became a class sponsor and visited in many Gypsy homes, played soccer on as many teams as her stamina would allow, and directed the Photography Club. She left Hungary last week as an assertive and confident teacher who had earned the respect of her school director, had gained the friendship of many of her peers on staff and more importantly, the love of her students. Those students gifted Penny with a journal of goodbye notes and drawings describing the impact she had had on their lives. I (Ralph) was privileged to read these and stand more convinced than ever that Penny became a conduit of God’s love for these Gypsy kids. You will find one of these notes from Timi below.

Penny went from being a colleague to becoming a friend to becoming a family member in the Stocks household over these past three years. She has impacted each of us individually. She shared in our celebrations and disappointments. We are enriched by her friendship and we will miss her deeply. We wish her God’s greatest blessings!

Written by Gandhi student, Timi:
"My best friend Penny,
How can I start it? I found in you a REALLY good friend, who is so special for me. You gave to me a lot of love from you and helped to me many times. I never forget it! You have to remember always smiling, because if you smiling your life will be the best in the world! I’ll be miss you so much!
You know you meaning for me a lot, you are my second sister, so close to me, I can’t believe I loose you! You have to know you always be my best friend and sister! I hope you felt my love, because I always wanted to know do you feel it. I tell you a secret: I love you so much better like my mother, this is really true because I can’t love her much like you. I don’t know why, but it is true!! Oh God! YOU ARE THE BEST IN THE WORLD! I never seen person like you!! When I wrote this I was think about the last things what we did together. Who is forever love you – Timi"

Monday, June 18, 2007

Article from CBF

FBC Greenville partners with Stocks to provide church for Roma congregation

By Patricia Heys
CBF Communications

ATLANTA – When a new communion table was presented to the Roma church in Kekcse, Hungary, fingerprints and smudges covered the tabletop.

On the previous Sunday, the table had been blessed by members of First Baptist Church of Greenville, S.C., who laid their hands upon it as they prayed. First Baptist member Danny Butcher built the table, which the South Carolina church gave as a gift to the Roma congregation.

“First Baptist and the mission team felt the table was a symbolic way to share Christ's love that goes beyond financial support and physical improvements to the church,” Butcher said. “The emotions of the moment were of amazement that all of the details in designing, building and transporting the table came together, and that God made it happen.”

The Romany people are a minority in Hungary, who experience discrimination not only socially but by government systems and religious bodies as well. For Roma congregations like the one in Kekcse, which had outgrown the house it was meeting in, there are many hurdles to finding a building for worship.

Ralph and Tammy Stocks, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Global Missions field personnel serving in Hungary, connected First Baptist with the congregation in Kekcse, and last year the South Carolina church helped purchase a church building.

With the Stocks facilitating the partnership, First Baptist members have not only invested financially in the Roma church, but have invested emotionally and spiritually. This spring, 13 First Baptist members spent a week in Kekcse renovating the church building – pouring concrete pads, constructing a fence and outhouse, adding a new roof – and building relationships. During their week in Hungary, First Baptist members led worship at four Roma churches.

“The experience cannot be expressed adequately in words or pictures,” said First Baptist member David Causey. “One must experience this sort of partnership ‘hands-on’ to fully grasp the emotional and physical needs of the Roma people. Ralph and Tammy prepared us exceptionally well, and it was important to have some sense of context going in.”The partnership with the Kekcse congregation was not the first one for First Baptist in Hungary. The Stocks also facilitated a partnership between First Baptist and the Gandhi School, a school for Romany children in Pecs, Hungary.

“We saw a need for the Roma to worship in a building they could call their own,” said church member Jim Childress, who has made several trips to Hungary. “The partnership in Kekcse provided another means for church members with specific skills to minister to the Romany people. If you go there and you work for a week or even a day, it comes to you very quickly how little the Romany have and ever hope to have.”

Glen Adkins, First Baptist’s current music minister, also traveled to Kekcse. Adkins and his wife, Clista, will be commissioned at the CBF General Assembly in June to serve at the Gandhi School.

“A partnership is about more than bricks and mortar,” said Ralph Stocks. “The result of the week was not only new construction, but new and personal relationships with Roma church members as well as community residents. Every team member took with them faces and names that they will long remember and for whom they will often say prayers.”

To learn how your church can partner with the Stocks or other field personnel around the world, contact Karen Gilbert at (800) 352-8741 to kgilbert@thefellowship.info.

CBF is a fellowship of Baptist Christians and churches who share a passion for the Great Commission and a commitment to Baptist principles of faith and practice. The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.

Friday, June 8, 2007

English Is Fun!! Pray for Camp.

Please pray for the group of young people and their leader, Scott Ford, arriving June 12 from Haven Fellowship in Conyers, GA. They will do a week of camp for the English students from the Gandhi High School in Pecs, Hungary. Ask God to give them opportunities to share their faith. The group of 30 students, 10 team members, a translator, Ralph, Penny, and visiting Gandhi staff will total 43 at the sleep over camp. From the pictures you can tell last year's camp was a great deal of fun. The kids have been anticipating this year's for several months. It was a coveted invitation! Pray for safety for all. Pray for the evening devotional times - that the Haven team can communicate God's love to the Roma students. Pray that the students can forget about everything else but improving their English and having a good time. Ask God's hand to be upon this ministry - June 15 -20.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Snapshot of Roma Life

Ralph and our ministry partner, Tivadar, traveled to northeast Hungary recently to visit a few of the Roma families and missions. The purpose was to encourage them and plan for the future.

Natasha and Tibi graciously offered for Ralph and Tivadar to stay with them. We have found that the Roma culture has a strong sense of hospitality and they readily open their homes to friends. You may remember a story we told not long ago about Natasha and Tibi's wedding. They chose to show their faith to others in their village by legally becoming husband and wife even though a loop hole in the Hungarian tax law makes it more advantageous financially to simply live together. It was a big step.

When supper time approached there was no offer of food for the guests or for the family. The next day again, very little was offered. Natasha and Tibi are struggling to provide for their family. Neither is able to find work and their government assistance has been cut back due to their legally married status. This means they often run out of money by the end of the month. As soon as this information was discovered, Tivadar and Ralph were in the car speeding off to the nearest grocery. They filled the cart with nutritious food and a few treats. It was an answer to prayer for Natasha and Tibi who literally live without knowing from day to day how they will feed their children.

Thank you CBF supporters! It is through your donations that money is available to provide for emergency needs. It is through you that prayers are answered.