As a missional community, our calling is uniting and equipping leaders to collaborate in spreading the Gospel within communities which are particularly hard to reach in Central Europe and elsewhere. Central Europe has a long Christian history. In Hungary, historians point to the first church building in Budapest being established in the Roman civilian city of Aquincum in the late 4th century. Hungary became a Catholic nation with the crowning of its first king, Istvan, in 1000. The reformation came early to Hungary with a Bible being translated in Hungarian in the mid 15th century. But since the Hapsburg times and the horrific events of the 20th century including communist rule for most of the 2nd half of the twentieth century, Christianity (whether Catholic or Reformed) in Hungary had become more of a national religion than a Gospel preaching movement. With so many beautiful churches, such a long history and many people thinking that to have one’s family on a membership roll (of either the Catholic or the Reformed church) the number of people who have actually decided to follow Jesus is small, an even smaller number are the actual disciples.
CEO is committed to making disciples and mentoring leaders. In Hungary, we are doing this in three cities: Vac, Budapest and Szeged. We are, through regular visits and conversations, providing mentoring and leadership development to these leaders. In Vac, our partners are involved with two schools (one deaf and one hearing), a private English language school, and two churches (one hearing and one deaf). They are also involved in sports ministry and a big part of building a youth baseball team as an outreach to youth in their town. They are collaborating with two other missionaries in the sports outreach. In Budapest we have two teachers who, in addition to their teaching responsibilities at a secondary school, are involved in leading small group in their churches. All of our teachers have two primary objectives: teaching English, and living the Gospel to their students and their faculty colleagues in their state schools.
In South Budapest, CEO has partners who have planted a thriving church and are involved ministry to both the homeless and an ongoing outreach to prostitutes, all of this as outreach of this 2 1/2 year old church. They also planted a church about 60 miles from Budapest in 2013.
In Szeged, where CEO began it’s outreach in 2000, we continue to be involved in the city even though we have no revenue partners there. Through collaboration and relation CEO works side by side with leaders and ministries in preaching the Gospel. Since our work there actually pre-dates CEO’s founding, we have built relationships and credibility in Szeged and are called upon to work with folks and speak to various groups around the city. We have several mentoring relationships with leaders there in Szeged. God is blessing our work among leaders there including two pastors and a university chaplain. In 2006 a CEO partner (no longer on the field) started a university Bible study, we encouraged a British couple who lived in Szeged to take over the leadership of this ministry. As this fellowship of English speaking international students has continued and developed many students from about 15 nations who study at the university in Szeged have learned the Gospel and had the opportunity to receive discipleship.
In Serbia, we are working to provide pastoral support to a leader who has planted and oversees four Bible study groups in four different towns: 2 in Hungary and 2 in Serbia. We provide them with mentoring and work together on events which gather several of them together for a celebration providing which provides this ministry with new energy. God is giving us growing favor among the believers there.
In Croatia, CEO has been involved since 2003 when we first visited and began collaborating with local leaders. In 2004 we partnered with a Macedonian missionary to help fund a farm project on land which had been cleared of mines from the war in the early 1990s. This was a project which was intended to provide jobs for people in the nearby church in Vukovar (which a 2011 BBC report called the Stalingrad on the Danube). When the leader was called back to Macedonia, we collaborated with leaders and help facilitate a new pastor for this church. We provided pastoral support and mentoring to this young leader who led the church from a plant into a more established church.
We were introduced by the pastor in Vukovar to a missionary family that was also working in eastern Croatia in outreach. This missionary family had been placed by an humanitarian aid mission but were staying long term in church work; they joined the CEO family soon afterward. They are now involved in church leadership and outreach to three towns using sports and English to support the church’s gospel outreach. This couple is working hard to disciple not only young people but those who have been in the church for a long time and are now being discipled and led in a fresh Gospel witness to this small community. These leaders were instrumental yet in another family joining the CEO family.
In Ukraine, we are working with four ministries who are involved in the abandoned children problem. Our main impact is through encouragement, mentoring and consultation to two ministries that have six shelters and a over a hundred children. We continue to monitor and encourage the progress of the Stream of Love Camp for whom we worked to provide funding to purchase the camp property for the church union in 2002. The camp provides not just a summer ministry of discipleship and fun to children and youth of the church and the community, but has also provided annual training weeks for the elderly and for the handicapped. We are also working with a ministry that focuses on providing training to workers in community who work with at-risk children. Lately, we are working closely with a consortium of ministries dedicated to the end of the problem of abandoned children. This ministry is working with similar ministries to begin a joint effort among many ministries to collaborate on working together on the worldwide problem of street-kids and orphans. We are grateful that God has given us the opportunity to encourage these indigenous ministry efforts.
In South Africa, our partners are part of a church leadership team in a church they helped plant in 2007. Today, as the church is now established, CEO’s folks are working in the townships teaching the poor, especially those who are HIV sufferers, how to grow fresh vegetables on their small plot of ground outside their tiny homes. These vegetables are essential to the efficacy of the anti-retroviral drugs these folks take. This work is a pure Gospel work as this Virginia couple show and speak about Jesus to some of the most hurting of people. These partners are training nationals to do the work of teaching people how to plant gardens while they disciple them as followers of Jesus.
The CEO family of leaders are teachers, pastors, and organizational leaders who are committed to living among people so as to bring the Gospel of Jesus to life in hard to reach cultures. As a missional community, we are touching over three thousand lives with the good news of Jesus’ life, teaching, death, burial and resurrection. We are committed to caring for people through mentoring, discipleship and spiritual formation. We are seeking to obey Jesus and make disciples. Indeed, as it was well said by Oswald Chambers: “The job of the missionary is not to be useful or win souls, the job of the missionary is do do the will of God.”