This post is shared by Rick Steenbok, Communications and Projects Coordinator for The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) Eurasia Region.
GEO Missionaries met in Kosice, Slovakia for their Fall 2013 Gathering from October 11–14. Area Facilitator David Fiala organizes this event twice a year. The goal for the weekend was to spend time together in prayer, fellowship, encouragement, sharing ministry successes and frustrations, and in worship. GEOs in attendance were A.J. Davis serving in Kosice, Slovakia, Sarah Berta-Somogyi serving in Gyor, Hungary, Melissa Karges serving in Sopron, Hungary, Margaret Lewis serving in Trinec, Czech Republic and D.C.E. Intern Kendra McNatt serving in Frankfurt, Germany. Also in attendance were Rev. David and Lois Mahsman serving in Wittenberg and Berlin, David Fiala serving in Zilina, Slovakia and Communications & Projects Coordinator Rick Steenbock serving the region from Oberursel, Germany.
One main focus for the gathering was Luther’s Small Catechism. The grouped talked about using the Catechism in daily prayers. David Fiala is also working on a Master’s degree in Theology with his focus on Luther’s Small Catechism. He provided an update on his research and the group discussed the impact that the book has had on the Church throughout the Reformation as well as today.
On Saturday, the group had an opportunity to interact with some of A.J. Davis’ students. The students were able to practice the English they have learned as they served as tour guides around the city of Kosice. This also provided an opportunity for members of the gathering to get to know these young people and share more about Christ and the LCMS.
Said Melissa Karges, serving as a teacher in Hungary, the weekend was a great reminder of “how God chooses to use such a variety of people and situations to share His message. No matter what kinds of challenges pop up or ways we think we’re controlling situations, the Lord is still going to accomplish His will.” She added that
it is really refreshing to be around other people who understand you in a way that the people you interact with on a daily basis do not. These are people who speak the same language (at the same pace and with equal understanding), come from the same cultural background, and have a similar set of values, but who now also live under a set of circumstances very similar to your own. It creates an understanding and openness with one another that few people can understand. Just that short amount of time is enough to encourage and rejuvenate you to head back out to where God has called you to serve His people.
Sarah Berta-Somogyi added that by meeting with one another, there were many opportunities to learn about the work being done throughout the region by fellow participants, as well as other Eurasia Region missionaries. She said, “I really enjoyed hearing about how ministry is done and how the Gospel is shared in other parts of our region.”
On Sunday, Rev. David Mahsman led worship for the group that included the Lord’s Supper. This service was especially important as the GEOs were able to have it in English. This is not always available in the places where they live. The weekend wrapped up with a time of individual and group prayer. Melissa explained that the worship service was especially meaningful due to the fact that she normally worships in a different language:
For as much as I understand what happens in church here in Hungary, getting to occasionally have church in English is just good for my soul! When I can sing songs with full gusto in a language that my heart fully grasps, it is something truly beautiful. As these gatherings are quite small, there is a greater intimacy with the people you’re worshiping with, and it is a nice change from the much more “private” experience I get in Hungary. It is always good to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, and certainly a great pleasure and privilege to be able to do so with a group of people you’ve grown especially close to.
Sarah added that “I always love worship at gatherings because it’s in English (although I can understand everything in Hungarian too, it’s just nice to worship in English once in a while) and because our group is so close that it’s neat to worship together in such a familiar atmosphere.”
- Please pray for all of the GEOs as they continue to serve in their places. Pray for strength, encouragement, friendships, and opportunities to proclaim the Gospel through teaching the English language, or serving in churches.
- Pray for the people of Germany, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic that they would be open to the Gospel and brought to the faith.
- Learn more about the GEOs by reading this article about going back to school and this Missionary Profile about Kendra McNatt.