Recently Terry and I were able to visit Spain to check out a possible ministry partnership. Pastor Marcos Cespedes is the director of Esperanza Para El Corazon, Hope For The Heart ministry in Tomares… More
Spring has come to Arad! Just like back in Chicago it means one week it could be snowing and the next week flowers blooming, trees budding and the grass turning green with rain in the daily forecast. No matter what the weather one thing is sure, people enjoy the outdoors in Arad just like they do in Chicago.
Six men have now completed half of the Training Center, which began two months ago. Laurentiu Dasanu and his wife Maria Rosaria will transition the two churches he has planted in Italy to Vertical Churches. Ciprian Cociuba, an anesthesiologist who planted a house church in Yeovil, England, along with his wife, Veronica and 2 children, intend to transition this church into a Vertical Church and have a vision to plant more churches in England. Adrian Bobora, pastor of Emanuel Baptist Church in Sigheta Marmatiei, Romania, along with his wife Rebeca and 2 children, plan to transition this church into a Vertical Church. Christian Marit, along with his wife Lacrima and 3 children, leaders in Flame of Worship Church who started a ministry called The Ark to build up the body of Christ in Alba Iulia, are planning to start a Vertical Church in Romania, but are unsure of the location as yet. Finally, two courageous young men will transition two of the three churches Beniamin Podut started in Germany. Narcis Panc, single with a great passion for the Lord moved to Karlsruhe, Germany and began attending Beniamin’s church, is preparing to transition this church into a Vertical Church. Mihayi Andrus, a talented youth pastor and worship leader, along with his wife Ionela and their 8 month old son, felt called to leave Ireland to transition the church which Beniamin started in Schweinfurt, Germany.
What do these six men have in common? First, they have a great passion for the Lord and feel called to be pastors. Second, they have embraced the vision of building Vertical Churches to raise up disciples who worship the Lord for his glory. Finally, they all speak Romanian and will start or transition Romanian-speaking churches. This is a great challenge especially for those who live in a country where the people speak a different language. Pray for wisdom and guidance for these men and their families as they train to build Vertical Churches to reach not only Romanian-speaking people, but also those in the surrounding communities where they live.
“The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all your saints shall bless you! They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power, to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.” Psalm 145:8-12
As 2017 has come to an end and the new year begins, I find myself looking back in awe at what the Lord has done. So much happened to us! We moved into a small house from our mini-mansion on Lawndale in Chicago. Mike moved to Arad, Romania on Valentine’s Day. Elizabeth and I followed a month later. Just before moving we received a phone call that the woman who Elizabeth rear ended in November 2016 is suing, and the case is still pending today. Mike has been working in the training center for ten months and enjoying his new role. I was summoned for jury duty twice and was excused only by a letter from the training center in Romania. We watched our son Mike’s senior recital from Romania at 3:30 am, enjoying selections from classical to gospel to rock. We enjoyed our first family vacation in Europe in the Transylvanian mountains in Romania. After 6 months of car troubles, we are finally driving a VW cross polo that suits our needs well. Elizabeth graduated from high school and moved back to Chicago. To both my dismay and joy, I found myself an empty nester. In one unforgettable week, Elizabeth moved away to start college, Lydia lost a car window from a tree branch in a storm, and Matthew burned down the garage along with his old Honda CRX. The Lord turned our crisis into a blessing by providing a beautiful new garage, new tools and supplies, and a new used car. The following week, after numerous phone calls from Romania to Chicago, we found a locksmith to open the Pilot after Matthew locked the keys in it. We arrived back in Chicago on November 20th to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas with family. Thankfully, we were able to work at the Lawndale Christian Health Center for 5 weeks during our visit. We attended Matthew’s senior recital that truly was a time of worship to the Lord. Mike fixed the bathroom shower after he found that the water would not turn off. Finally, on December 15th, another unforgettable day in the Kijowski family, we attended our boys graduation from North Park University and celebrated Lydia and Dani’s engagement. We are amazed at all the Lord has brought us through in 1 year. It has been full of challenging trials, as well as great blessings, but through it all He has been with us guiding us. He is faithful to bring us through whatever trials and blessings come our way. We are learning how to trust Him with our children, with our finances and with our future. One final blessing in 2017 is that the Lord has provided all our financial support for the next year to continue the work in Romania! We do not know what other challenges, surprises or blessings the new year 2018 will bring, but we are sure of one thing, the Lord will be with us.
It is our prayer that whatever the new year brings you, that you will join with us to say:
“Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice! Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually! Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles and the judgments he uttered.” Psalm 105:1-5
Happy New Year!
Psalm 92:1-2 tells us “it is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to his name, O Most High; to declare his steadfast love in the morning, and his faithfulness by night.”
For Christians all around the world the month of November is dedicated to remembering and giving thanks to the Lord for all He has done. What blessings and answered prayers have you seen in your life over this past year? For what are you thankful?
We are thankful for the Lord calling us to Romania and those who sacrificially support us. We are thankful to work among a humble people dedicated to serving the Lord! We are grateful to take part in Harvest Arad’s Fall Festival as we made and sold french fries to raise funds for the building. We are thankful for the opportunity to serve in the nursery where a universal language is spoken by all. Yes, even fathers serve in the nursery in Arad! We are thankful that the Lord demonstrated his faithfulnes and great power by continually watching over our children in Chicago while we serve in Romania. We are thankful for a new garage and a reliable car. Most recently, we are thankful for the two work groups who gave their time, energy, talents and resources to building the church in Arad. We greatly appreciate the men of Harvest Palos and Racine Bible Church who hung drywall.
Finally, we are thankful for the opportunity to return to Chicago to spend time with family and celebrate all that the Lord has done in our lives over the past year.
Our hope and prayer is that you will “give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! Glory in his holy name; let the heart of those who seek the Lord rejoice! Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually! Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles, and the judgements he uttered.” Psalm 105:1-5
Mike and Terry
Summer has come to an end and it was full of unexpected surprises!
We participated in two Romanian youth camps and saw God at work in powerful ways. In the first camp more than 200 high school and young adult students spent a week in the mountains in Harghita, Romania. Each day was filled with fun games, crafts, challenges, karate classes, mountain climbing, and amazing messages about depending on Jesus our rock with powerful worship to our Lord. We saw over 150 students either rededicate their lives to the Lord or become Christians for the first time. Many shed tears of repentance and joy as we experienced the Lord at work changing lives. In the second camp 66 students ages 6-11 years old spent a week learning about Daniel’s uncompromising faith in God while playing water games, soccer, dodge ball, crafts, and yes, even a shaving cream contest! Can you recognize Jenn VanderVeen, our own from Harvest Palos, among the contestants? What a joy it was to shepherd such young hearts in the ways of the Lord!
Elizabeth, our youngest, started college at Olivet Nazarene University. Her roommate, Kylee, is a missionary kid who lived in Africa. Pray for wisdom and guidance as she learns to navigate college life and tries to discern what her focus should be as she is interested in art, psychology, education and music.
This summer we had the opportunity to serve at the local mental hospital with some of the members of our small group. One women introduced herself as “Hillary Clinton” though in person she doesn’t even resemble what she looks like on TV! 🙂 Here are some drawings that the residents made of their favorite vacation.
Finally, a few days ago the bulldozer demolished our burnt down garage in Chicago. What a long hard task it was for our boys to sift through all the rubble identifying and taking photos of all the items which burnt down in the garage! Our yard looked like a war zone. Our boys told Mike yesterday that they got him a new garage for his birthday!
Yesterday our mechanic here in Arad told us that he may have a car for us! We’ll give you an update as soon as we find out. Thank you for praying and supporting us as we learn to adjust to Romanian culture and language.
Mike and Terry Kijowski
In early August we sent Lydia and Elizabeth back to Chicago. Mike and Matthew returned 2 weeks earlier from their visit to Romania. For the first time in more than 25 years, we found ourselves alone. Empty nesters!? I cried on and off the next day as I realized that stage in my life, with my kids close around me had come to an end. But to my surprise I realized that the Lord has given Mike and me this special gift of time to rebuild and strengthen our marriage that has been worn down through our commitments to our kids, work and serving at church. We thank the Lord for his faithfulness in providing for all our needs, even those we don’t realize we have.
At midnight last night, my cell phone rang. Matthew had tried to call me, but he didn’t answer as I tried to call him back. Of course, I began to worry as I tried to contact both Lydia and Mike to no avail. About twenty minutes later, Mike texted me that the garage burnt down and that I should call Matthew. Though it seemed like an eternity, it was only one minute later I received the next text from Mike, “Matthew is ok dog ok truck ok house ok gate ok. Driving home.” Matthew was almost finished welding a piece to the floor inside his 1986 Honda Civic CRX when he heard a fire underneath the car. Fortunately he got out of the garage, but unfortunately, the car he had been restoring for the past 2 years is gone along with the garage and all the other things inside it. We are thankful that Matthew is unharmed, but sad that his car, the garage and all that was in it is gone. It was one week ago Mike shared his favorite verse with our kids from Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose.” Little did we know that one week later the Lord would test our faith in His promise. Pray for the Lord’s hand in the cleanup and rebuilding process.
It has been almost four months since my mom and I arrived in Romania, and almost five for my dad. We have been learning how to communicate with people with the little Romanian we know, how to cook with different ingredients and cooking appliances, and basically, how to act like Romanians. Here are some of the more recent highlights since we moved:
My dad ran his first half marathon in Europe!
In Romania, many sidewalks extend to the curb and are used as parking spaces for cars. When we went to the mall in Timisoara and couldn’t find a parking spot, my dad parked halfway onto the sidewalk… like a good Romanian!
Even if the sidewalk doesn’t extend to the curb, there is still a possibly that someone will park a car on it… This is the view of our sidewalk from our apartment window.
My siblings, Lydia, Mike, and Matthew, arrived in Romania two weeks ago! Our plan was to spend the day in Budapest after they flew in at 10 am. After a long and tiring turn of events, they arrived almost 12 hours late. We spent a few hours exploring Budapest (and waiting at KFC, checking the web for the status of their plane) before they arrived. Thank God all of our luggage was found and delivered!
We visited Brasov, Romania, this past weekend. Our family was joined by two Romanians: Dani, Lydia’s boyfriend, and Michael, Mike and Matthew’s friend from North Park University.
We stayed in two apartments down a small corridor… the parking lot was also very small!
During our visit to Brasov, we drove an hour away to Peles Castle.
We also visited Bran Castle and the city of Sighisoara.
We discovered that in Sighisoara, there is a point at which no trumpets are allowed… and you’re encouraged to throw them out in the the garbage conveniently placed by the sign!
Just kidding! But you really can misunderstand street signs; this is actually telling people to not honk their car horns. On Sunday, we attended the Harvest church in Brasov, and afterwards Matthew gave their piano player Beni a short lesson in playing gospel.
Even after living in Romania the past few months, we are still settling in. We just bought a pan to make pancakes on!
Something that might surprise you: water fountains in the park by our apartment don’t have buttons to turn them on – they just stay on!
This week, I attended my last flute and language lessons before I return to Chicago in August. Mike and Matthew will leave for Chicago this Sunday, and Lydia and I follow two weeks later. During those two weeks, my parents, Lydia, and I will go to the Harvest youth camp, and then my parents and I will go to the Harvest children’s camp. Once I return to Chicago, I will not have quite two weeks to settle in before moving into the dorms of Olivet Nazarene University. Yup, I’m starting college. Please keep my family and me in your prayers as we travel and experience more transitions.
The past three months have flown by. I missed posting some great photos. Here they are!
Enjoying a free day after Harvest U Europe with Harvest Palos friends Mike Ryan and Brad Whitla, on the rooftop of the local Christian radio station Joy FM.
Back in the training center with the 2017 Spring class, #7from7inthespring! What a great group! I love serving alongside them as well as with the HBF Europe Director, Ionica Martonfi.
On the weeks that the #7from7inthespring were not in session we hosted an open house event called Open Doors. On this weekend over 80 Hungarian pastors and church leaders came to experience and find out what it means to be a Vertical Church. Through these events, God has blessed us with many great men who have a desire for church planting.
Rob and Becky Willey came to teach in the training center. We are thankful to Harvest Davenport who graciously lent them to us for the week. I also had the chance to travel with them to Targu Mures.
Pastors Rob Willey and Doru Hriscu (Harvest Targu Mures) are two peas in a pod – see how they mirror one another! The weekend that we visited Harvest Targu Mures was their second week in a new location. It is a beautiful space converted from an old warehouse. Here are a few pictures of their new worship space and their worship leader, Marius and his family.
When I visited Romania two years ago, Marius and his wife hosted Pastor Ryan (Harvest Palos) and myself in their home for a launch team training meeting. They had just found out they were pregnant. Their daughter was born on Launch Sunday! It was great to connect with them again.
The day finally came when Terry and Elizabeth were able to join me here in Romania. Lydia was able to come for a short visit too. I am thankful for the blessing of my wife and children!
Yes, this is a selfie of me and Training Center Pastor Gilbert Ade. He is now the Pastor of Harvest Douala in Cameroon. About two months ago he and I went to the mall so that he could wire some money home to his wife. On our way back to the training center my car started making this horrible noise. I parked it and we got out. The nearby Gypsy teenagers, like bees on honey swarmed around Pastor Gilbert and started making derogatory remarks and touching him. Then one started to pull his hair! We quickly made our way across the street where I was able to get a taxi for Gilbert. Afterward I called for help about the dead car. The mechanic who sold me the car picked me up right away. The people of Harvest Arad have been very gracious to lend me their vehicles. During this time I’ve driven 6 different cars and am currently driving the silver Peugeot pictured above. I’m not sure I should be driving a car that I don’t know how to pronounce. The head gasket and the engine blew on the blue VW van. The engine on the VW has been rebuilt but I’m not convinced of its reliability. Please pray for wisdom and God’s provision for a reliable car.
Many thanks to Harvest Fort Wayne and Harvest West Olive for giving us Pastors Jamie Hart and Ken Gentzler, along with Grant Hart for the week. I really enjoyed their teaching but the most memorable moment was our journey from Budapest to Arad; we were driving a borrowed car through the worst hail storm any of us had ever encountered!
The joyous but sad day came; the #7from7inthespring graduated from the training center. What a great group of pastors! They are going to be sorely missed, but I am so excited about the churches God is planting and building through them. Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” in Matthew 16:18b. Harvest Palos friends, take special note of Pastor Alex who is standing with me in the blue striped shirt. I am so excited that he is going to meet all of you when he brings his family to Palos for his internship.
Three weeks ago we had an Open Doors event with pastors and leaders from Italy, Spain, Croatia, Serbia, Hungary and the Ukraine! Three of the church planters from the #7from7 training center class were able to bring members of their teams. The following week I had the opportunity to visit the Harvest in Brasov, Romania. I met with Pastor Cristi Cherechean and the leaders of his church for ministry evaluations. It was great to visit with old friends and to make some new ones.
God is good! In these past few months he has taken me and my family on a wonderful adventure. It has not been without hardships or tears, but it has been one filled with the joy of the Lord and with a first hand experience of his faithfulness.
My family is here! The feature photo is the arrival of my three oldest after a 12 hour delay and the loss of all four pieces of luggage. Please pray that “the lost would be found”. But God has given us the greatest gifts ever, himself and one another!
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Father’s Day? My first thought is of my father and how much I miss him. Even though it has been more than 13 years since he went to meet Jesus, I remember his smile and his smell. My father was a mechanic, and most days you could find him up to his elbows in dirty motor oil. Even after he showered each day, behind the fresh sent of soap was the faint hint of motor oil. Some days my sons Michael and Matthew work on their cars and they come in smelling like their grandpa. I love that smell!
What I remember most about my dad is that every night I would see him and my mom on their knees at the foot of their bed praying for me and my five sisters. Every Sunday I would find him faithfully serving at church.
My earthly father was the one who taught me to love my Heavenly Father. Through his example I learned to love God and to love others. In 1 Corinthians 4:14-16, Paul expresses his concern for those to whom he had become a spiritual father and encourages them to imitate him as he seeks to imitate Christ:
“I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me.”
Regardless if you are a spiritual father or a natural father, we are all called to live a life that points vertically to Christ and to our Heavenly Father. What do you remember most about your father? How can that point you to your Heavenly Father? How does that challenge you to be an example of Christ to others?
Today I celebrated my first Mother’s Day in Romania. I am thankful for my family who took me out for a special lunch. I am also thankful for my mother who daily sacrificed for me and my siblings and modeled the importance of God by faithfully taking us to church every Sunday. Remembering to thank our mothers for all they have done should not be limited to one day a year. Just as the Lord wants us daily to thank Him for who He is and all He has done, we should be thankful for our mother’s each day. A mother’s job never ends. Even when children become adults, mothers continue to be a listening ear and counselor, not to mention babysitters for grandchildren. How do mothers continue to find the energy to keep going? Galatians 6:9 tells us, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Our mothers looked forward to the future and celebrating our accomplishments. Many of our successes in this life were made possible because of our mothers’ tireless support, love and encouragement throughout the years. This Mother’s Day, let us celebrate the mothers the Lord has given us. Let us remember throughout the year to thank our mothers for all their hard work, their endless love and support, and for never giving up.
The month of May also signals the end of the school year and the beginning of graduation celebrations. The Training Center in Arad, Romania will also be celebrating the graduation of seven men who will complete their training. These men come from very diverse backgrounds, but each has a passion to use their gifts to help build the church. Alexander Tarasov, from the Ukraine, became a Christian at the age of 16 through the Jesus film. He began discipling students through small groups, a ministry which has continued to multiply. For the past 15 years he has been serving as a pastor at a large church in Kyiv, the capitol of Ukraine. He plans to plant a Harvest church in Kyiv. Beniamin Podut and his wife Monica moved to Germany from Romania and have planted three Romanian speaking churches there. In order to care for these churches, Beniamin travels more than 1500 kilometers each week. He is praying for God to supply additional pastors to help with this exhausting task. Kostas Lazaridis, from Greece, was a teenage atheist who became a Christian as a young adult. He is an electrical engineer by trade, but became pastor of a reformed church in Greece. Nebojsa Dolic became a Christian while he was in the military. He is currently a pastor in Belgrade, Serbia, and wants to transition his church to a Harvest where the focus is vertical and everyone is encouraged to serve.
Marin Sestak was the bass player in a famous Croatian pop rock band. He became a Christian and left the band to pursue the Lord’s call on his life. He is an evangelist who has been reaching out to the youth in Croatia and would like to plant a Harvest church there. Razvan Mihalcea is passionate about ministry, has been a pastor of different churches in Romania for 15 years, and would like to plant a Harvest church. Gilbert is from Cameroon, planning to become the pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel Douala, Cameroon. Join us in celebrating and praying for these men as they graduate and continue the work the Lord has called them to do.
“Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways! You shall eat the fruit of the labor of his hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.” Psalm 128:1-2
Happy Mother’s Day and Congratulations to all those graduating!