We are doing this to make updates and sharing of information easier and more effective. We want to reach a wider network of people with the stories and adventures that we are a part of through the missional work that we do. Over the next few months we’ll be slowly wrapping up www.armitagecafe.com. It will be a sad day but probably a necessary one.
So please check out the new Facebook page…you can like it and follow it for all your Armitage Cafe news and updates.
It’s been a bit of a crazy few months for us in regards to church. Back in2006 we helped plant Mozaika church here in Nitra. At the time there was no evangelical church in a city of almost 100,000. Today it is a growing and thriving church of almost 100 people. It is also planting another church in a town close by which shows that there is good life and momentum present. This was an exciting and trying time of our lives but one that we are glad we were involved in.
Over the last few years I have said, “I don’t want to be a pastor.” Dangerous words for any one called to the ministry. I’m not sure why I uttered them but I was convinced that my calling was to training, education and more managerial style ministry. It seems that God is not without a sense of humor. Back in 2012 we met the pastors of the Bratislava International Fellowship, John and Daralena Bean. They are Assemblies of God missionaries from Springfield, Missouri and are great people. Two times that year we went and preached at the church and got to know the international community. It was an interesting place with people from all over the world gathering to worship and fellowship together. The nice part for me was that it was all in English!
In September, John confided in me that they would be going back to the USA for a year to 18 month furlough. I told him that we were open to helping them out during their absence. What I should have said was that we were willing to preach once or twice every few months! Instead what started was a journey towards Anna and myself becoming the interim pastors of BIF. After much prayer, discussion and soul-searching, we came to the conclusion that this was the right thing for us to pursue. We didn’t feel like we were to leave Nitra yet so we agreed to interim for three months until our upcoming trip to Canada (March, 2013).
Our role started in December after an amazing transition and send off for the Bean family back to the USA. With much fear, a bit of nerves and lots of prayer we found ourselves as pastors of the international community. From never wanting to pastor to now being responsible for the spiritual care and growth of 0ver 30 expats and nationals, it has been a crazy time. The truth is, we love it. I’ve rediscovered some gifts and passion for preaching and leadership that I had put on the shelf whilst in Slovakia. We have a great community of people who are willing to serve and get involved. They have made our first 2 months incredibly fulfilling and easy to manage.
At this point we are only responsible for the Sunday services. We still have a month to listen to what God wants us to do. If we are to take the church on full time then that will mean some big transitions, including a move to Bratislava. Right now we are driving 2 hours every Sunday just for the services. God is giving us a heart for the international community and the city and so we are waiting and seeking His will as to what our next steps are.
It’s only been two days since the kids went back to school, I went back to a full work load and the house and family went back to “normal.” After a busy and hectic summer and our first family holiday as the five of us, we have been launched into autumn full steam ahead.
Here are a few things we would like to highlight:
1. Livia has surgery to have her adenoids removed. According to the ears/nose/throat specialist, Livia has enlarged adenoids and needs to have them removed in order to improve her health and overall wellbeing. This means she and Sheldon will be spending two nights in a hospital as she will be having full anesthesia before she goes under the knife. Please pray for a successful surgery and recovery for her.
2. Trips, trips and more trips. Sheldon will be traveling to Spain and Ukraine; Anna, Sheldon and Stella will be traveling to Estonia; and the whole family will be traveling to Turkey. All of these trips are related to our work with Eurasia Now and The European Freedom Network. Please pray for strength for the family and protection during the journeys.
3. Anna starts her second year of studies. After excelling at her first year of studies while pregnant and then having a newborn, Anna is returning to university with a renewed focused and energy. Please pray that she continues to excel in her studies and work and that she is able to integrate more of her studies with her work in fighting human trafficking.
4. Missions and Innovation. We hope to launch INNOFUND by October. This new initiative has been developed by Sheldon and Doug Watson to increase missional innovation and funding in our region. As well, Sheldon is working on a few new initiatives to see churches planted, leaders trained and new outreach launched with our Eurasia Now Global Workers. Please pray for wisdom, revelation and resources to be made generously available to him as he does these things.
5. Family Fun. Mia started second grade; Livia started her second year of full time kindergarten and Stella is starting to teethe! Please pray for the girls that they will be safe and healthy as well as good examples of Jesus’ love to their classmates.
Please stay in touch and check this space for further updates soon.
Since 2010, Anna has been involved with a newly developed and growing network in Europe called the European Freedom Network. They exist to help the body of Christ in Europe work together effectively to prevent and combat human trafficking and sexual exploitation, and to seek the restoration of its victims. The EFN is a venture of the European Evangelical Alliance and includes members from all across Europe who are engaged in many different ways of combating human trafficking and sexual exploitation. These members represent well established ministries to a few individuals who bravely go out into the streets to identify those caught in this terrible problem.
In June, we were part of a consultation for existing and new EFN partners in Bankia Bulgaria. The theme of the conference was “Building a Bridge to Freedom” and it was an intense time of facilitated group work. Sheldon had originally been consulting on this project by helping the EFN Core Team organize and deliver the consultation but during the time in Bulgaria he was also asked to be a co-facilitator. It was an exciting but challenging time as he helped lead seasoned practitioners and ministers through engaging exercises and group work. Anna was involved in capturing the stories of the consultation as well as participating in a working group and caring for Stella, Overall the consultation produced loads of information and from that a big picture started to emerge which shows us where people are working, where there are gaps and where they can be co-operating more.
It was also during this week that we were asked to consider joining the Core Team of the EFN. This team is responsible for coordinating the efforts of the network, facilitating the work of its members and helping to delivery resource, encouragement and support for people doing the work on the ground. It was a huge privilege for us to be invited on the team and so we have accepted, giving a few days a month at this point to serving EFN. We did not think this would be the way we would engage in this issue but God knows how to orchestrate things for his glory. It is a great opportunity for us to connect our PAOC global workers into a larger network of people working in Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation as well as share the stories and raise awareness here in Europe and in Canada.
This is a picture from the new Jules Verne display at our local mall. It is elaborate and just one of many such exhibits that have been on display throughout the year. Sadly, the city centre is dead, replaced by glass and modern designed shopping centres. Society is starting to orient itself to this reality as the mall has become the new community centrr here in Slovakia. Confers, art shows, kid’s activities and other events once held in cultural houses or hosted by churches are now the domain of stores and capitalism. The question becomes now, how do we do mission in the malls? Forget the city centre or old marketplaces. We need to set up shop where the shoppers are.
It’s been awhile but here’s the latest happenings over the last 2 months or so…The first is the most important to us, the arrival of Stella Beatrice Armitage! She was born 22 February at 10:15am and weighed in at a healthy 3.6kg. Anna had a quick but painful delivery at the Topolcany hospital (that’s now Anna’s, Livia’s and Stella’s birth hospital!) and we had to stay for four extra days because Stella had a case of jaundice that needed treatment.
The last 5 weeks have been a blur of sleepless nights, belly aches and learning to live with three kids but it’s been a joy. Mia and Livia love their new little sister even if all she does is, “eat and cry” according to Livia. I am now a King according to Slovaks and their fairytales (“Once upon a time there was a king who had 3 daughters…) which may or may not last long as I am pretty sure this will be a feminine kingdom.
The old news is that we were able to help run a very successful Valentine’s Day event with our pastor Miro and his wife Marta Toth here in Nitra. We were approached by the Slovakia National Marriage Week organizers to participate in their different events because of our work with ALPHA Marriage. It was a great opportunity to build relationship and influence with this predominantly Catholic initiative to strengthen marriages.
The event featured a ALPHA Marriage video which invited people to the upcoming Marriage Course (May 2012) as well as gave hints and tips for a healthy marriage. We also ate great food, had a fun marriage game and celebrated our love for our spouse. We had a great turn out of 14 couples which far exceeded our expectations. This included Christian and non-Christians which was also positive. We really see investing in marriages as a great way to continue to see God’s Kingdom revealed in Nitra.
We are attempting to change the face of innovation in missions…no small task but one that needs to take place. INNOFUND is a new initiative for our Global Workers that will encourage them to innovate and collaborate together on simple, sustainable solutions. INNOFUND was designed by Sheldon and Doug Watson and we want to launch it by MAY 2012.
We need your help to do this. INNOFUND will cost about $41,000 to fully launch though we need to raise $20,000 for stage 1. If you want to make an investment in this incredibly innovative project then please contact us directly or you can give through the PAOC to Account EUR7002.