Monthly Archives: June 2009

The New Vehicle Arrives!

 The New Smile Kosova 4x4

Just a quick post to say that the new Smile vehicle has arrived in Kosova!  Keith and Steve arrived safe and sound last night, you can find details of there drive across Europe from Kent to Kosova here.  Ang and I are looking forward to coming home and breaking her in 😉

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Smile Scottish Roadshow Report June 2009

Kirkwall Baptist - Paul & Ang (Small)

So for the second time since we arrived in Kosova, we flew out from Prishtina airport back to Scotland, with a quick changeover at London Gatwick.  Arriving late Friday night, we stayed with friends in Glasgow and visited old friends at a church in Edinburgh.  We shared a bit about our work and motivated people to pray, before we drove up to Aviemore on the Sunday evening.

Monday: Kincraig, near Aviemore

Ang & Cairngorm Snowman in JuneAngela’s bit: We were welcomed by the church where I grew up to share at their regular missionary prayer evening.  These people are so faithful in their prayers, I know that they have been praying for me since the age of 9 when I first started going to church.  This group meets once a month to pray for the work that goes on around the world and have committed to add us to their list of missionaries.  We had a lot of fun during the day, going up to the top of Cairngorm to visit a friend who works there for some lunch (the highest restaurant in Britain) – the views are stunning, on a clear day you can see across Scotland to Ben Nevis.  On the day we visited however, the 8th of June – summertime – the clouds came in and it started to SNOW!!  Very exciting!  I went out to play, of course – it had snowed heavily over the weekend and the staff had built a snowman.  I asked someone to take my photo as otherwise I didn’t think people would believe me.

Paul also enjoyed the scenery, this was his first time up the hill – I think the carrot cake secured his love for the place though.

Poo Project?

We were also able to catch up with my brother, which was great.  We spent the morning together, then he came along to our meeting in the evening too, helping us to set up and clear away.  I don’t get to spend much time with him, so it was great to have the day together, praise God.

Tuesday-Thursday: Orkney

We drove the 300 miles through the beautiful countryside of the north of Scotland mainland, catching the ferry from Scrabster to Stromness in the Orkney Islands.  The ferry crossing itself was smooth and uneventful, only taking about 1.5hrs from port to port.  We stayed with my mum and her husband Ali, and our first port of call was to BBC Radio Orkney to do a pre-recorded interview with Dave Gray’s morning show “Around Orkney” to advertise our two speaking sessions.  I’d almost forgotten how great the Orkadian accent is!

CGC - Ang (Small)

The following evenings we spoke at two churches, Kirkwall Baptist and Christian Growth Centre, where we were warmly welcomed and people took great interest in the work that we are doing through Smile International in Kosova, and praising God for the growing church there.

Friday: Glasgow

Travelling south – Ang felt a bit sea sick on the ferry (although coffee and a bacon roll helped!) and then drove all day to get to Glasgow, arriving just in time to catch the last 10 minutes of our friend Rachel’s VSO fundraiser concert.  We were also able to stop off en route to visit Ang’s cousin Natalie and her husband Craig who we haven’t seen since before they got married in August, so it was great to see them in their new home.

Saturday:

Kosova Coffee Morning - Paul (Small)Ang writing: We really enjoyed our Kosovan Coffee Morning at St Silas Church, the church we were attending before we left for Kosova.  We shared some Turkish Delight, Kosovan praise music, a slideshow of our work and a video of Smile’s work in Kosova, and had the opportunity to spend time chatting to people who had come to hear about Smile.  Smile Sponsors from Renfrew (Small)It was a great privilege for us to meet some Friends of Smile from Renfrew who support Nake, one of our Sponsored Widows in Kosova.  We were able to show them some recent photos and pass on news, as well as taking a photo of these friends to show to Nake when we return at the end of the month.  Special guests, Mike and Diana, were able to join us for this – they have spent a lot of time in Kosova with Smile and are involved in the Girls’ Brigade.  The first Balkan Company has just been established, in our home town of Gjakova, and we’re excited to see how God will use this to encourage the young girls who have started going along weekly.

GB Europe Conf 2009 (Small)

In the afternoon, we were able to go along to the Girls’ Brigade European Conference 2009 to meet some of the Girls’ Brigade leaders who are coming to serve with Smile in the summer. We are looking forward to hosting them (all girls – Paul’s starting to panic!), and know that they will be a great blessing to the local community.  They will be assisting with various activities in and around Gjakova, including kids’ clubs, family visits, and fellowship with local Christians as well as having the opportunity to visit some of the beautiful regions in Kosova for some deserved rest time!

Sunday:

We participated in th worship service at St Silas Episcopalian (Glasgow) in morning, having the opportunity to share how Jesus is transforming our lives and the lives of those we meet in Kosova through the Kosovan churches. St Silas generously donated several boxes of clothes for children that will be a great blessing to some of the families who we support – our next lorry is due to come at the end of the year and all donations of new clothes, blankets, shoes, craft materials, toys, games etc are greatly appreciated – for more information see http://www.smileinternational.org/aidguidelines.htm

St Cath - Paul (Small)

In the evening, we spoke at St Cath’s Church of Scotland (Edinburgh) – this is the church where I (Paul) first attended many Alpha courses as an atheist over ten years ago.  The people back then were friendly, welcoming and happy to answer my questions about Jesus and am happy to report the atmosphere is still the same 😉

We ended the night driving through to Stirling to stay with our friends Judith and Lawrence, who’ve generously agreed to put us up this week.

After Meeting Discussions - Kincraig (Small)

After Meeting Discussions - Kirwall Baptist (Small)We’d like to thank everyone who gave generously during our visits and for your prayers.  Angela and I feel very blessed by the number of people taking an interest in the work we are doing with Smile International.  We are thankful for the new links with the above fellowships who have agreed to support us faithfully in prayer.  We’ll update this blog regularly with our news and prayer points, but let us know if you would like to receive our personal prayer letter by email as we will not disclose the more sensitive areas of our work over a public website.

It’s been a hectic week and we are both now looking forward to a bit of R & R before we return to Kosova on the 29th June.

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Smile Centre Update 05/06/09

It was a busy week in the lead up to to our Scottish Roadshow, those compulsory last minute changes of plans and getting the Smile Centre ready for the handover to Astrit and Emily as they look after the Centre for us while we’re away.  They were understandably nervous as we took a last minute booking for a 35 member, 3-day retreat.  Please pray for them as Astrit is having some health problems as well.

Aid To Pastors

IMG_6357Aid to Local PastorsThis month we were able to donate about 200 boxes of summer clothes, shoes, blankets for young and old to the local pastors of Gjakova. These boxes had arrived on the December truck from the UK and it was great to see them going out to pastors whom we trust will distribute them to the people who have the greatest needs in the areas they minister in.  The boxes had been stored in our loft (3 floors up) over the winter, so I was grateful for Steve’s help in getting them ready for the pastors to pick them up.  Steve is from Thurrock Christian Felowship in Britain and is in Kosova for 3 months to work with one of the local churches and support their ministry. With Steve’s help, we were able to get the job done in half the time it would have taken Ang and I alone to do so.  As well as these boxes of aid, we were able to supply them with a box of first aid supplies, Bibles, children’s bibles and bible studies in the Albanian language (Shqip).

Berti’s American English SchoolBertie's English School

We visited our friend Berti’s fledgling English school in Rahovec to have some fun with his students.  Berti is an Albanian missionary in Kosova, and has been a great help to us as a friend and interpreter over the last year.  Please pray for his ministry here in Kosova and you can follow him on his new blog here.

Brekoc Community Centre

Brekoc Community Centre - Big TedOn June 1st (International Childrens Day) ,we delivered boxes of toys and craft materials to a new community centre in on the outskirts of Gjakova.  This centre is run by Bethany Christian Services (USA), and has a pre-school, primary school, and evening classes for older students.  The centre is primarily to support the educational needs of the local Roma (gypsy) population in Brekoc.  They have a successful center in the Roma colony next to the Smile Centre, which Smile has assissted in the past and we were pleased to be able to help out again.Berkoc Community Centre - BubblesBrekoc Community Centre - Ang + Roma Children

 

 

 

 

 

Delivery of Cornflour for our Sponsored Women

Randy & Paul Post-Cornflour DeliveryWe took a delivery of cornflour from our good friends at Team Kosova who minister in the Podujevo and Orllan region, in the north east of Kosova.  It was great to hang with them for an evening and get covered in flour to boot (flashbacks to my stag do!).  We’re looking forward to adding this to the food aid we will be distributing to our sponsored women when we return from Scotland.

Delivering Food Aid to Village Family

New Vehicle

The other reason we’re looking forward to our next aid distribution upon our return is because we get to do so in our brand new vehicle.  This vehicle was donated to Smile after many years of prayerfully waiting for one and is being driven over to Kosova while we are in Scotland.  Hopefully, this will be the end of the monthly (weekly?) trips to the mechanics as this Nissan should be able to handle the Kosovan roads far better, especially in the villages that we visit.

The New Smile Kosova 4x4

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Smile Scottish Roadshow (8-14th June)

Brekoc Community Centre - Teddies

So as a busy couple of weeks come to a close, Angela and I prepare to head off to Scotland for our “Tour”:

Smile Scottish Roadshow

You are warmly invited to come and meet Paul & Angela, Centre Managers, who for the past year have been overseeing and managing the Smile Centre in Gjakove, Kosova. They will be showing DVDs, sharing literature and first hand experience of their year in Kosova. ALL WELCOME!

Monday 8th
8pm Alvie and Insh Church Kincraig (just south of Aviemore)
www.alvieandinshchurch.org.uk

Wednesday 10th
8pm Christian Growth Life Centre, Kirkwall
www.christiangrowthcentre.co.uk

Thursday 11th
7pm Joint House Groups Meeting Kirkwall Baptist Church

Saturday 13th
10am to 12.30pm St Silas Church, Woodlands – Kosovan Coffee Morning
www.stsilas.org.uk

Sunday 14th
Sharing at St Silas Church during the 11am service
www.stsilas.org.uk

Sharing at St Catherine’s in Edinburgh during the evening service www.stcatherines-argyle.org.uk

Angela and I hope you can make it along to one of these events where you can find out about the work that we are invovled in in Kosova and how you can get involved 😉

● Pray ● Give ● Go

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Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility: Does the Bible Teach Both?

Since becoming a Christian about 10 years ago,  I’ve heard many discussions about God’s Sovereign Will,  that either God is Soveriegn or Human Free Will is, and Scripture is used to back up both sides of this discussion.  Are we puppets to God’s choices or is God dependent on ours? What is the source of the confusion?  We hear many people’s opinions, but what does God actually say?  Is it really an either/or situation or is it both/and?

The following a short article on the subject to be found here.

Paul.

Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility: Does the Bible Teach Both?

Bruce Ware, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

April 17, 2009

God is the sovereign ruler over the universe and all human affairs, and human beings are responsible before God for the moral choices and actions they make. Yes, the Bible teaches both and both are true.

What does the Bible teach about God’s sovereign rulership? Consider Daniel 4:35 where we are instructed that God “does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth, and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘what have You done?’” Three observations are needed.

1) God’s rulership is the exercise of “His will.” That is, he decides in advance what he wants to happen so that “His will” precedes and directs all that occurs.

2) His will is exercised universally—over those in heaven and all the inhabitants of earth. There simply is no place where his will does not pertain or is not exercised.

3) no creature of God can thwart the fulfillment of God’s will or charge God with wrongdoing.

In short, God’s rulership by his will is absolute, universal, and effectual. Consider further the kinds of reality over which God reigns. The Bible contains a number of “spectrum texts” which display God’s ultimate control of both good and evil, light and darkness, life and death. In Isaiah 45:6b-7, God announces “I am the Lord, and there is no other, the One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the Lord who does all these” (cf., Exod 4:11; Deut 32:39; 1 Sam 2:6-7; Eccles 7:13-14; and Lam 3:37-38). And, while we gladly affirm that God is good (only!) and that God neither approves evil in itself, nor does any evil reside in him (Ps 5:4), yet we must affirm with the large and sweeping testimony of Scripture that he reigns over all of life, both its good and evil, and that in all that occurs “the counsel of his will” (Eph 1:11) is fulfilled.

What does Scripture teach about human moral responsibility? From page 1 of the Bible, we are put on notice that God holds us accountable for the moral choices and actions we make. The law of God, whether the simple law not to eat of one tree in the garden (Gen 2:16-17), or the Law given on Sinai (Exod 20), or the Law of Christ (1 Cor 9:21; Gal 6:2) – each establishes for its time the moral framework within which our lives are lived. God will “render to each person according to his deeds” (Rom 2:6), and this judgment will be based on whether we “persevere in doing good” (Rom 2:7) or whether we “do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness” (Rom 2:8). There simply is no denying the fact that God considers his human creation as responsible for the choices and actions they make, and the final judgment day will bear testimony to how we have chosen to live our lives.

So, God is the sovereign ruler over all, and human beings are responsible before him, but just how can both be true? We simply cannot understand fully how both are true together, but that they must work together is demanded by Scripture’s clear teaching. Consider one illustration from Scripture where both are seen, namely, a lesson from Joseph’s story (Gen 37-45). Joseph’s brothers were deeply jealous of him and grew to despise him. When the opportunity presented itself, they sold him into Egypt (37:25-36) where Joseph was misunderstood and mistreated. Despite this, God’s hand was on Joseph and he was elevated to second in command in Egypt (Gen 41). During a famine, his brothers traveled to Egypt to purchase grain, and there Joseph made himself known to his brothers. What Joseph tells them is as incredible as it is instructive: “Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God” (Gen 45:8). Wait! we might protest. Surely they did send Joseph to Egypt! And so they did, and so Joseph previously acknowledges (45:4). But, to get at the full reason that they were sent to Egypt requires looking not just to the brothers but also, more importantly, to God! So it is clear: both God and the brothers are responsible for sending Joseph to Egypt. Both God’s sovereign rulership and the brother’s moral actions are active. As Joseph puts it later, “you [brothers] meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Gen 50:20). The brothers acted for evil, and God acted in the same events for good. Not every question is here answered, but we see that we must affirm both the sovereign rulership of God and the genuineness of our moral responsibility. Both are joined together in Scripture, and what Scripture has joined together, let no man separate.

 

[Editor’s Note: This article was originally written for the Holman Apologetics Study Bible. Published here with permission.]

 Dr. Bruce Ware, Professor of Christian Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, is a highly esteemed theologian and author in the evangelical world. Dr. Ware has written numerous journal articles, book chapters, and book reviews and, along with Thomas Schreiner, has co-edited The Grace of God and the Bondage of the Will and Still Sovereign. Ware is the author of God’s Lesser Glory: The Diminished God of Open Theism; God’s Greater Glory: The Exalted God of Scripture and the Christian Faith; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles, and Relevance; and his just released Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God (Crossway: April 2009). Dr. Ware and his wife Jodi have two grown daughters and one grandchild.

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