International Ministries

Volunteer Missionary Experiences in Europe of Susan Goncharenko

April 17, 2012 Journal

Susan was a short term volunteer to 3 different countries is Europe: Hungary, Poland & Czech Republic! She illustrated her experience in a great story, of which we would like to share some, using her own words:

 Something was clearly developing in my heart and frame of mind to shift gears so that my energy, strength and God given talents could be channeled with a fresh zealous enthusiasm in positive new directions.  This feeling was confirmed by doors that kept opening up to step out in faith and take on early retirement as it would enable me to embark on new challenging endeavors along with spontaneous adventures... yet with the very stable and secure undergirding in knowing: ‘God is in total control’.

 I was introduced to Pieter and Nora Kalkman, International Ministries missionaries located in Prague, Czech Republic, who serve as liaisons and volunteer coordinators with the European Baptist Federation. I used the application-forms for International Volunteer Missionary Service, and formally applied to be considered for available short term mission assignments in Eastern Europe.

 It happened indeed, starting July 2011...... I was off and running to the various mission assignments meticulously and lovingly organized and coordinated by the Kalkmans.

 Southern Hungary

The Baptist Church organized an Evangelistic outreach in this unchurched town with fervent prayers of reaching lost souls to the Lord. Since people would not come to church.....the church decided it would come to the people. A large tent was set up in the local park......flyers had been distributed to the entire community....inviting people to come.

 My mission assignment role was to primarily help at the children's day camp held daily. The children miraculously gravitated to me despite any language barriers.

It was a joy and privilege to help the children whether it be with the crafts, singing, game or snack time etc. as it all tied in with telling the story of the love of Jesus for the little children of the world... and actually sharing that love on the spot with them having come from the other side of the world just to be with them. The natural bonding that took place was something else I will never forget as long as I live. I cried on the last day when they sang their songs realizing it would be my last chance to hear their cute little voices and see their adorable faces for the last time.

Another spontaneous contribution I was able to make at this mission camp was to provide English lessons for small groups (both children and young adults) during

the late afternoon/early evening. It helped draw the adults to the Evangelistic events that they would otherwise not have come to. I was asked to share my personal testimony about how the Lord used my time/circumstances while living [temporarily] in HUNGARY. I was provided an interpreter so that I could share how my life transformed forever while living in their very own country nearly 2decades before!

  Then....on the closing Sunday morning.....a young Hungarian woman came specifically up to me. I had never ever seen her before and she asked if I had time to speak with her. She shared how she had come by the tent late the night before and saw the Christian movie [‘fireproof’] and how it moved her. She testified its message made her toss and turn all night so she felt compelled to return to the tent the following morning to explore why her heart had been touched in such a profound way. I was honored to invite her to stay and sit with me in the service, gave her a Bible in Hungarian. I've heard she continues to go to Bible study and counseling with her husband.

I was thrown off by how seriously daunted and stressed I was over figuring out the train routes and taxing schedules involving 4 different international train segments in getting from international train segments in getting from southern Hungary all the way up to Poland in time for my next [back to back] mission assignment starting the very next Monday morning. The miracle gift ........turned out that the Kalkmans [responding to this unusual circumstance] drove from Prague, Czech Republic all the way down to my location in Hungary, the day prior, in order to pick me up on Sunday and take me [after church] in their camper vehicle to personally drive me all the way to the very front door of my next mission assignment in Wisla, POLAND!!!!. It was a big sacrifice they willingly made in my favor so that I would realize the Lord had my back all along.

Wisla, Poland

My mission assignment role in Poland was to be 1 out of2 teachers covering the ENGLISH language class segment of the daily Day Camp program. Approx. 135-150 children attended per day, ages 3-13. By all admission.......I am not a teacher nor do I have any formal training to be considered one. Yet the Lord miraculously equipped me to take on the 5 level age groups equating to having been responsible for an average of67-75 in conducting a rigorous schedule of 5 English language classes (25 minutes each) per day!!!

 I had no idea what a natural I would be considered at this new calling in my life. The leadership team and parents of the children were surprised to discover my life's profession was in finance.... not as a well experienced teacher. Thus my undisputed testimony is that this all proved itself to be a divine appointment because God orchestrated all of this to happen as if I had already been doing such work for years.

On Sunday.......the Pastor asked me to share a brief testimony with his congregation. It was an honor to do so. Early the next morning I waved good-bye to the pastoral family from the train window will be embedded in my memory as one of the more endearing moments of my life time.

 BRNISTE, Czech Republic

My first day task was to socialize at a bar-b-que with CZECHs in English in the church's backyard patio area. I am not kidding!!. It was deliberately designed to offer a service to both church members (including un-churched people from the surrounding community to attract them to anon-threatening setting) the local CZECHS an opportunity to practice what little English they know or want to know. This assignment was really a fun relaxing gathering where everyone enjoyed themselves and the objective of practicing ENGLISH was accomplished. What is super cool about this arrangement.....was that it gave me a spontaneous and natural opportunity to share my personal testimony. I was so thankful to the Lord that they really paid attention and had a genuine interest in hearing what I was sharing from my heart. That is how God works!

 ....Word was out that an American was in the village and that an English class would be offered in the afternoon for children ages 4-12. Approximately 18 children showed up from the community. It was challenging because of the mix of ages. But somehow........ I suddenly came up with fun lively game methods on the spot which the parents complimented were the best they had ever seen. May I emphasize .........this experience and outcome was all about God's intervention for His purposes.

 Experiencing His equipping of my every need on the spot was such a joy and comfort confirming He was right there with me the whole time and would not allow me to fail at doing His perfect will. A day was spent with their regional government leader ... a MAYOR equivalent, of the county. He and his wife desired a first hand opportunity to practice their ENGLISH. They were lovely to pick me up and take me sight seeing around their county. We hit it off and our time of sharing continued well into the night as they brought me back to their lovely home for an elegant dinner and other CZECH refreshment traditions. If one is wondering what does this have to do with ministry......just think of the impact a mayor can have on his community if He has a heart for the LORD. Sunday service at the church the Pastor introduced me to the congregation as their special guest and asked me to share my testimony. They thanked me for coming to their village so that I could help with the various assignments. In particular, some English speaking young people really wanted to take advantage of chatting with me and asked many questions having heard my testimony in church. To God be the glory for all that had been accomplished during my mission trip assignments and adventures. The Lord kept me safe and healthy. I was so very blessed by having participated in the various ministry opportunities presented to me. It was a marvelous feeling of having been part of God's purpose and will........not only in the lives of the couple hundred or so different people I got to interact with..........but also in my own personal life. 

In conclusion.......

Thank you Lord for this awesome once in a lifetime privilege and opportunity which I'll remember all the days of my life.