"Yet thou in thy manifold mercies forsookest them not in the wilderness: the pillar of the cloud departed not from them by day, to lead them in the way; neither the pillar of fire by night, to shew them light, and the way wherein they should go." Nehemiah 9:19
Our praying friends and family in the Lord,
It sure is a comfort to know our gracious God will not, nor cannot forsake us; we are not cast off and have no reason to be cast down. The same guiding hand that led us to himself has promised to lead us home. In the brightness of day, the evidence of His presence is everywhere to be seen; His path lies plain before us. In the blackness of night, though unable to see a great distance, He gives us enough light to see Him, and we are consoled that He's near to hand, comforted that the same illuminating flame keeps the enemy at bay.
Being led of the Lord, we held our second big meeting of the summer recently. Believers came from all over to sing, pray, be edified by preaching, and worship the Lord Jesus. We started the meeting around 5:30 p.m., much later in the evening than usual, to help us beat the summer heat. Still, fetching them from their villages began much earlier in the day. The first service went very well. The singing was powerful; tears flowed freely. Bro. Cheatwood preached the first service from Romans chapter 5 about the love God demonstrated to the most unlikely: the weak, the ungodly, and sinners. After the service, four souls came, confessing their faith in Jesus Christ and desiring to be baptized. While half of the congregation repaired to the evening meal, the other half headed to the river. There, amid singing and praying, these fours souls were baptized, entering into the river with fear and trepidation, exiting with joy unspeakable, received by waiting and welcoming saints.
The last meeting of the evening proceeded much like the first, if not stronger. National pastor Alish testified concerning the death of Yashar, the national pastor he was saved under. He said Yashar had three possessions he was most identified with: a coat, his minivan, and his Bible. At his death, his oldest son took the coat to remember him by; his other son asked for the van; Alish said, "All I wanted was the Bible." Alish testified, "Ten years later, and the coat is gone, the van has since been turned into scrap, but I still have the Bible. Moreover, the son who wanted the coat is no longer in church; the son who drove off in the van went to Europe and ruin; but here I am with the Bible, still in church, still praising God." Later on, while preaching, he said, "As preachers, I'm sure we upset God more than anyone else. Who else plants a crop and then never goes back to see if anything came up? We go everywhere preaching and then are surprised when something grows." Pretty good for a man with only a Bible for an inheritance.
During the second meeting, national pastor Ahmed testified about goings on in Vezenkovo, a village three hours to the southwest, where our farthest church is located. He said last month, during one particular service, a woman visibly distraught came to the door. She was inquiring if anyone knew where "the believers" were. Ahmed answered, "We're the believers." Stunned, the woman said, "I set out from a village down the road, determined to find you. This was the first house I stopped at." She told those assembled of a tragic accident that occurred a few days before, that left her son in a coma, and she was asking them to come and pray. Ahmed took a group and returned to the woman's house. There he found a small congregation of broken-hearted and fearful souls. The man of the house testified to Ahmed, "Years ago, we had nothing and were the poorest people in the village, then Europe opened up to us. We went, worked, saved and got rich, but forgot about God. We never gave a single thought to God. We had everything. If I wanted a house, I'd buy it; if I wanted a car, it was mine. Now I've learned there are things that money can't buy. All my money can't wake my son up. All my money can't buy God." Ahmed preached to them, "What money can't do, faith in Jesus can. We're still poor, but we can talk to God, and he listens and answers." Ahmed said, "We preached to them, prayed, and then went on our way waiting to hear what God would do." A few days later, the answer came. The boy was awake and responsive, able to move his hands and legs. The family has since started attending the meeting in Vezenkovo. Our second service concluded after 10 p.m., and it was well past midnight before I returned home, weary, but happy.
A little more than a week ago now, we received excellent, though unexpected, news. A chance visit to the migration police resulted in learning we could now apply for permanent residence in Bulgaria. (We had been informed, before ever coming here, that obtaining permanent resident status would be a ten-year process. After completing five individual-year visas, we would be eligible for a single five-year visa. After that, we could apply for permanent residency. By that math, we assumed we would be applying for our five-year visa soon.) Delighted, we began the mad scramble to gather up all the paperwork. I first contacted our attorney to relate the good news and solicit his help. He informed us that a mistake had obviously been made, as there was no way possible we could be applying for permanent resident status. He listed his reasons and ruined our elation. Determined to press on, we returned to the migration office and laid out everything he had said before the case workers. They derided his so called "expertise," told us not to pay any attention to him, and assured us they would help us every step of the way. A week to the day, and with special and invaluable assistance from fellow missionary Larry Leach, we were able to turn in our documents. The ladies in the office asked us, "Did that lawyer help you in any way getting these?" "No," we replied. "Good," they answered, as they processed and approved our application. Lord willing, we return in September to pick up our permanent residence visas. On a side note, due to the time constraint (one week from when we were notified, to when we applied), we borrowed the necessary funds. Permanent visas are double the cost of our yearly visa expense, making it around $3,500. Yet, we are confident that the Lord — who led us here, went before us, and prepared the way — will provide. Keep us in your prayers. We love and miss you all.
Because of a living Saviour,
The William LeFevre Family