When remembering City Church

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

I am just a couple of days away from my stay in Klaipėday coming to an end.  I arrived in Lithuania as a missionary intern through The Mission Society to work with Miesto Bažnyčia at the end of March.  After living and working at Mana for nearly six months, it is difficult for me to sum up my experience in just a couple of paragraphs.  I have had so many experiences and met so many wonderful people.

Some of my favorite memories have come from working with and helping to expand and develop the children‘s ministries at Miesto Bažnyčia.  I helped plan, organize, and lead the Kids‘ Camp from July 1 to July 6 this summer.  We had 25 kids who attended the camp almost everyday!  We played games, sang songs about God in Lithuanian, told Bible stories in Lithuanian, Russian and English, memorized Bible verses, and made crafts.  By the end of the week I was exhausted, but everyday was so much fun.  The best part of Kids‘ Camp was how excited the kids were!  Every morning they would run to the Kids‘ Camp Room (a.k.a. the café) asking how many more minutes it would be until we started!  I am looking forward to seeking how the children‘s ministries continue to grow and impact lives at Miesto Bažnyčia.

Testimony by Tim, Barbara, Sam, Yana and Yulia Wolter

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Words cannot express how special our time in Lithuania was in our lives. In June 2005 we received a request to come to live and work at Lithuania Christian College in Klaipeda. Less than three months later we had sold our home, cars and everything that woudln’t fit in two suitcases each and arrived in Vilnius with three teens in tow.

It didn’t take long for us to fall in love with the beautiful country and our new friends at the college and at City Church. Some of our best memories were when we had groups of City Church leaders and servants crowded into our flat to eat, pray, sing and laugh. We always seemed to end up drinking tea or lattes in the kitchen with piles and piles of shoes and coats overflowing the front hallway. For me (Barbara) many of life’s sweetest moments were in my kitchen in Lithuania with my beautiful friends.

One of Tim’s favorite memories were his weekly walks around the city every Sunday. He would walk, pray, think and just experience Klaipeda. He had a vision for evangelism that remained unfulfilled until just recently (Sept. 1, 2010) when a contingent from City Church sang, preached and gave away Bibles by the Monument honoring Martynas Mazvydas, the great Lithuanian reformer. Seeing the pictures recently on Facebook made us feel so connected to our “brothers and sister” in Lithuania.

Another very fond memory is the annual Agape Feast. It really spoke to our hearts that we had a huge party, like a wedding reception, to celebrate Christ’s extravagant love for us and our love for one another.

There was always an abundance of work to be done but no matter where we joined in, whether in orphanges, children’s ministry, hospitality or teaching, what we remember are the people we met and the friendships we still cherish. Everywhere you turn in our home here, there are reminders of our freinds in Klaipeda. Thank goodness for Facebook and e-mail. We will never forget when we pulled out of the parking lot behind our house, the crowd of dear, sweet friends that came to see us off that cold December morning in 2007.

Tim was able to spend July 2009 and 2010 in Klaipeda teaching English and reconnecting with our City Church family. We think of you and pray for you often and dream of the day when we can return to Lithuania to live again.

“When God Gives the Love”

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Arūnas and Lina, after 25 years of marriage say that only repentance and rediscovered prayer and faith helped them to save their family and to start loving life again.  They remind us that the goal of their testimony is to glorify God.

Artūras: It is important that we do not boast about our works, but we should boast about what God is doing in our lives. The things He is doing are wonderful. When you know God for ten years and you live with Him, the faith still remains even when you fall into darkness. However, you understand how hard it is to lift yourself up again. Sin imprisons you. The spirit of this world is very strong. Of course my faith was still inside me, but it was imprisoned and ineffective. I could not even talk with anyone about faith.

Lina: I would remember my faith only when the times were tough, when I was in pain. Then I would call out, “God, please help.” But, when everything was good, you go along the wide road and do not think about what you are doing. Until you reach this limit.

Artūras: Our relationship with God was disconnected, because at the right time we did not say, “no,” to the tempter. Sin came into our lives. Then everything started.

Lina: I started to look for hobbies. You can’t have a vacuum. You have to fill this emptiness with something. I started gardening, and Artūras immersed himself in fishing. Slowly, but surely, we moved away from God and each other. Going to church was the last thing on our minds.
Today, as never before, I understand the gospel verse which says, “Let us not give up meeting together.” When you do not go to church you stop hearing the word of God. You become insensitive to the Holy Spirit and your heart becomes hard, but, of course, the process is slow.

Artūras: We were on the brink of divorce as the worries of the world and our desires were ruling our lives. I could no longer seperate good from evil. It seemed like there was some kind of veil placed over my eyes. I almost left my family…two nights…But God didn’t allow me to go any further. He took away the veil of darkness and I understood that all of that was madness.

Lina: The high rate of divorce scares me (note: In 2006, Eurostat announced that Lithuania was among th countries in the European Union with the 25 highest divorce rates). There was a high possibility that less than a year ago our family would have been included in this number too.  When you think about the broken hearts of both the spouses and the children… I am sure that family is valuable. This is why I talk about my experience and why it is easy for me to talk about everything that has happened in our lives.  There may be a family similar to our’s somewhere, and maybe our words will strengthen them, they will look for the Lord, and call out His name. As it is written, “Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it” (Psalm 127:1). Our own strength will only last until the next crisis.  I now know for sure that without God it would have been impossible to rebuild everything, because Satan had done too much damage.

Artūras: After I returned to my family,  it was seven months before we understood that there was still an abyss between us. We understood that our lives were shattering. We understood that if we did not return to Christ, then a catastrophe would occur and that would be the end.

Lina: In those days we were considering divorce. Of course, at the beginning, we tried to put the pieces of our family back together by our own strength. I thought, “Of course we can no longer live as we have lived. We have to change something.  Things that separate us should be taken out of our lives.” But how do we do this? What should change? I didn’t know.  Well, Artūras liked to fish and I decided to go with him and be there with him. We bought bicycles and went to the sea. We tried to find a way to kill this emptiness we both felt and grow closer to each other. Yet, everything was done by our own hands and our stength. Then we saw that the emptiness didn’t go anywhere and our strength was not enough.
If we wanted our family become tied together, our hearts had to be changed. We had to forget the wrongs we had each suffered and forgive each other. But how can you do it with your own strength? You can’t. After some time Artūras told me, “You know Lina, we have to come back to this place, where our paths began to seperate.” When you think about it, the beginning point was eight years ago, when we statred to drift away from church.

Artūras: Yes.  So this evening we talked about how we could continue to live together when there is no hope and we had tried to rebuild by our own strength and nothing seemed to work.  Lina started saying that it would be better to separate, but to my heart came an idea. I said to her,  “You know, there is still one more chance.  We have to come back to this place where our paths began to separate.”  What I meant was that we should come back to Jesus. To come back to this place where we were living the good life, when we were full of joy, and when we lived with God.
Once I said this, I downloaded all of Pastor Saul’s sermons and I started to listen to them all the time. One after another. One after another. As I listened they began to cleanse me. The word of God…I sensed that I wanted more and more of it.  I started to repent. I wanted to go to church so badly. Our whole family went to the church. From that moment God started to work, to rebuild us…so fast. With that kind of strength I wanted God.  I wanted his presence. The Holy Spirit touched me when I was sitting in my garage and I was weeping and sobbing. I understood that where I was going before was leading to hell.  God showed me Hebrews 10:26 which says, “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left” . I saw that we were sinning consciously. We sinned consciously and we didn’t repent. As God came, in his light I saw how horrible this was.  I was so scared…as never before in my life. I cried as I asked for forgiveness. He forgave me, and at that same moment I saw His love. I cried and trembled out of joy. I said, “That’s it. Lord, I will never leave you again.” What I felt…Lord, You are so faithful and I am such sinner…He forgave everything. The joy that came! I wanted to live and I wanted only Christ.  I started to look for people of God. I said, “Lina let’s go out, let’s find some brothers and sisters, we will talk, and we will be together…” I do not want anything more. I’ve had my share of worldly pleasures. I want to work for God.

Lina: As we started to grow closer to God (that was in November) we also become closer to each other. God gave His love. I could fell it physically. I felt what love is for my husband and children in my heart . I was waiting eagerly for the evening when I could see all of them.  I fell in love even more than before. If you are only a person, you can’t love that much or forgive that much. It’s impossible. I thank God for the things He is doing.  He does more than you expect. Our children say, who are now teenagers, “Mom, the greatest miracle of all is our family”.  Because, they know what was happening back then and the situation now.

Artūras: I thought, that I would not be able to love my wife as I had loved her before, but when I heard Pastor Saul’s sermon in which he said, “Fall in love again.”  I started to pray, “Lord, You are love. Give me love, so I can fall in love again.” You know what? He gave me this love. I would not be wrong in saying that I love my wife even more now. It was given to me by God.  God gave the love. You only need to want and God will do so much more. All the glory belongs to Him.
We started to change very quickly. Everyone saw this - my mother, relatives, friends and children. They understood that this didn’t come from us. Very soon our children also accepted Christ. We have a daughter, our eldest, who was saved.  And now both our teenage sons have come to faith in God, because for them it was a great miracle and sign. They knew that God was real and that He works in our lives, so they accepted Christ.
For me this is the biggest miracle I have had in my life as a believer. I have been a believer for 19 years now. God has performed many miracles before. They were more material, but this one. There is no greater miracle in our lives than this.

Lina: God has purified our hearts. It was a painful experience, but now we understand that time spent with God is as valuable as a pearl. The time during which I didn’t go to church I count as lost. However, I have hope that God will make up for it.

Artūras: He already compensates for it! I want to boast about my God. He gives me double of everything. I see how you grow spiritually. I want to be with Him. I think about Him and about His word day and night. He grows. He gives so much, that I can hardly keep up. I say, “Lord not so fast - little by little, because I can’t digest so much at one time.” But this is a huge grace. I do not want it to end until He comes again.

Lina: Now I understand that as much as I open myself up to Him is as much as He will give me.

Artūras: So thinking back, we were so prideful.  We did many things which were wrong. Still, He cleansed us.  I hardly recognize myself. I ask God to change me. If we do not ask, He will not inflict change on us. We are created in the image of God. We have free will. He will not do anything against it. So, I ask him continually to show me everything. Our God is holy, so we have to be holy too. I want His will to be fulfilled in my life.
I beg him to make me want to change. He changes me. I was addicted to tobacco and light alcohol. After I repented my addictions seemed to disappeared, you could say, overnight. I just felt free. If I find something in me that is dark, I say, “Lord, this away from me also.” God is holy and He wants us to be holy too.

After the interview, I thought of one question I wished to ask: Was it possible that someone was praying for Artūras and Lina during this time in their lives? The answer to this question did not surprise me.

Lina: Yes. Two of our sisters in Christ were praying for us. I even got a text message from one of them which said, “Trust the Lord and He will turn your tears into rivers of blessings”.  I thanked when I saw her, the Lord has taken my tears and turned them in to smiles.

Artūras: Yes, I could also testify to this. When someone was praying for me I could feel it physically. You can’t forget this feeling.

Mana- Spiritual Life Center

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

Mana - Spiritual Life Center

This is the front view of the building.

To the left is where the church offices are located, along with 5 studio apartments, a kitchen and communal bathrooms. All newly renovated and functioning.

In the middle of the building is the main entrance. On the main floor to the left is the children’s class room (in need of renovations), a functioning metal workshop, and a Full sized sauna with pool (yet to be renovated).

Up the stairs to the second floor is the newly renovated meeting room that holds 80+ people. Through this room to the left are 2 apartments that need renovations to house 2 families that will move into the building in the summer of 2009. These 2 families will be responsible for overseeing the activities planned for this center.

Up the stairs to the third floor is a, yet to be renovated, meeting room that can accomidate 150+ people.

To the right of the building are 3 stories of large hotel rooms with communal bathroom facilities, not yet renovated.

As you can see there are many opportunities for you to get involved here.

Back of Mana - Spiritual Life Center

This is the back of the Center.

Many of our Sunday Services are held on the black top.

Dedication of the newly renovated meeting room

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

Observations from an outsider……

On Thursday May 22,2008 City Church met in the newly renovate meeting room to dedicate it. As we entered the room for the first time since completion it was exciting to see the transformation. This cold run down room with maroon on white paint and mold up one wall from the water damage had been transformed into a much warmer atmosphere. The warm colors that were chosen changed the feeling in the whole room at once as you entered. It was hard to believe it was the same room and gave so much hope to all of us for the potential of the other rooms that were in so much need of repair.

Many showed up for the dedication service. The Free Christian Church was there as well and said a few words and we worshipped together. It was such a beautiful service of partnership. And it is just the beginning…….