March 26, Jina, Romania
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Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

We greet you in the Name of our Savior! I am afraid that waiting for the time to write the perfect update is always tomorrow, so here comes today's short-of-perfect one!

We have heard of the weather in PA (and the Northeastern USA) a couple of weeks ago, so I thought I'd include a picture from Jina that I took just this Sunday - snow-covered pine trees made for some beautiful views up on the mountain.

Recently I have come by the story of a pastor who compared his ministry with one's futile efforts to hold together a house made out of marbles! I have found in the time we have been with the church in Jina that such a comparison is fitting, at least from our creaturely perspective. Were it not for Christ's promise "I will build My church" we might as well have given up already a long time ago. Yet, the Lord has seen fit to entrust the work of the gospel to us, so we pray that each one of us be found faithful instruments in His hands.

A few items for prayer:

1. We are coming to the end of the catechetical process, and next week (April 5) the candidates will meet with the church leadership. Please pray that we make the right decisions about those we admit for baptism; pray also that the candidates pursue baptism for the right reasons.

2. The baptism service is on April 17, which is the 2nd day of Easter - pray the Lord will use the preaching of His Word as well as the 'silent' proclamation of the gospel through the symbol of baptism to bring others to Himself. Also please pray for the other logistics of the day to be worked out so everything runs smoothly.

3. Two days after the baptism, Alex and I will be flying to the States - visiting colleges, Alex will be taking two AP exams, we will attend the Annual Conference on April 25... Please pray for safety, good health, some more logistics to be worked out, and some rest! We are grateful to the Lord for our friends hosting us in Pennsburg, and for the provision of a car for his time.

4. We are not the only ones going away after Easter ... Many from the church in Jina also leave home that week and go to work (will be gone for weeks and months), whether within Romania or abroad (England, Germany, France, Spain). Please pray the Lord would grant them safety and a good testimony where they go.

5. I appreciate your prayers for the men's study group to get going - over 10 of us have actually met twice and discussed the first two chapters of 9 Marks of a Healthy CHurch (Expositional Preaching, and Biblical Theology) - it was a good, yet somewhat challenging time. A number of men in the church are actively searching for arguments to combat the doctrines of grace, with some being more vocal than others. Pray for this situation as well.

6. Timotheus University - pray especially for the institutional accreditation prep work still going on. Also, please pray especially for the students graduating this year to get all their work in on time, as time is running short.

7. Last yet not least, please pray for us as a family, as different challenges arise. Pray especially for major decisions regarding Alex's schooling, some health issues, work we still need to do in and around the house, and wisdom to manage the short time we have!

This year we celebrate 500 years since the start of the Reformation. Every now and then I enjoy looking up a verse in old English, such as Tyndale's 1534 version (the same year Luther published the Bible in German, and two years before the first edition of Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion). Here is Tyndale's rendering of 2 Thess 2:16-17, which serves as the greeting of our Jina church for 2017, and with which we also greet you all: 

Oure lorde Iesu Christ hym silfe and God oure father which hath loved vs and hath geven vs everlastynge consolacion and good hope thorowe grace comforte youre hertes and stablysshe you in all doctrine and good doynge.  

In Christ's love and service,

Dan & Ana, Alex and Adora

Copyright © 2017 Dan & Ana Istrate, All rights reserved.

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