John and Pauline England have been working in Europe for more than 20 years. In all the work they have been involved in, their focus has been evangelism. Their home church is Waiheke Island Baptist.
In late1989, Bible college graduates John and Pauline England felt God’s call to serve in Europe. Unable to find a mission agency doing the sorts of things they felt called to didn’t deter them – in obedience, they just went and formed their own, The European Evangelical Mission (TEEM).
Twenty-two years later they can look back with a degree of satisfaction on their work, especially their latest – The Horizon of Hope Project in Savastreni, Romania.
John and Pauline initially set up in Belgium, a modern nation but with little interest in the spiritual. A church was established in St Vith. This church planted others, notably one in Luxembourg that has grown to over 150 and has inherited John and Pauline’s heart for evangelism.
In Belgium, John and Pauline initiated several outreach strategies and training programmes including marriage seminars, youth programmes and an interest in a little-reached people in Romania – the gypsies of Rucar and Fagaras. John also ran programmes in the local prison.
In late 2005, John and Pauline felt called to Romania. Their work is now based in Rucar, central Romania. They continue to encourage the church at Fagaras, which has grown over the years of TEEM’s involvement. They have an effective youth and children’s programme reaching out to the poor and there is a medical clinic for the poor.
That brings us to the Horizon of Hope project. Many young Romanians are uneducated. That can mean a life on the streets for the girls and a life of crime for the boys. Vasile Holerga, a Romanian national, partnered with TEEM to give these teens freedom from a life of poverty.
Horizon of Hope is a live-in work skills programme with an unashamedly evangelical base that provides training in work such as beekeeping and woodworking while teaching about the transformation Christ can make in one’s life.
It’s been a long project but it’s nearing completion. “We’ve made good progress this year,” they write. “The windows and roof are now in place although we’re still battling with getting the utilities installed. The price for installation changes from month to month depending on who we’re dealing with. The administration in the regional offices is chaotic and often corrupt.
“We’ve taken on a caretaker – a young gypsy man who’s willing but unschooled. We’re spending time with him, helping him to establish a routine and learn a few basic skills. Prior to coming to us he was living on the streets. Now he attends the church and is keen to learn. Later he’ll join Horizon of Hope’s first intake.
“We’ve held a number of meetings with the trustees who are all full-time ministry workers or pastors. They are watching and waiting to see who will be ready and suitable to include on the scheme as the time draws closer.
“The work situation has been particularly bad this past year. Many men, especially those who are unskilled, find themselves having to leave their families in search of work.
“Next year we have several teams of workers coming to help and are planning on completing the director’s apartment at the front of the Horizon of Hope building so that we can start the training scheme with a few young people.”
John and Pauline are an inspiration to anyone contemplating mission. They just went and did what they felt God challenging them to do. More information is online at www.horizonofhope.ro.