[an error occurred while processing this directive] This article is from the EMU News Archive. The approximate date of publication was in April 2006. Current EMU news is available at www.emu.edu/news

Crossroads:
mileposts

EMM Opens Exploratory Work in Bulgaria

Lamar (C 70) and Pat Strong (C 69) Myers are "empty nesters." They?re grandparents. But they?re also pioneers.

Two years ago, Lamar and Pat met Hari and Penka Atanasov, Bulgarian artists, during their two-week visit to the United States. Hari and Penka lodged with the Myers family in Landisville, Pa., and they held an exhibition of their artwork.

Along with his work in art, Hari also pastors a small evangelical church in Kurdajli, in southern Bulgaria, 25 miles from the border with Greece. Hari and Penka knew Eastern Mennonite Missions (EMM) associated missionary Tim Bentch, based in Budapest, Hungary, through artists' gatherings sponsored by A Song for the Nations, the organization Bentch founded to network artists throughout Eastern and Western Europe.

During their U.S. visit, which was sponsored by A Song for the Nations, the Atanasovs and Myers found God knitting their hearts together in a surprising way. They began to pray and dream about creative new outreaches to the Bulgarian Muslim villagers in southern Bulgaria through art and music.

For the past 10 years, Lamar has worked as director of administrative services at EMM's headquarters, and Pat has directed choirs for children and adults and served as a worship director in various congregational settings. Eighteen years ago, the Myers returned from a 17-year stint in Haiti. But now they felt it was time to get back overseas and God seemed to be leading them toward work with Hari and Penka in Bulgaria.

"We are excited about this door of opportunity, which is in line with the desires that God has put in our hearts," Lamar told the EMM Board in their Dec. 2 meeting.

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Pat said, "Worshipping God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is a passion I've had most of my life. Although the goals of many churches are important and biblical like creating communities of love and well-being, evangelism, or reaching out to those in need seldom do I see the first goal to be helping people turn from worshipping themselves and what they want to worshipping God."

As EMM seeks "to create transforming communities of worship among all peoples," staff are excited about what God will do through the Myers' passion. The EMM Board appointed Lamar and Pat Myers for a two-year term of exploratory service in Bulgaria, a new country of ministry for EMM.

Jewel Wenger Showalter (C 69)