Renovate Stories – By Chris DiVietro and Farrar Griggs At Home in ECOBy Ch...
Sveiki from Klaipeda, Lithuania, to our ECO brothers and sisters! We are Tom and Joy Boone, serving as missionaries through teaching at LCC International University. Tom is the chair of Theology and Joy teaches in the Business Department. Our work here began in August 2013, following a two-year season of discernment that involved leaving the PCUSA, visiting global Christians through The Outreach Foundation, doing pastoral training in remote areas of the world, and organizing an ECO church in Fountain Inn, SC.
Capturing our sense of call to this region, Joy shares John 13:34b: “…just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another;” while Tom shares 2 Cor 4:6, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
LCC is the only Christian liberal arts university in Europe. Although located in Lithuania, 59% of our students come from 25 other countries including Ukraine, Russia, and from Muslim majority countries such as Albania and parts of western and central Asia. They come to LCC because it is as far west as they are able to go and still receive an English language education that is accredited by the EU. This is a game-changer opportunity, and the main reason why families send their children here. 80% of these students are not Christian and are exposed to the gospel for the first time at LCC. They return to their homes transformed and equipped to be change agents as Christian business leaders, counselors, and educators in their countries. Thanks to ECO churches and friends, we are able to serve here and continue this work.
Doing our work well at LCC enables us to come alongside many local pastors by hearing their stories, offering prayer and encouragement over cups of tea, and providing training opportunities. Lithuania’s evangelical Christian population is less than 3%, and as is typical of post-Soviet countries, pastors face many struggles. Encouraging struggling pastors is very important for the kingdom to thrive in this region, especially during this time of regional political unrest. Since 2013, our relationships with local pastors has created opportunities in church planting training and two national training events for pastors to build skills in pastoral care and prayer ministry. It has been exciting for us to see ECO churches partner with us in these efforts, such as is pictured here. Thanks to PFFI for introducing our friend Pastor Saulius to southern BBQ!
Three discoveries that convince us our work is significant.
- Corruption in business is the norm in Eastern Europe and Russia so there is a need for Christian witness in business. Joy is a mentor and witness to business students, particularly young women, that it is possible to be Christian, ethical, and in business.
- Politics and religion have gone hand-in-hand here for centuries, but has jeopardized the witness of the church by creating deep-seated skepticism about the church’s credibility among young people. Our work provides a different testimony about Jesus who loves them and offers a personal relationship that can change their lives.
- “How are you?” is an occasion for sharing, not just a greeting as we pass quickly onto other things. Students crave meaningful relationships over cups of tea that last for hours, visits in the offices, and sharing meals in our apartment. Students consistently say that their most meaningful moments here are when we take time to listen to what is happening in their lives and pray with them.
- One of our Christian students from a Muslim country is at risk in their home country and struggling to get a visa for her family to remain here.
- Faculty staffing needs for the Business and Theology departments for next year.
- Regional tension is escalating, so join us in prayer for true peace.
The world is a busy place and you lead busy lives, so thank you for pausing to pray for this region and our ministry! We invite you to learn more about the mission of LCC, and to know more of our work through our TAP page.