Update Following January 2020 BCTC Cluj (News Concerning George Scipione)

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Update Following January 2020 BCTC Cluj (News Concerning George Scipione)

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Dear Friends and Family,


There is so much that we desire to share with you not only concerning the Biblical Counseling Training Conference (BCTC) that we held in Cluj back in January, but also about new ministry opportunities developing in Budapest, Hungary. I will do my best to be concise, in the hopes that you will not be daunted by the length of this update when you open it and give it the initial look over. Let me begin with the January BCTC in Cluj.


As I related to you before the conference took place, we were treading in somewhat uncharted territory with this fourth training conference. It involved changing our approach and format. We also welcomed new volunteer staff from the U.S. Although we had spent much time communicating with each other by phone and email, we did not actually meet face to face until Pete and Sue Stazen arrived at our house from Lynchburg, Virginia so we could ride together to the airport for our flight to Europe. It was clear almost immediately that we shared with Pete and Sue a common understanding of Biblical Counseling and its place in the ministry of the church. Their involvement in this past conference has been a joy and encouragement, and a real answer to prayer for us and our supporters.


We began the first day with a time of worship and an overview of the conference objectives, and then broke into small groups, each one led and moderated by two staff members. Each working group was presented with the initial part of a unique case study based upon actual counseling sessions (using fictitious names), some of which were ongoing. Encountering the problems of real people who were seeking solutions from a counselor was very sobering, and there was a detectable “deer in the headlights” look among participants. The group leaders’ task was to engage the participants by working through the case studies together, using the tools they had acquired over the past three training conferences. The first day saw the beginning of that process by applying the Biblical principles and practical methods to the case study discussion. The working group sessions continued through the afternoon and were followed with a general time of each group sharing what they were learning. The day was concluded with worship and exhortation from the Scriptures. By the time the small groups convened the next day, the participants were more prepared to engage with the follow-up sessions of their case studies. The group leaders were able to change their approach to having the participants lead more of the discussion and to evaluate how they were working through aspects of the case study on their own as individuals. The case studies represented some very needy people with difficult problems and deep troubles in their lives. Hard and careful work was done by participants and staff. Although it was mentally and emotionally exhausting, there was a shared feeling that this was exercise that was really needed in order to take what was previously learned in theory and now work it through in practice.


While the majority of our time together was spent working the case studies in small groups we also had daily times of fellowship, worship, prayer, instructional seminars, shared lunches, and optional dinners with the staff. Then as staff we also had a time of prayer together each morning before the participants arrived, as well as a meeting after dinner and to close the day in prayer. Since all of us serving as staff wereinvolved in leading small groups, it was really important and beneficial to have these times together to share insights, ideas, and feedback, and to join together in prayer.

Participants and staff in small groups discussing case studies. Cluj, Romania – January 2020
When all of us, staff and participants, came to the end of the three day conference we were utterly exhausted, but also knew that God had manifestly blessed our efforts and provided for us in every way and in every circumstance. Such an intense time of growth, fellowship and personal participation in one another’s lives over just a few days was made even sweeter by the opportunity some of us had to worship together with some of the participants on Sunday in Cluj. Pete also was invited to preach at one of the services.


Mom and Dad returned to their home in Hungary in time to be ready to teach their Monday classes at ICSB. Randy, Pete, and Sue flew back to the States that day and I took the train from Cluj to Budapest. That afternoon I joined my father, Tamás (one of our BCTC participants) and pastor Robert Füto. The purpose of our meeting was to discuss Boundary Crossing Ministries beginning a Biblical Counseling Training Program in Budapest at the request of Robert’s congregation as they have a desire to start a Biblical counseling ministry center. It was a blessed time of fellowship together which resulted in agreeing to begin working towards developing a training program for Hungary. It will begin with an initial conference this September withparticipants invited not only from Róbert’s congregation, but also from other congregations and denominations across Hungary. We are excited that the Lord has opened this new opportunity in answer to prayer, and we continue to look to him to lead, provide and sustain us as we move forward with numerous and increasing tasks that seem at times overwhelming. Yet, that is just where we find that He is faithful, not least incausing us to rely on him and frequently reminding us that our own strength is inadequate.


Unlike previous years, I don’t intend to travel to Eastern Europe in May. Planning and doing the first BCTC in Budapest in September, which will be followed the next week with a BCTC follow-up conference in Cluj, will require a more extensive time of travel in Eastern Europe in the early fall.

Left: Staff and participants at the BCTC in Cluj – January 2020. Right: A late evening staff meeting.
In the update I sent to you before the BCTC in January we relayed the sad news of George Scipione’s rapid decline in health. With grief and sober joy I now share with you that George entered into the joy of his Master on January 22. We received that news on the first day of the conference. Catherine and I had the opportunity to travel to Pittsburgh on the weekend of February 8th for George’s memorial service. It was an extraordinary time of deep fellowship in Christ during the service and afterwards at the reception. We remained for several hours with brothers and sisters in Christ who knew George at different seasons in his life and ministry as a preacher, pastor, teacher and counselor—and a genuine friend in Christ. Some of those whom we were meeting for the first time had been friends of my parents in college. We feel deeply the loss of George,“Skip”, and are so thankful for the opportunity the Lord gave us to know him here, and to briefly join together in ministry in Romania over the past several years.


Prayer Points:


Joy and thanksgiving that the Lord again richly blessed and provided for the fourth BCTC in Cluj, sustaining and guiding us throughout.


Praise for answered prayer that the Stazens have joined us as volunteer staff on George Scipione’s recommendation and have expressed a desire to continue. They are already planning to come with me to Budapest and Cluj in September. This is a great encouragement.


Pray for our participants in Romania, that they would continue to apply what they have learned and look for opportunities to provide godly, Biblical counsel in their own ministry contexts.


Pray for churches in Romania to have a vision for Biblical Counseling Ministry and to encourage and support Biblical Counselors in their midst.


Thanksgiving for the developing opportunity in Hungary for a new BCTC in September. Along with that pray for us as we prepare, and for the Lord to call/raise up the right person to teach the Foundations of Biblical Counseling at that initial conference. Pray that we would humbly seek the Lord in all we do, and that we would be restrained from thoughts of self-reliance.

With warm affection in the Lord,