The year was 1977. Becky Sweeney (Harding '77) was traveling on a six-week summer trip through Europe with a group from Harding University, visiting several European missionaries along the way. As a part of their stop in Vienna, they visited the church of Christ there. In those days, an office inside the church building housed a secretive printing press used by Eastern European Mission for printing Bibles in the languages of the Communist Bloc countries. Since transporting religious materials was strictly forbidden in those countries, the Bibles were smuggled across the borders. Vienna was the perfect gateway city between Western and Eastern Europe. Here are a few photos from those days:
Church of Christ building in Vienna, 1977
Information outside the church building
Missionaries with the printing press!
Group of Harding students (Becky is second from left on the front row)
Fast forward to 2004. Becky Sweeney has married Craig and has become Becky Sweeney McClung. She's now the wonderful mother of two teenage kids, Paul and Katie. The family is traveling through Austria, Italy and Switzerland as a part of Craig's business travel. They stop over in Vienna for several days, including a full weekend. On Sunday, they worship with the church of Christ in Vienna, which has since moved to a larger building. That building still houses the EEM European headquarters and that very same printing press from 1977! The McClungs worship with the church and enjoy meeting some of the folks who work with EEM. By this time, the Iron Curtain has been down for about 15 years, but EEM still prints and provides Bibles in 20 languages to countries in the former Communist Bloc.
Vienna Church of Christ building, 2004
Fast forward once again to 2015. Katie McClung has married Paul and has become Katie McClung Crook. (Don't get the Pauls confused... one's a brother and one's a husband!) Paul and Katie now live and work as missionaries in a former Communist Bloc country - Romania! As a part of their passion to bring hope and joy through Christ to the people in their area, they seek Bibles and materials from, yep, you guessed it! - Eastern European Mission! They contact Anne Boyd, CEO of God's Children, who coordinates Bible distribution through EEM in Romania. And one cold, windy February day, they make the 4-hour drive south to Sfante Gheorghe and meet up with Zak and Aleece Kelley, recent graduates of Harding University (what a world!). Zak and Aleece have traveled to Romania to meet with Anne to discuss their future plans for moving to Romania to work with God's Children. Aleece's home church in Florida has supported EEM for years! Together, they drive to the EEM warehouse and pick up 250 Bibles and Biblical guides for Paul and Katie to take back with them to Reghin. What an incredible gift - to receive Bibles printed in the languages of the people we work with, free of charge! And to think, for our family it all started way back in 1977....
Church of Christ building in Sfante Gheorghe, Romania, 2015
Husband Paul and me with Bibles and Guides!
EEM materials in our car and ready to go!
Hungarian publications of the Newcomer's Guide to the Bible being distributed at a church leadership training - Gornesti, Romania, 2015
The leaders loved the books, especially the maps and charts. We're hoping to receive even more of these guides in Fall 2015!
A valuable tool
We can't wait for the chance to distribute the Hungarian and Romanian children's Bibles we received, too! A big, big "Thank you!" to Eastern European Mission, Anne Boyd, and Zak and Aleece Kelley! We are blessed by all of you! You can read the Kelleys' account of these events at their blog here, and you can visit EEM's fantastic website here!