The story or tapestry of Boundary Crossing Ministries, this new ministry organization that is just beginning to really take shape, is woven together from personal, individual stories…
Stuart and Beth Ferguson over 40 years ago began to take a particular interest in believers and churches living under communist governments in Eastern Europe and in the former Soviet Union, learning about their circumstances and hearing the testimony of their love for Christ and faithfulness to Him from those Christians in the West who knew them and were helping them in various ways. In addition to regularly praying for these brothers and sisters living under restrictions and sometimes facing pointed and even severe persecution, Stuart and Beth supported some of those who were experienced and effective in their ministry beyond the wall that separated Eastern from Western Europe until the collapse of the communist governments in late 1989 and into 1990. At that point the focus of ministry of the primary organization that they were connected with shifted, at the request of those whom they had served with in the Eastern European countries, to helping the churches to undertake and develop new ministries—especially in evangelism, reaching and training youth and in strengthening families (also in establishing publishing to support these ministries). While continuing to assist believers, churches and their ministries indirectly through supporting that organization’s work, their family became directly engaged through their older, high school age, son being sent by their local congregation to do summer camp ministry under a faithful Hungarian pastor. That was the beginning of Stuart and Beth’s personal ministry experience in Eastern Europe, along with four of their five children. At first that took the form of short-term trips to assist summer ministry in Hungary and the Transylvania region of Romania (primarily among the ethnic Hungarian minority), as well as to become acquainted with individual believers and their particular ministry endeavors—as pastors, pastoral assistants, youth leaders, and serving with national ministry organizations. They also sought to interest others in their church and community in Virginia in what God was doing among and through His people in that part of Eastern Europe—which bore fruit in faithful prayer, practical support of ministry initiatives and others traveling with them on short-term volunteer teams to work alongside national believers. In 2007 they and their youngest, high-school age, daughter were sent by their local congregation to join the staff of the Calepinus language school in the small city of Targu Mures in Romania. The school was associated with the Hungarian Reformed Church and had a ministry purpose in serving the local community. Living and working among Hungarian and Romanian neighbors and their Hungarian colleagues and students, gave them more of an in-depth exposure to the hopes, needs, life challenges and struggles of both believers and unbelievers in a post-communist society. It also opened opportunities for gospel witness and being able to come alongside those among whom the Lord had placed them. The world-wide financial crisis that began in late 2008 caused a significant drop in the language school’s enrollment and they returned to the US in the summer of 2009, lacking the financial means to continue in their service. But friendships had been formed and continue to be strong ten years later—and Stuart and Beth continued to seek the Lord for His leading and provision to remain engaged in ministry in Eastern Europe, even at a distance and through short-term trips.
In the summer of 2011, while preparing for a month-long ministry trip, they were invited to help start a new model of ministry organization by the founder of the original ministry they had known and supported since the late 70s. Initially in part-time roles and then later as full-time staff they assisted in the development of 4D Ministries working in partnership with national ministries in the countries of Eastern Europe who demonstrated credible practices and experience in encouraging and equipping local congregations to embrace and implement a missional vision of ministry into their communities, countries and beyond. As Stuart and Beth were engaged in directly assisting ministry partners in Hungary and Romania, the need to strengthen 4D’s financial management and related administration grew as more national partners and US supporters were added and Stuart agreed to serve as the chief financial officer. In order to take up new responsibilities he had to step back from direct ministry engagement based on their personal relationships. Serving as the cfo and corporate/board secretary was, of necessity, a full-time endeavor–especially during the early part of 4D’s growth as both a ministry model and supporting organization. At the same time, Stuart and Beth continued to be involved as much as they could with the friends and ministry partners they knew in Hungary and Romania, and also put their desire to serve more fully in that way before the Lord in prayer. The possibility of returning to live in Eastern Europe and in closer proximity to ministry partners came to fruition as answered prayer when they moved to the Budapest area of Hungary in August 2015. As a certified “English as a Second Language” instructor, Beth accepted an appointment to serve as the interim middle school ELL teacher at the International Christian School of Budapest, assisting Hungarian and international students in strengthening their English language skills in order to participate more fully in their normal academic classes. Stuart continued to serve as the cfo and together they looked for ways to more fully engage in personal ministry, both in their local community—including their Hungarian church–and among their already established relationships in Hungary and Romania. While they did experience some improvement in being able to combine their multiple and distinct areas of ministry responsibilities, they were also coming to the conclusion that especially Stuart would need to be committed to exclusively focusing in one area alone in order to do it well. After exploring the possibility of returning to a partner liaison role with 4D and finding the way was not open, they sought the Lord for other means. The necessity of making a definitive choice occurred when a significant answer to long-term prayer came in the form of a ministry partner in Romania requesting the development of a two-year training program in Biblical Counseling for their leadership and staff to better equip them in their ministry. In order to provide the organizational means for that to take place, a new ministry organization seemed the best way to bring it about. And so, after much prayer, thinking, discussion, consultation and more prayer the Lord provided the means to not only organize the Biblical Counseling Training Program and the first training conference in Cluj in January, 2018—but also a new organization to sponsor it: Boundary Crossing Ministries, which was incorporated as a nonstock/nonprofit organization in Virginia on January 5th of the new year.
As we take the next small steps that are part of this next large step in following our Lord Jesus Christ, we’ve found much to think about in considering these other words from Hans Rookmaaker at the time that he and other believers were setting out to create what they hoped would ultimately be a Christian art academy in the Netherlands:
“Therefore I propose…that together we establish an association…so that in part through this initiative, we may learn to live, to actually live, as Christians in these times.” Already having noted that this work should not be based on a desire to fulfill certain (Biblical-theological) principles, or to round-off an organizational plan/structure, or in response to the agitation of a recognized group—or ‘demographic’—but because “this is what our hands find to do, what God has given us to do for his kingdom. In that case we do not set to work in our own strength; rather we expect everything from him…we can only do it in genuine piety (pious words are not enough), in intensive prayer, expecting everything from him and waiting on his guidance. Only in this way is meaningful work in this field possible…The problems are great, the difficulties are such (as already described), and the consequences of this work are so unforeseeable that we could not dare to proceed with it if God were not with us and if his Spirit did not give us wisdom. But if we do the work with his help, we may go ahead with it, leaving the results to him. Perhaps he will use it as a contribution to a real reformation…” (Collected Works, 4/370)