The Barnabas Company
The Barnabas Company (not to be confused with the Barnabas Fund) is to finish its support for Hungarian Christians in Romania.
This ministry was founded by Stephen and Joan Clifford of Belper, in Derbyshire. Its purpose was to encourage believers who were poverty-stricken but rich in faith, and help them both practically and spiritually.
The work was small but had very large effects. The vision for this ministry came to the Cliffords when they were teaching English in Hungary. At that time, both Hungary and Romania were in the grip of Communism. Stephen and Joan saw a deep need to minister to Hungarian Baptists living in Romania, but the door did not open for two years.
During these past 25 years they have made 58 visits, at times taking Christians from Derbyshire with them and travelling by car.
In the early days of their visits President Ceausescu’s forces were to be feared. On every occasion they were searched, often at gunpoint. God protected them and saw them safely to their destination, and never once did they have Bibles and Christian literature taken from them. This was a miracle indeed!
The reason why this work is finishing is due to Joan’s six years of illness. The Barnabas Company’s financial account will have closed on 31 May 2012. The monetary gifts over the years have been a proof of God’s manifold provision for his needy people.
From the outset, the founders of the work never asked for donations and would always use their own resources for expenses. In every matter regarding material support or finance they trusted the Lord to provide — and he did.
To quote from Stephen’s final prayer letter: ‘From motor cars to margarine, from Bibles to bicycles, God’s bounty has been outpoured. We have been staggered by his generosity through his saints’.
The Lord has enabled the Barnabas Company to help pay for the building or refurbishment of six churches, an old people’s home, three vehicles for church use, chairs for the disabled, Christian camps for children, medical support, and much more help besides.
At no time has the Barnabas Company had more than 82 friends scattered throughout the UK, yet the Lord has used these few to bless our European brothers and sisters. When Stephen was visiting Romania, he was in great demand to minister God’s Word at conventions, Lord’s day services and gypsy camps.
Every time he returned to Derbyshire he said, ‘Oh that there was such a hunger for the gospel and biblical teaching in Great Britain as there is in Romania!’
Those of us who have met in various homes to pray for the Barnabas work and packed the Christmas food parcels, which were freighted out there, have done so with great joy. But, alas, we will miss this participation.
As this door closes for Brother and Sister Clifford, it could be an opening for some reader of this article. May the Spirit of God lead someone to say, ‘Here am I, send me!’
Stanton Lees Chapel