Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Delira and Excira

This is Irish slang for "delighted and excited."  Cards on the table, this was not my attitude for the first few hours this morning.  In fact, I was even feeling a bit down in the dumps.  Weather app indicating no chance of a visit from the sun today, I bundled up for a quick walk after lunch just to get out.  As I climbed one of the few cloud-covered hills nearby, I marveled at the joy that a different perspective brings; overlooking the fields with a view of a nearby town and the airport in the distance.  Perhaps it was foreshadowing as I returned for the online meeting after lunch.  

My boss and I "met" with our worker (withholding name) in Ireland.  Every time I get to meet one of our people whether by phone, Skype, or especially in person, I light up inside.  These are my heroes.  This man has given up everything to plant a church and run the EE ministry in Ireland.  He and his family are stepping out in faith to have their financial and all their needs met.  They have met many challenges so far, but I really admire their courage and attitudes that this is part of the deal.

He was sharing how Northern Ireland has been called the "South Korea of Europe" with churches on every corner; though the Republic of Ireland is drastically different.  While it may sound encouraging, at least for the North, the danger is the consumer mindset that can creep in with so many options to choose from.  It takes me back to my Bible Study this morning on the importance of the purity of the Gospel.

Anyway, it was touching to hear my boss sharing with our Irish brother how he feels a responsibility, not only as the VP of Europe, but also because the Gospel came to Switzerland from Ireland.  Not only is there a sense of gratitude and debt for this, but as Ireland is doing well, Switzerland is doing well in a sense.

As we ended the call, I was no longer down.  It's like our conversation was the "walk up the hill" my soul needed to give me a broader perspective it was missing.  Getting to listen to the progress and successes as well as the challenges and seeming setbacks.     Hearing about the ministry and our colleague's family.  Getting to brainstorm ways to help him and this growing ministry.  Each lifted me back up.  I think you could even say I'm delira and excira about it :).  And would you believe that the sun even came out for the rest of the day? 

Monday, October 15, 2018

Back in Albania

It was so wonderful to be back in Albania as well as with the other EE leaders.  The time crawled by in some ways, flew by in others.  I don't want to repeat what I'll share in my next newsletter, but here are some impressions after my second trip now to Albania, with a third one in the works.

Tirana Skyline

As I wrote in my post in April, the country is a fascinating blend of cultures—Greek, Arabic, Balkan.  Last time what impressed me was the mix of mosques and churches.  On the one hand, the people are mostly secular or nominal in whatever religion they identify themselves with; on the other, there seems to be an openness based on conversations from our outreaches.

I learned a bit more this time when I got to meet our new board, which in and of itself is a huge praise!  We weren't even sure we'd have a full-time worker last April, and now we have the beginning stages of a team, wow!  To give some background, the Communist regime fell in 1989 during the nation's revolution, making today's believers there first-generation believers.  And also opening doors to a very large harvest field.

While Christianity is accepted, the church is small.  We were able to visit an evangelical church which meets in a small room Saturday evening.  They'd like to be trained in EE.  I imagine that most evangelical churches meet in similar locations as there are no church buildings I saw other than the large Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church, which bring in many tourists and host events.  The new mosque is just as welcome as these churches, though bigger than both.

Greek Orthodox Church

New Mosque Being Built
It will be exciting to see what will happen by the time we return next summer.  Please be praying for the new EE team in its beginning stages as they are trained and train others and especially as they share the Good News with their fellow Albanians, which is their and our heart's desires.

The Waters of Waiting

Note:  This is a old post written between Dec. 21, 2016 and I'm guessing March or April, 2017.  Not sure why I didn't post at the time, but some days as I walk the paths in the fields here, I remember that I'm not waiting anymore!  

Along a Path in the Nearby Fields

I'm thankful that God's Word is alive and speaks to us freshly in our current circumstances.  At the same time, it's ancient and unchangeable; and sometimes we need the truths that God has taught us in former circumstances to comfort us in our current ones.

For me, the life of Noah is such an example.  Back in October of 2005, I was reading in Genesis, specifically the life of Noah (funny how we remember details like that, huh?).  I really engaged in this familiar childhood story as I endured the endless waiting period that he had to be cooped up in the Ark with his family and all those animals!  And it wasn't for 40 days--which God had given him a heads up on how long it would rain, but if you follow the passage, it started raining when he was 600 and they didn't leave the ark till the 27th day of the second month of Noah's 601st year.  That's a lot of time that isn't recorded, but I can only imagine the squirmish, "let me out of here" emotions that Noah went through.  

I love how Noah acted by sending out the raven and doves.  On the one hand, it was smart; and it gave him some insight that the waters were indeed receding; but it doesn't lessen the wait time.  And even though Scripture clues us in that even in the silence God hasn't forgotten Noah and sent a wind, it doesn't say that God let Noah know any of this!  I can almost feel his agitation as he takes the roof off of the ark in anticipation and readiness to move; yet he waits on God's voice to give him the green light before he takes action.  

I love it so much.  Have you ever been in a waiting period like this?  Where you figuratively sent out some ravens and doves--maybe in the form of prayers or questions--to help you abate your own waters of waiting?  Where you see signs of "almost" and seem just on the brink that the wait is over, and you can finally take the "next step" out onto the dry land?  That's where I am.  

I've had so many people ask questions about my whereabouts and if I have a plane ticket yet.  I'm sorry that I have no news to share with you at this time about my "next step," but consider me at the stage where the roof is off of the Ark, so to speak.  And like Noah when he finally did get back onto land, I expect and plan that my response will be to (again figuratively) build an altar to the Lord.  In that time and space, I can remember that Jesus is my perfect sacrifice who has brought me through the trials and testing.  

"The Lord is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray.  He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them His way.  The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep His covenant and obey His demands."  Psalm 25:8-10