David, Faith & Ethics Teacher. C.S. Lewis School. Bratislava, Slovakia
On my recent trip in Croatia, Hungary and Slovakia, I was struck by the parallels between the efforts of young leaders to create new spaces to share their faith and the task set for Joshua to free Canaan for occupation by the Jewish nation.
|· Often outnumbered by stronger armies fighting on their home turf.
||· Compete with governments agencies with only limited financial or people resources.
|· Promised victories in every place where his feet would tread.
||· Are responsible to go and disciple the nations, especially their own whether received as respected “insiders” or rejected as suspected “outsiders.”
|· Mandated to destroy sick, idolatrous cities in Canaan desperate enough to use deceptive ploys to stay alive.
||· Decide how to work with local officials whether they recognize the worth of these efforts; or are corrupt and faithless.
David is the son of one of the original founders of the school. He graduated from CS Lewis School, earned a degree abroad and has now returned to help a new generation implement faith in their lives. He talked with me about his students’ desire to create a coffee bar in the old Soviet building their high school moved into this fall. Yes, David as their teacher, is building a platform for youth to learn basic lessons of business and financial responsibility. He also represents a next generation spiritual leader obeying the command to go and disciple a new generation.
The director of Wycliffe Russia just emailed a letter about the challenges faced by the 14 Russian families and 8 singles sent to work in Africa and India to translate the Scriptures. The ruble dropped nearly 50% in value over the last year. Russian churches are unable to compensate by doubling their current support in a horrible economy. Missionary families are cutting their expenses and making decisions about coming home early or not.
Yes, it is tough to go and disciple the nations. But over 30 Russians did follow our Savior’s command and are writing the Scripture into new languages, when none of them could have imagined this opportunity two decades ago!
Algae “Bloom” – Reuters
On our way to Toledo to help my daughter Katrina pack for her move, my family stopped for lunch in Ft. Wayne. Just before we got back on the road, Katrina called. “Buy lots of bottled water.” Toledo’s water department had warned residents not to drink or cook with tap water. The water supply was contaminated by a toxin released by algae in Lake Erie. Boiling wouldn’t help. We were amazed to find just 4 hours after the emergency was announced in Toledo, the run on bottled water had already gone regional reaching us an hour away in the Ft. Wayne Meijer store.
The hotel desks handed out water bottles with the room key and we couldn’t order “Frostie” shakes at Wendy’s, because the water was unreliable. After we finished the packing, while driving home from Toledo, we saw people standing in line at water distribution points manned by National Guard water purification units. From constant reminders like this that the water was contaminated, we learned how precious clean water is.
But “Living water” is even better than clean water! 20-30 minutes with Jesus was all it took to convince a woman to leave her everyday water pot beside the well in Sychar, Samaria. She wasn’t heedless to leave behind an essential possession she used every day. And she wasn’t frightened of the strange men, Jesus’ disciples, who joined him at the well.
No, nothing else seemed important anymore. The prophet with “living water” was at her village well right now. He could even be the Messiah! Even though the people in her town despised her as an adulteress and could easily just laugh at her, Jesus had forgiven her. Her village had to meet Him.
Have we had a thirsty conversation with Jesus recently? Do we have “water pots” worth dropping so our neighbors can hear we have found “living water?”
Steve & Lidia
Hard at work in Budapest
Inviting someone to follow Christ is spiritual work. The love it takes to prepare a soul for an invitation is also labor. Join Lidia and Steve and pray for their Hungarian neighbors.
“Marta, one of my coworkers of five years has a difficult personal situation and is now depressed. I have been praying and talking with her.
Since Christmas Steve and I have been helping Sarika, a feisty, retired engineer in our building, who is physically slowing down. I have been shopping for her and building a relationship.
Another non-Christian family – Tamás, Emese and Bence (19) are our neighbors too. They are a relationally sick family and in dire trouble. Both of them have been unfaithful. The wife, has struggled with deep depression and has cancer. Recently Emese attempted suicide and it is a miracle that she survived. Éva, from our church, who is herself battling with cancer, has befriended Emese. “Why did I survive?” asked Emese. Éva replied, “Because God has a plan for your life.” Emese is listening. Lidia takes daily meals to Bence.
On July 5th 10,000 will attend a festival in western Hungary. We lead a prayer seminar andwill hand out bookmarks Steve created to draw interest to Praying Mothers (Imádkozó Édesanyák). Later Family magazine will do an interview about Praying Mothers.”
Does Lidia’s example encourage you to labor in the harvest field in your neighborhood?
Namet: Alive and praying
for his friends to believe
Namet, a believer for only 3 years, was driving five other coworkers home from work when they were hit by a train. Every two months in Baku a carload of people are killed at this same extremely dangerous railroad crossing. But this time no one died!!
Namet’s pelvis was broken and he was confined to bed for two months for recovery. But not one person in his car perished!!! At work everyone decided Namet and his colleagues were delivered because he is a believer in Missa (the Messiah).
This obviously is not a way one plans to make Christ known. But in this case Namet had clearly done his job of letting his light shine at work. His colleagues knew of his faith in Christ and so they gave Jesus the credit for delivering them. Our colleague who reported this incident also mentioned that other stories about “Missa” are drifting from Azeri believers in Azerbaijan into their homeland of Iran where 20 million Azeri Shia still call on Allah.
Other gospel efforts are underway this summer by Leading Edge partners in Eurasia. Mission to the East just gave a sewing workshop for teens in Orzhiv that “sowed” news about Christ in western Ukraine. Mirt in Russia handed out ribbons and gospel tracts at Easter. ARKA is about to start summer camps in a few weeks in the Ukraine as well as Poland. SLOT is finishing preparations to host 6000 Polish youth for an Art Festival. Jodi in Budapest is finding many new contacts in the business community. Let’s pray for Christ’s name to be praised in all 10 timezones of Eurasia this summer!
Zb is excited about telling stories. He discovered a way to combine two things he loves – stories of his life in Central Asia and the very lost young people of secular Europe. He has discovered that the young people he wants to reach share his love for travel, but struggle to relate to people from other cultures. Zb now tells his stories to dozens even hundreds in café’s, art museums and universities.
Zb’s stories highlight why Jesus is the key to understanding culture. Jesus’ birth story is unforgettable. The king of heaven is born in a stable because his parents couldn’t afford a room. Mysterious wise men follow an unusual star and shepherds heard an angel chorus. One winter night the Lord entered our world changing it forever and pointed the way how the humble may challenge culture.
Another master storyteller at Eagle Lake Camp in Colorado left a vivid impact on me. I can still picture his characterizations of Goliath’s dense shield bearer or King David “crossing the tracks” to help crippled Mephibosheth. The speaker ended his talk by reciting “The Touch of the Master’s Hand.” Like every boy listening in that A-frame, I knew my Master had a plan for my life and it was not insignificant.
What was your story in 2012? Get ready. Jesus has a story planned for you in 2013!
I recommend two, ten minute videos posted on YouTube that depict the story of the narrative poem: “The Touch of the Master’s Hand.”
Part one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jSlU45Y_lk
Part two: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgEgpg2NV-k
Rain, Steam and Speed. Turner (1775-1851)
Boarding the train to Prague a young woman sat down in my coupé. She stared out her window, lost in thought. I opened my Bible and read. Hours later, we began trading stories about life in the cultures of Europe. Lyuba grew up in rural Slovakia, studied medicine in Germany and worked at a hospital in Prague. Soon the conversation turned serious.
Lyuba’s dream job was doing brain research at a university. But she took an emergency room job to stay with her Czech boyfriend. She hated the pressure of making life and death decisions every day. After 10 years of study, she felt lonely, unprepared, and trapped in the wrong job. Lyuba’s elderly parents wanted her to come home and start a family. She and her boyfriend were not ready for this.
I told a few ‘wisdom’ stories about my career and marriage decisions and pointed towards a Creator God who loves her. Lyuba listened respectfully, but remained skeptical that God was either real or relevant. There are few skilled gospel workers who can point people like Lyuba to the Lord instead of the despair of secular European culture.
Shhh! Little Nel is asleep.
New life is so refreshing, so precious! New parents can’t wait to email relatives or post pictures on Facebook for the world to see.
Can you blame Darla (photo below) for smiling with these new Ukrainian mothers? She knows one of the ladies in this Bible group, Katya, was just born anew in the kingdom of God.
May the joy of spiritual parents ring out everywhere!
* Polish, Slovak and Bulgarian teachers seek new life for their students.
* Central Asian refugees in Moscow learn of Jesus.
* Czech couples study practical Bible lessons about family life.
* Belorussian and Bulgarian Roma (Gypsy) prepare children to enter school
Are the spiritual or physical mums happier?