Southern Europe Trip

Southern Europe: A day of rest

Colossians 3:16
“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

It is very hard to believe we have come to the end of the trip.  What started as a very daunting and monumental challenge, God has transformed.  Everyone on the team has expressed their heart-felt desire to continue the work, and have become comfortable in difficult situations.  We are all so very thankful.  In some small measure I hope we have learned something of what Paul meant when he wrote, "...I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."  (Philippians 4:12-13) Certainly we have not been without food, but we have most definitely had to depend on God for our strength in difficult circumstances. 

We have seen God do amazing things.  This week the other team leader and I have prayed together that we would experience the work of the Holy Spirit in amazing ways.  We prayed that we would meet some who had experienced visions of Christ calling them to Him.  While that did not happen as we thought, the other leader had an encounter with a man who was very adamantly opposed to the message we brought.  After a very lengthy discussion he prayed for the man and felt led to pray that man might have a vision of Christ that very night.  We knew we may never see the man again, but believed God could reveal Himself.  Amazingly, that night, our leader had a dream he was attacked by the man, who came at him with a knife.  They struggled together and then the man began to try to stab himself.  Our leader fought to keep the man from killing himself with the knife, holding him in a headlock as he pushed against the knife - then he woke up.  We believe that dream was a direct answer to his prayer.  We also believe the man he prayed for may have also been given a vision; we hope God will use it to change his heart.

Even more amazing, was our final night of worship together.  I have been praying earnestly that we all would participate in seeing someone come to salvation. While in faith, we continued to hope and pray for big things, the last day seemed slow and relatively uneventful. A theme that came to my heart was Psalm 46:10, which says, “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”  The day ended and we assembled for our final worship service of the trip.  As we entered the building a man approached me asking if he could join us.  I asked our hosts and they agreed.  During that service one of our hosts was able to share the gospel with him and he made a decision to follow Jesus that very night.  Everyone was there and got to share in the experience!  This was a direct answer to my prayer for the week and took place at the very last session!  Our God is truly amazing!

In the end, our combined team distributed 1,817 packages which included Bibles, the 4 spiritual laws, and other instructional materials, all 1n multiple languages.  This is a record number of packages given out since the beginning of the outreach.  Three of the highest days ever recorded were this week.  Pray this material makes its way into the hearts and hands of those that will respond.  We know God is building His church and we are grateful to have been a part of reaching very difficult places. 

Today we debrief and have an afternoon of rest before our departure tomorrow.  Please pray that we will be able to recover from a very tiring schedule and that we will continue to enjoy good fellowship.  Also, please pray for the next two teams that pick up the work today. Finally, please pray for our travel schedules as tomorrow is another very early morning; we must leave for the airport at 2:00 am. 

Thank you for your prayers!

 

Southern Europe: The work of Evangelism (Day 7)

Jeremiah 32:17
“‘Ah Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You.”

As we enter our final day of direct service, we are amazed by how quickly the time has gone by and by what amazing work God has done.  Our goal is to finish well as we enter our final day with prayerful expectation.  Opposition was reduced yesterday, but we come into this day with high hopes that we will be even more diligent and that God will work even greater wonders on this day than on any other.  Please pray with us that we will not be overcome by tiredness or distractions but rather by the power of the Holy Spirit. We dedicate ourselves on this day to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.(Ephesians 3:20-21) 

We continue to pray specifically for a person we call Saul, that we will see him today, but broken by a vision of conversion.  That he will come to the full knowledge of God, as Paul did, radically changed from a persecutor of Christ to a fellow laborer.

Also, please pray for the next two teams coming in pick up and continue our work.  They are mostly college age students, and our prayer is that they will quickly catch vision and work diligently under the power of the Holy Spirit and that they might see even greater works than we have seen.   

Please continue praying for opportunities for more personal interaction, ones that might allow us to explain the gospel in a personal way, but specifically that we all might see some come to faith. Please pray we will truly find many more people of peace.  Please continue to pray for the many packages that have gone out and specifically for the people we call Salam, Henry, Simon, Adelle, and a woman named Nebia as well as Nunu and Kit.  

Thank you for your prayers!

 

Southern Europe: The work of Evangelism (Day 6)

Psalm 27
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread? When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh, My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell. Though a host encamp against me, My heart will not fear;
Though war arise against me, In spite of this I shall be confident. One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord And to meditate in His temple.”

It is no surprise that we have encountered direct opposition to the work we have been doing.  "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." Therefore, on behalf of our team I ask that you pray on OUR behalf, that utterance may be given to US in the opening of OUR mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which WE ARE ambassadors...; that in proclaiming it WE may speak boldly, as WE ought to speak.  (Ephesians 6:12) 

While we have not felt physically threatened, there are those that have stood on corners attempting to warn others to avoid us and our message.  When this happens we are ignored and sometimes verbally rebuked.  More significantly, the enemy had a person go behind us and remove the bibles and literature from those that were willing to receive it.  They have worked in direct opposition to the Word of God going out, snatching away the seed before it can take root.  Please pray specifically a person we call Saul, that he will have a vision of conversion, as Paul did, radically changing him from a persecutor to a fellow laborer.

Despite these added challenges, we continue to be in good spirits and make good progress.  We have prayerfully put on the full armor of God and pray for God to fight on our behalf and remove obstacles and open hearts.  To the extent possible we altered our strategy to send people to share the good news at a place before they can be 'alerted' by others.  We continue to exceed the goals of the host team and thankfully the Word of God is going out.

Please continue praying for opportunities for more personal interaction as well, ones that might allow us to explain the gospel in a personal way.  We have offered big prayers and hope to encounter more signs of the Holy Spirit working.  We earnestly seek to find more people of peace.  Please continue to pray earnestly for people we will call Salam, Henry, Simon, Adelle, and a woman named Nebia as well as Nunu and Kit.  Please continue to pray for interactions over the last two days, that some might even have visions of Christ's calling which we have seen in the past. 

Thank you for your prayers!

 

Southern Europe: The Work of Evangelism (Day 2-5)

Psalm 3
“But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head. I was crying to the Lord with my voice, And He answered me from His holy mountain. I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustains me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people Who have set themselves against me round about..”

We have spent the weekend doing the work of evangelism in not only public arenas but also within the city.  We have averaged nearly 250 contacts each day and have set a record for the number of contacts since this ministry began with over 317 given out on Saturday and well over 1,000 total.  We have had excellent interaction with the other team from Arkansas.  Thank you for your prayers!  Please know they have been felt and greatly appreciated!

While we have been very glad to have had so many contact we have been earnestly praying for opportunities for more personal interaction as well, ones that might allow us to more fully explain the gospel in a personal way and share the reason for the hope we have in Christ.  We have offered big prayers asking for signs of the Holy Spirit working.  These have been seen!  Many of the team have had the chance to find people of peace and share the 4 Spiritual Laws in other languages.  We have even had some approach us to ask why we are here among them.  These have led to some very sensitive conversations and some that we think many indicate true conversion.  I cannot provide any details in this forum, but please pray earnestly for people we will call Salam, Henry, Simon, Adelle, and a woman named Nebia.  We continue to pray for interactions over the next couple of day, that some might even have visions of Christ's calling which we have seen in the past. 

Certainly, not everyone is receptive to our presence and our message.  Please pray for protection for us.  Some have confronted us; we have not been intimidated, but they actively work to subvert our access to people.  Also, we often find ourselves 'competing' with JWs and others for space.  Please pray that our message will not be confused with the message of those that do not preach the true Christ.    Also, please continue to pray for strength and encouragement for the team.  We begin very early and there is a lot of walking.  Everyone remains in good spirits and we are working well together but pray that we will not become discouraged by exhaustion or the many rejections we encounter.  Most of all pray that we will be encouraged as we continue to seek interaction with people of peace and that each one will have the opportunity to participate in seeing at least one person to true conversion... a big goal in the environment we are in!  We have three days of active engagement ahead and are greatly encouraged by the success we have seen and seeing God at work. 

Southern Europe: The Work of Evangelism (Day 1)

1 Corinthians 3:5b-9
“As the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, [others] watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.”

What does it mean to do evangelism?  In our context it has been defined as, "taking the initiative to share God's Word, under the power of the Holy Spirit, and trust God for the results. 

Evangelism also requires tools.  Our primary tools are our personal testimonies, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit.  We all have practiced sharing our testimonies but we are often hindered by strong cultural and language barriers.  Fortunately we have also been equipped with Bibles in multiple languages, which also include the 4 spiritual laws in many languages.  The 4 spiritual laws is a useful tool because it is comprehensive, including not only the Gospel but also tools for spiritual growth.  It also specifically walks through a prayer of repentance.  With these and a heavy dependence on the Holy Spirit our team has distributed literature to more than 250 families today.  

On our first day we found ourselves primarily serving in the role of sower in the lives of the people we spoke with.  you will find a reference to this in Luke 8.

Jesus ...spoke by way of a parable: “The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell beside the road, and it was trampled under foot and the birds of the air ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. Other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out. Other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great.” As He said these things, He would call out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Please pray with us that God will allow the seeds we cast to fall on good soil, that it will be watered, and that He will allow it to take root and produce fruit 100 fold!

Thank you for your prayers!

Southern Europe: Hitting the Streets

2 Timothy 1:6-8a
“For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love  and discipline.  Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord....”

Our training is behind us and we're ready to begin service in earnest.  Some of us must be at the team meeting at 4:30 am, with others filling various shifts throughout the day.  We have learned many new phrases and even looked up verses in other languages.  We were able to celebrate with a nice dinner near the water.

Today we are praying more than ever for the opportunities we will have to share with others; people from many other nations and walks of life. The biggest fear is of the unknown.  But God has not given us a spirit of fear.  He has given us His Holy Spirit and everything we need to share the hope we have in Christ!  Our prayer has been that we will be serving, not out of obligation or to follow a set of objectives set before us, but rather that we will serve out of genuine love for our Lord and that our words and attitudes will reflect the deep, deep, love we have for Him.

Please pray for:

  • Our walk with God, that it will grow ever deeper as we move forward in obedience and faith.
  • The Holy Spirit to be active, that we will see His mighty influence in our hearts and among those we speak to.
  • Our work, that we will be bold, humble, and thankful, making the most of our time and every opportunity.
  • Our efforts, that they would bear much fruit.

Thank you for your prayers!

Southern Europe: Navigating the Streets

Psalm 32:8
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”

Where is my assignment today?  Which way to the Offsite Meeting location?  Should I take the metro or walk?  A major task in navigating a major city is finding your way around. Our training yesterday was about finding our way around and getting comfortable in our surroundings.  There are so many people trying to find their way through life, and our prayer is that we will be able to connect with these people over the coming 10 days.  But who are they?  How do we know who and where to find the souls God wants us to touch?  We are trusting in God and leadership from the Holy Spirit.

Today we will be praying for those opportunities as we learn the 'how' to approach and connect with the people we are focused on reaching. To do that we want to be open to God's leading. We know He has promised to guide us and teach us, and that he has His eyes upon us.  Sometimes that leading might come from subtle movements of the eye or nods, much like a parent would guide the actions of a child with body language rather than just words.  We want to be open to all of His guidance and teaching every day.  That cannot happen effectively unless we also keep our eyes on Him. 

Please continue to pray for:

  • Humility and thankfulness in our hearts as we prepare to serve and that we will deepen our walk with our Lord and Savior. 
  • Strong relationships and unity among those serving.   Good relationships are forming and we hope to continue down a path that strengthens our efforts and encourages one another. 
  • That the Holy Spirit will be active that we will see His mighty influence in our hearts and among those we speak to.
  • That we will be bold, humble, and thankful, making the most of our time and every opportunity and that our efforts here will bear much fruit.

Thank you for your prayers!