Hot off the press!

October 29

This is the NEW evangelism. Finally answering the questions the culture is asking.

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Professor, Dr. John Lennox speaks to a packed house in Ljubljana, Slovenia

IMG_1159 croppedI am completely out of order here and will fill in with my other blogs within a few days but I had to share something exciting right away. There is no country in Europe as far from God as Slovenia. With centuries of Catholicism followed by atheistic Communism, the country is everywhere filled with skepticism and atheism. The churches are small and are disregarded as irrelevant.

A few courageous people decided to bring Oxford professor, Dr. John Lennox to Ljubljana University and put him into the middle of the lions den. Of course, John has been in this predicament many times before when debating such people as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchins and Peter Singer.

This afternoon at Ljubljana University he answered questions from five professors on the subject of, “Does Modern Science Lead to God?” It was quite adversarial but John held his own and never surrendered an inch of turf.

IMG_1152Tonight he appeared to an audience of at least four hundred in the Cankarjev dom (Cultural Center). The subject was, “Higgs-Bozon – God of the Gaps?” For over an hour and a half he held his audience and made a powerful case for the existence of God. Following this he took questions from the audience and with ten minutes left he gave a concise, reasonable and clear presentation of the gospel.

There is no Christian event that I can think of that could have attracted either this size of audience or gained this kind of reception. He was roundly applauded. Atheists would have been greatly disturbed had they been in the audience as he unraveled many of the arguments against theism one by one.

This was one heck of a good night and I wish you could have been there.

No time for getting old

October 24 

My younger friends insisted that I come along.

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I sometimes have the idea that I will arrive at my destination, get unpacked and settled in and have a nice rest before rolling my sleeves up.  I made it to my room above the church by 1 in the afternoon and was met by old friends Rok, Palona, Sergeja, Mitja, Deanna and the pastors wife, Sabina.I have been coming here to Ljubljana for about fifteen years and associated with this church for at least eight and in that time I can see incredible growth in a “gospel resistant” culture. Binkostna Cerkev Center now has two services and may be the largest evangelical church in the capital city with about one-hundred-twenty on Sunday. Pastor Chris Scobie has a vision to build a one million plus euro building as a visible witness to the gospel. A new mosque is being built, financed by Qatar wealth will exceed twelve million and be the largest mosque in Europe.

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These people are amazing, most have no income to speak of but have devoted themselves fully to the Lord. For this reason they live in rooms above the church or some still live with family members though they are in their thirties. The average income is around 350 euro a month. We have so much and they have so little.

IMG_0945TO MARIBOR… Slovenia’s second largest city an hour and a half to the northeast

Todd Honicutt of California has been serving in Slovenia for years. A musician, he uses music to pry the lid off of Slovenia and let some light into this dark place where there so much corruption, New Age, superstition,  alcoholism, incest, abuse and violence. First it was Catholicism, followed by Communism and then war which left the people of the IMG_0924Balkans (Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia)  utterly crushed. Many people from the other Balkan poorer states have come come to Ljubljana looking for some sort of refuge or employment.

With this in mind Todd arranged to bring an eight member musical group from Modesto, California and give free concerts in various cities. The title of the event was. “A Gift of the Heart” and quite a number of unchurched people came to hear songs from the sixties to the present with explanations of how music reflects the inner needs and longings of every culture. At the end they offered a number of Christian songs and closed with a rousing rendition of  “Oh, Happy Day,” to which most stood to their feet and sang along.

IMG_0957The night before they were in Ljubljana with about three hundred and in Maribor about two hundred-fifty attended. For the church in Slovenia this is successful since at least half have never been to a Christian event.

Binkostna in Ljubljana has translated and published about twenty books for a country that has has almost nothing Christian to read. They now have a publishing company, Horeb and put out a book table whenever there is an opportunity of getting Bibles and Christian literature into the hands of Slovenians.

I finally crawled into my bed at about one in the morning, exhausted but happy.

A day at the Kort house… short but sweet

October 22

IMG_0830I arrived late in the evening on Tuesday at the Koln/Bonn Airport and picked-up by Daniel Kort, ACCI missionary who lives in Germany but works with the New Life Literature in Sri Lanka. New Life prints ‘LOW COST” Bibles and Christian literature for “World C” and in particular for the underground church of China. Dan and Irene were IMG_0816students of mine at Bethany College of Missions and perhaps the first people I recruited to work with ACCI. They joined up and went to Sri Lanka for five years where they worked with our Norwegian ministry friends, New Life Literature. They now are back in Germany looking after aging parents and raising their two adorable kids, Jocelin (Jocy) and Josias.

IMG_0829They have settled into the top floor apartment of a beautiful home near the city of Siegburg about twenty minutes from the Koln/Bonn airport.  After chatting for a short while I went off to bed with the idea of taking a day trip to the famous and Germany’s most visited city of Cologne (Koln) the next morning.

 

IMG_0828Irene is a great hostess and loves breakfast so I woke up to a table filled with the typical German breakfast of variety of meats, cheeses, breads, jelly, sliced vegetables and coffee. At about ten we left by train for the center of the city. We did the usual, walked around and into the cathedral then walked the streets (you can learn more about this in the earlier blog). It didn’t take long until Dan found a IMG_0869German brewery known for their amazing traditional foods. This was an absolutely incredible ale house / restaurant with more than two thousand seats and three hundred employees to keep it all moving. This was my treat and not bad since I got a free bed for two nights. I always like to take the ACCI missionaries out for something special since most of the time their finances are limited. We ordered up several different dishes and then passed these around the table so we could all taste the various items. I was not disappointed and one of the best things about visiting Germany is their hearty (substantial) dishes.

IMG_0897We walked along the Rhine, went back to their village had some coffee out of doors on a beautiful day and then home to visit some more before Irene pulled out another outstanding food experience of a brothy, stewed Sri Lankan chicken on a bed of fried rice. This she learned how to do from a master chef with Sri Lankan Airlines. It was terrific and the only problem with this kind of meal is that when you are as full as one could be, you want to keep eating.

Morning came and Daniel rushed me back to the airport for my flight to Klagenfurt, Austria to meet Pastor Chris Scobie of Ljubljana, Slovenia.

 

True to form…

IMG_0847IMG_0849  IMG_0857After visiting the largest Gothic cathedral in all of Europe we walked through the crowded streets of Cologne. As we went along I encountered a fellow who had the sign, “Jesus IMG_0860is Alive” and though he didn’t express much joy regarding this truth he was there and I was thankful for him. As we went a little further a young girl handed us some literature that turned out to be from the Jews for Jesus so I had a nice talk with some on her team.

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A little farther and then here were the well dressed  Jehovah’s Witnesses with very nice promotional materials. I find it impossible to pass them by without a challenge so I stopped and made them aware that their Bible, “The New World” translation has been proven to be a fraudulent translation. I gave them a number of verifiable reasons why this is so and told them how to check out the details of my position. I quoted many scriptures as examples and this left them in stunned silence. Finally, I showed them  that they offered nothing more than Roman Catholicism, the Mormons or the Muslims and how they could only be serving the Watchtower for one of two reasons, either they were afraid of God or trying to earn something from Him.  Christians do all that they do out of love for God  and no organization on the planet procures salvation on their behalf. This was more fun than the ice cream we enjoyed later in the day so Jesus was right when he said, “I have eat and drink you know not of.”

A lesson in evangelism

October 20

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I was brought here to talk about fresh evangelism methods. This I did over two nights to a group of about twenty-five people. Betel Free Evangelical Church is a Pentecostal congregation with another Pentecostal church within two city blocks. The churches often cooperate and have identical beliefs but different histories. Betel is an older congregation that sits down the hill some three blocks (1,000 meters) from a small progressive university with about 2,500 hundred students specializing in education, journalism and media. Some of these students I have had occasion to meet at Rokken which serves as the Student Union  hosting bands several times a week.

IMG_0787It is interesting that young Norwegians are quite comfortable engaging older people in conversation and it doesn’t appear that there is near the “gender gap” here as there is in America. For this reason I made acquaintance with quite a number and, though without any spiritual moorings, found  them to be friendly, intelligent and articulate. Almost all want to defend sex outside of marriage and and when they hear the words, “Christian” or “church”, this is where they go.

IMG_0779Little Betel church sits between Rokken and the student residences so several years ago they came up with the bright idea of having an “Open House” with free hot dogs and drinks until nearly three in the morning after the club is closed. In order to do this, they changed the church meeting time to Sunday evening at five.

Gunnar Andaas my host and colleague

Gunnar Andaas my host and colleague

At first, my friend Gunnar didn’t know how it would work or if any one would come but he took a power point projector and put an invitation the full size of the church and waited to see.  They were flooded with young people sometimes until five in the morning. I wanted to see this for myself and this is part of the reason for coming all this way. Gunnar thought that  I could answer many of the students questions, especially concerning creation and comparative religion . At first it was very slow and Gunnar was apologetic. He didn’t know there was a special Halloween event at Rokken that would run later than usual. At about midnight I thought I might turn in but just then the room filled up with about thirty young people in costumes. I ventured over to a table, sat down and a spunky, young lady of twenty-three looked me square on and said, “Tell me why you believe in Jesus Christ and why you think I should too.” After covering pretty much the entire Bible, in two hours we emerged from the conversation as friends and instructions on what to do next. In a scale of 1 to 10, this was an eleven. The best part of the story is this, there were three in the group and another five or so who listened in. Over the last three days, I have had the unique privilege of sharing the gospel with some ten or more people. With some I managed to say little while with others I manged to get the ball some distance down the field. It is all rather hard, slow work as most have been confirmed but not evangelized.

 Many that I talk to are influenced more by popular media and “hear-say” than any thing of substance. In most conversations those I talk to who claim some sort of  “spirituality” fail to be able to define what they mean and wind up saying that “it just feels right.” All of the religious and belief systems I have encountered so far turn out to be entirely subjective. When I ask questions about these preferences most crumble under the weight of hearing their own voices as they try to articulate what they believe. Truth is of little value here and most are uncertain that it can be known at all. Truth is simply a matter of personal preference (True for you but not for me).

You’d think I would have this figured out

October 19

IMG_0784Having my meals in restaurants will drive me to the poor house so I decided to figure out some more economical means of feeding myself. Why this idea has escaped me, I have no idea. At any rate, for a third of the price I can buy a full pre-cooked meal in a box. These are much more hearty than the Swanson TV dinners we IMG_0788have at home. On Saturday I had an enormous meal of lamb, potatoes and cabbage. Admittedly, in true Norwegian style I had to jack it up a bit with salt and pepper but all things considered and at one-third the restaurant price (49 NOK or $8.00 US), I had a grand supper. I recommend this approach and will do it in other places in the future as long as I have a microwave or a way of boiling water. It might not look so good but it tasted great!

Exciting and busy weekend…

 October 19 

IMG_0761Except for one very foul mouthed woman with a chip on her shoulder, I have met tons of lovely people. Since the only place I can get internet is at the library I do my email and blogging from there. While working away a librarian on temporary contract began talking with me and telling me all about the things to see in the area. When she closed up she said why don’t you come over to my village, they have a IMG_0766very nice coffee shop and there you can meet my husband. So she kidnapped me for about three hours. While we waited in the coffee shop for her husband to arrive, I had about an hour direct witness with her. She is lovely but leans more toward New Age and Hinduism as many people here do. Finally her husband joined us and after we all finished our coffee and cheese cake I was persuaded to go to on a short sight see and then to meet family members, a daughter, mother, grandmother and sister. It was quite a surprising and beneficial afternoon!