Trip 38 / Entry 14 / Kobarid, Slovenia

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Always treasure where and when you find it.

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Later we took a drive to visit a few of the friends of Andrej and Lydja’s ministry. At this point Andrej wisely doesn’t  intend to start a “church” and for good reason. This would be considered suspiciously and viewed as competitive with the Parish church. AFTER ALL, THE REFORMATION WAS STOPPED IN IT’S ADVANCE RIGHT HERE. Protestant and evangelical faith here is the doctrine of hell. He doesn’t need to contend with undue attention and criticism so he prefers to simply create a community of people who want to learn the Bible together and this approach has caused people to drive some distance to hear him teach on Friday nights.

In this group that met on Friday night were two interesting attenders I said that I would like to meet. The first of these were Maja and her father, Branko who was an atheist for most of his life. Though she didn’t give the details, it appeared that Maja was a bit of a party girl but finally came up empty and while tutoring a village lady in mathematics who inquired about her spiritual condition, she, in time, called upon the name of the Lord.

IMG_2214Maja doesn’t seem to be intimidated by much so she shared the gospel with many. Her family members were resistant but now some of them have also embraced Jesus alone for their eternity. It turned out that her dad who lived under the same roof was the most difficult but eventually surrendered to Jesus as well. Branko is now as soft as putty and whenever he mentioned his conversion or the name of Jesus, his eyes filled with tears and he has to look away. This strong, physical Yugoslav is no push over (most men in this region are real men) but now rushes to his bedside to retrieve his crumpled and well-worn prayer list of some thirty or more names.

As most of you know, I am not an advocate of a hard, fatalistic, Reform sovereignty but when one finds any believer here, it is always “a brand plucked from the fire.” The stories are always so amazing that one must admit to the sovereign reach of God. It is so very dark. The box is sealed so tightly, there is so little light but one word can punch a hole in the box and the truth is, the box is no longer pitch dark at all. The light may be dim for years until another hole comes and more light floods in but finally the entire, once dark  box, is flooded with light. Even after a person is “converted” there is much work to be done. Andrej knows that the key is the word of God and that “the entrance of His word gives light.”

Trip 38 / Entry 12 / Kobarid, Slovenia

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Outreach

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IMG_5039I was quite happy to see the room fill in some and by the advertised time of 7:30. the crowd was somewhat respectable considering most people consider any church other than Catholic a “sect” which actually means a cult and something to be avoided. Events of this nature are most often viewed suspiciously and shunned by the general society at large. Even though Andrej is a hometown boy and known by IMG_4964almost everyone, no one knows quite what to make of him. So, before we ever begin the cards are stacked against us. Almost no one knows of or has ever heard the gospel so it is quite foreign to the ears of almost everyone and sounds to all like a strange doctrine.

IMG_5105Nevertheless, Andrej and Lydja keep smiling and inviting folks to their Bible studies and events. Tonight we have mustered about twenty locals, some driving from as far away as one hour. Altogether, counting our team we have an audience of perhaps thirty.

The music starts with Andrej on guitar, Mateja on piano and Polona helping with vocals. The crowd does their best to sing and after four or five choruses I am introduced as the special speaker. With translation I spoke almost an hour on “Who Is the Real Jesus?” At first the congregation seemed impossible to connect with but soon with text opened up and lots of story telling, I had them listening and interacting. At the conclusion I offered Jesus with one person responding. To some of my readers, this may seem like nothing but you have no idea what a decision like this will cost a person. It is a huge undertaking and people must count the cost. Several others talked with me following the concluding prayer and wanted counsel and prayer.

IMG_5249 CROPDuring my message one little girl of about eight years listened to every word and I could tell that she understood in English. Following the meeting I enjoyed meeting her mom, dad and sister. We had a great deal in common since the Kelley’s come as Southern Baptist missionaries from Texas, a denomination and state I know well.

 

 

Trip to Cotswold gets cut short

On the way to Burford

The next morning, after another “Full English Breakfast” in Banbury, Jeanne and I packed for an exciting trip in to the Peaks District and Cotswold Country,  a region with old English, Beatrix Potter charm.  For a time, for a few hours in the morning, this was what we enjoyed.  We went by lovely private estates lined by thatched roofed, immaculately tailored, beige stone homes. Once we came to the village of Burford, near other towns with names like Chipping Norton and Shipston on Stour, we got out to take in the picture-book beauty.

The Cotswold Arms

We enjoyed a cup of tea and sweet rolls, then Jeanne went to the car while I took about half an hour to snap a few pictures. This is when the bad news came. A fellow came walking down the hill, looked suspiciously at our car, and then gained Jeanne’s attention to tell her that it appeared that we had a bubble on our tire, a potential for a blow-out. He gravely suggested that we should have it looked at, since a member of his own family had recently suffered a blow out on the highway from the same thing. When I returned to the car, Jeanne relayed the message. I shrugged my shoulders, nonchalantly pulled on out to go to the next village, and then I began to think that it would be best to have this attended to in a more populated area.  I coasted into a safe spot at an intersection along a narrow road and took a look for myself. “Yep, I have a problem,” I decided, so I called Avis. This was where the real problem began. The plans for this day had to be shelved while we attended to this automotive distraction. After a rather annoying series of  calls to the Avis Roadside Assistance Team, I was told that if they came to help I would be charged about two-hundred thirty pounds or more than $350. So I decided to drive to the Avis location in Oxford, some thirty minutes to the southeast, and hopefully visit Cotswold on some other day.

Shades of “Tell It Like It Is!”

Many of our older friends will remember our early days in evangelism when we bought a Winnebago, procured a small circus tent that seated about two-hundred fifty people and traveled on the weekends from Maniwaki, Quebec to Orillia Ontario preaching the gospel from town to town and farmers field to farmers field. Those were fun but complicated days. I am older now and my life has slowed down a little – at least until last weekend.
The best we can under the prevailing circumstances.

The best we can under the prevailing circumstances.

One of the problems with teaching is that your students finally grow up, take on ministries of their own and unfortunately remember the stories that you told in the classroom. Such was the case when I got an email from Stephen Bounds on the other side of Charlotte.

Young people from Child Evangelism present the gospel.

Young people from Child Evangelism present the gospel.

Stephen and his wife Julie were in my evangelism and bible classes at Bethany some six or more years ago. They now have three children, another on the way and have lived in 17 different places since they were married. Stephen wound up overseeing the Plaza Baptist Church in the north Charlotte area dubbed with the regional distinction NO-DA (North Davidson).  NO-DA has an interesting reputation. On one side of the street you have the emmerging arts community. These folks have moved in, buying the older and at one time fashionable art-deco homes, remodeling them while on the other side of the street there remains WW II tract housing where as many as twelve or more African-Americans live with their extended families in two (rather small) bedroom homes. In effect, there are two communites in economic and cultural tension.

Here an unidentified man comes forward to get literature.

Here an unidentified man comes forward to get literature.

Stephen felt that he must do something to reach out to the surrounding neighborhoods so he invited me, Jeanne, eight  area churches and ministries like Child Evangelism Fellowship to join Plaza Baptist in a festival on their parking lot. Stephen went right ahead facing down the ominous weather forcast of rain, rain and more rain. Stephen is English so this may account for his lack of concern.  The weatherman was right. Nevertheless, the churches stood their ground and in the pouring rain continued all afternoon to preach the gospel in a variety of ways from clowning and worship groups to food and clothing give-aways to Hickory Baptist Church and their 2500 grilled wieners. In the picture below, it appears that I have had my fair share of wieners.

Preaching in the rain. Not a good day for drawing.

Preaching in the rain. Not a good day for drawing.

I did what I always have done when opportunity presents itself. I did drawings of both “Zaccheus” and then later “The Rich Young Ruler” and preached the gospel. I was once asked by a seminary professor of how I preached my last sermon. He inquired, “Was it expositional or topical?” In those days I didn’t know what those words meant so I just replied with the truth, “Loudly.” I preached “loudly” and in spite of the rain I got of attention and “Amen” agreement with what I had to say. The Baptists can be faulted for many things but one thing they are clear about, they know the old-fashioned, Bible gospel when they hear it.

Jeanne trying to stay dry.

Jeanne trying to stay dry.

I am home now, at least until Jeanne is on the mend. It was great to have her with me. Just like the old days when (it is not her calling) she went with me everywhere, supporting and encouraging. I will never take her for granted again. She has been the Lord’s “help meet” and my help mate.

The Book of Acts BCOM

It’s a good batch of folks.

My sixty-three waiting students.
My sixty-three waiting students.
I manage to pick-up about three gigs a year here at the college where I spent almost ten years. I am teaching Acts but will come back in a month for Corinthians and then in the summer I do two weeks on Apologetics for Evangelism.
There are 28 chapters in Acts. I have been given 24 hours to get through the entire thing and also provide two in class tests. Let me tell you how well I am doing at this. It is Wednesday, I have completed nine hours of my alotted twenty-four and we have just finished chapter 3.
I like these kids (a few adults are sprinkled in among them) and consider it a pleasure to be their instructor for a short time.