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.
Maja 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.”
This morning I made a slight error of judgment here in Ljubljana. I went out for a few minutes and sat down to have coffee when three drunken young people sat at the next table. I chatted a bit, they invited me to join them and then I offered to buy a round thinking coffee but they opted for Jack Daniels. The conversation ensued, talking about a fuzzy sort of “spirituality” and they seemed to take a liking to me until I mentioned “Jesus.”
All were raised Roman Catholics but now adamantly claimed to be atheists (but still pray to Mary) became unraveled with anger – cursing and immediate dismissal. One (I complimented him by saying he looked like Johnny Depp) rose up in disgust and left the table. It may have been the alcohol but I was saddened that they had no clear idea of who the real Jesus of the New Testament is. They were unwilling to hear even a word about the subject. They had no idea that he would be a good friend of their tattoos and dreadlocks. They only have the impossible to please, distant Jesus of the halo and stained glass window. Their preconceptions gave me not even a sliver of opportunity to unpack the authentic Jesus. This is tough ground. People have been so vaccinated with religion and superstition that they cannot contract the real thing. Roman Catholicism will undoubtedly have to answer for this catastrophe. These people have been taught the most ridiculous things concerning God and hardly a single one of them has any working knowledge of the New Testament. It is uphill every inch of the way.
Arriving in the city at about 7 PM with a head cold, Chris took me to my hotel and got me settled in where I went right to bed. I slept at least eleven or more hours and woke up on Saturday morning at around six. I got showered and dressed went down to the restaurant at 7, took in an amazing breakfast then headed out for an early morning walk with my camera in hand. Ljubljana is an amazingly charming, old world capital with wonderful architecture. Not only is the architecture beautiful but interiors can be very creative and attractive. Except for the Yugo automobile, I find the Slovenian and former Yugoslavian peoples to be very creative, good at both art and design.
Note: Jehovah’s Witnesses in Italy are much larger than protestant evangelicals. Perhaps only Islam and Occultism is larger.
I am now in Ljubljana and it took most of the day by train and car from Milan. As I arrived at the Milan train station early I had about forty minutes to engage the three Jehovah’s Witnesses at their Watchtower stand. I can only say it was not a good day for the JW’s. In fact, and this has never happened before, I countered everything so well that when I looked at what appeared to a “Newby” who had been intensely listening and told her to “get out now – it is a mind control cult”, she handed her magazines to the spokesperson and walked away. Perhaps she was late for work but by the way she listened, I don’t think so.
It didn’t end there. By divine providence a fair haired young man and his wife (I think his wife but who can tell anymore) spoke to me in Italian and took the reserved seats next to me. They turned out to be Israeli’s living in Milan. Now how do you think this ride went??? They got off at Padua and I went on to Mestre but I had a good time teaching Judaism to my Jewish friends. Pray for Nir and Inbal.