Awesome Lebanese!!! Cafe Marhaba

Not our plates (they were already a mess) but typical

Okay, okay, I know what yer thinkun! Yer thinkun, “Some kinda missionary this Hedrick guy is. We give him money so he can eat his way through Europe.” Look! When I find something good, I tell folks about it, I don’t hide my light under the bed but put it on a candlestick so that it might light the whole house. I am a city set upon a hill. Actually, I have eat and drink, ye know not of.  If we are feasting on the riches of His grace we should tell people about it. See, there is a similarity between sharing Jesus and telling people about a fantastic place to eat.

Pete doesn't get out much

Since I am traveling with this Egyptian (Pete), I decided tonight would be special for him and I’d locate some good Mediterranean food and did I ever! The Marhaba was walkable so at around 5:30 we struck out for what turned out to be an incredible meal. Knowing that we would be in what amounts to a rural monastery for the coming week, we pulled out the stops.

The delighted chef

I ordered lamb chops which came with bulgur covered in a spicy rich sauce featuring tomato, sliced onion, tiny okra and chick peas. Next to this was a leafy mediterranean salad.

Pete and I decided to split, so he went with some kind of flavorful herbie beef (I have no idea what aromatic touch this happened to be), roasted potatoes, salad and tzatziki sauce. We divided and passed the food across the table, rolled up our sleeves and went to work. After a few sighs we leaned back in our chairs and slowed down to savour every bite. Let me define the experience this way… Have you ever seen a movie you never wanted to come to the end of?

I’m going to be completely honest, though our dinner was interrupted by a fire bell – the art school on the second floor did it again – this may have been one of my best meals EVER!!! If you visit Oslo I suggest you visit this cozy little spot only a few doors from the recent bombings. You’ll find Cafe Marhaba at Keysergi 1, 0165 Oslo. Reserve by calling 22 11 35 00.

Double or nothun, so to speak…

Read this great offer below…

1st Corinthians at Bethany

In less than a week Jeanne retires from The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in order to join me in ministry. Immediately, we will go to Minneapolis for two weeks where I will teach Acts at Bethany College of Missions.

After returning home for a couple of weeks we fly to Oslo, Norway where, for two months, we will be serving in various Bible training centers, preaching in Pentecostal and Lutheran churches and speaking at two conferences – one in Bergen and the other in Bjorli. We have also been invited to make a ten day trip to Italy where we will join with Italians and Spanish in an evangelistic outreach. We have just launched our second congregation in Fidenza near Parma where I have worked for almost ten years. We’d love to have you invest with us in this venture to make more and better disciples.

Look at the offer that a long time friend and donor recently made.

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Here is our proposal:

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In Canada: ACCI 89 Auriga, Nepean, Ontario  K2E 7Z2

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Entry 37 / Goodbye European Tour Twenty-Nine

On the hunt

That’s it… that’s all. There’s many more stories that I could tell but this is enough for now.

Entry / 30 Oslo, Norway

Thursday Morning, October 21, 2010 from Eltham (London).

Blogging at the Tudor Barn

I arrived here yesterday and with only four more days of this tour I finish up my report on Norway from here. I am sitting on a sofa in the Tudor Barn coffee shop near the church where I stay. I have had a rough night of it with a bed that didn’t cooperate and some concerning news that I received from home last evening.  I am tired but will do my best to catch up with some blogging today.

Written yesterday on Flight DY104 from Oslo

My lodging at The GO Center

I am now on a Norwegian Air flight to London, Gatwick. It is Wednesday at about 1PM Norwegian time and I should be in London an hour later their time (1 hour ahead).

The GO Center Main Facility

Completely overwhelmed by the openness and reception here in Norway I don’t know what to do in the future. I made the funny comment to Norwegian friends that talking to Norwegian audiences when compared to southern or Latino was something akin to playing basketball with a half inflated ball. The ball looks right until one tries to bounce it and then it just bounces less and less until it lays flat, unmoving, dead still on the floor. It has been this way for me. Whether it is humorous or serious, I face the same expressionless personalities. Yet, at the end of things there seems to be a favorable response. Perhaps still waters indeed do run deep. Afterall, Norwegians have been tenacious missionaries on some of the most difficult fields of the world.

Some of the forty or more students

For instance, I felt that many of messages fell flat but then afterward those who seem to understand the culture better than I do have had encouraging things to say. There were personal comments as well, with church attendees and students stopping to express their appreciation. There were those who said that they were touched and many who made decisions to follow Christ.

This leaves me in a quandary of sorts. I now have invitations to return to Norway in the spring. Both the Lutheran and Free Pentecostal denominations, Smyrna Bible Institute and The Go Center have asked me to return. Gerson Celeti has asked that I speak on Evangelism in the Marketplace at a Tentmakers Conference in Bergen on the west coast during the first week of June.  The SBI wants me to return to teach Bible and perhaps an outreach course on watercolor. Reidar Gamst is arranging for me to preach in the churches both west and south. In all, they have asked that I be available to them for a month from the last week of April through the first week of June. I would hope that, should I decide to do this, that I would have a window in the schedule for a trip to my friends in Slovenia and my beloved Italy.

 

 

Entry 26 / A Week of Evangelism

October 11-18, 2010

The Class

I have about fifteen enrolled students and another three or so who are sitting in. This is not a big class but the good thing is they are all pretty focused and serious. Since my style is rather unorthodox, the first couple of days the students have the proverbial “deer in the headlights” expression on their faces. Though most of the students are English speakers those that cannot get me “first person” are really stunned because they are not able to relate my antics and facial expressions with my words. Nevertheless, at the end of the week we are all friends and comrades. The goal is to go out with the gospel on Friday and Saturday so I am working in this direction to prepare them to aggressively and intentionally encounter complete strangers, not a very Norwegian thing to do.

Andreas being strapped in

Within a couple of days everyone is getting the idea that I am not going to force them to stand on a soap box in the village square and shout their testimonies or go door to door with canned gospel presentations so they are settling into the idea evangelism as a good thing – just a way of life.

My student friend Sara happens to be a naturally gifted evangelist so she is already figuring our ways to connect with people and has a pair of  bouncing shoes (See the photo) and since she has a broken thumb she convinces Andreas to try them out.

Prayer Meeting

On Friday, I made Italian spaghetti while they went to two nearby towns. Leaving at 11 they arrived back at 2 in the afternoon with many stories of engagement and this made it easy to go out again on Saturday when I went to a coffee shop and shared the gospel with about ten people, Terier helping me by translation. After I drew a portrait, I had everyone asking and talking so from there the conversations began, invitations extended and the gospel shared.

Getting final instructions

The soup kitchen outreach

We also had a FREE Soup table with an invitation with every hot bowl of soup.

Entry 26 / Off to Norway and SBI

October 10, 2010

Ryan Air from Bergamo to Torp

This is the second time to teach at Smyrna Bible Institute, south of Oslo and Drammen, West of Tonsberg and near the village of Holmestran. It is a very beautiful area and the college sits at the top of a knoll. There is everything one needs with dormitories, classrooms, chapel, diningroom and student union.

Twenty degrees cooler than when I left Milan, I was met at the Torp airport by Reidar Gamst, the Headmaster and his brother Terier. An hour later we were unloading and taking things to my room to get ready for an early start the following morning.

After a nice lunch of Caribou (yes, Caribou) and mashed potatoes, I took a nap to catch up on the lost sleep from the night before. By now, Larry is on his way to Canada.

Entry 12 / Norway and London?

The Last Night?

 

Gunnar (left) and Roar (right)

First, I went by tram into Oslo with Roar Halderson where we met up with Gunnar. I spent today (Tuesday) walking about Oslo with my friend Gunnar Andaas of Volda on the west coast. He came up to Oslo to spend a couple of days and meet with me regarding our shared interest in Sri Lanka, New Life Literature.

It was nice to run around with my camera and just click at anything that looked potentially paintable or frameable. It is supposed to be the last night in Norway but it appears that I may be here for longer than I had originally planned. The volcanic ash has moved further south and now hovers over England causing planes coming and coming to be grounded or diverted. Tomorrow at 12:50 I was scheduled to be on my way to Gatwick but this may no longer be the case so I am trying to figure out how to stretch my money, how to re-route myself by plane directly to the United States, hitch a ride with a truck driver going in the direction of London or taking the long way around riding trains, buses and so forth through Copenhagen, Brussels and so forth. Unfortunately, this turns out to double my costs so I am now trying to figure out if my Chase credit card offers any travel disruption benefits but every phone line is busy.

 

I am rather out of luck for the time being. I am also trying to surmise how long I can impose upon my gracious hosts without starting to smell like dead fish. They read my blogs so I am hoping they read this one.

Since I am talking about last nights…

The last night at Smyrna Bible Institute was Sunday past and on that evening we had a rather good crowd with a wonderful time of fellowship. I had preached four nights in a row and taught each morning prior to this for about four hours so all of us had a rather long, ministry filled, weekend. I’ll include a few pictures of the church experience so you might get a feel for who these folks are.

Entry 11 / Norway and England

Unity in Diversity… proof that this is a God thing and not the work of men

I understand this

 Isn’t it strange that I can travel to Norway then to Slovenia, Italy, Charlotte and finally to Canada and you find people who all have the same spiritual DNA? The only things that might be slightly different is how high they raise their hands or whether one person prays at a time or whether everyone prays all at once like the South Koreans do. 

I understand how Roman Catholicism, Islam, or Jehovah’s Witnesses accomplish this sort of thing. They have centralized and standardized their teaching and practice so all of those who belong are compelled to climb inside some sort of intellectual or religious box where they are exposed to nothing but what the various systems approve. They transport their beliefs and practices  from Rome, Mecca or Brooklyn, New York. There is no natural theology or general revelation. Everything must be contrived. 

By contrast, I travel from place to place and I suspect that should I travel further afield, say China or Ghana I would come up with the same results, I would find Christians who turn out to be just like me. It could be that I am wrong-headed or we all are but I am unable to understand how, without the active work of the Holy Spirit (Christ building His church) in peoples lives, this uniformity of belief and experience could ever be accounted for. We know that conformity to the character and mind of Christ is the work of the Spirit “until we all come to the unity – we come to know with all of the saints the height, width, depth…” and on and on. The Holy Spirit is the teacher and guide and He is at work all over the world revealing Jesus, building His church, making clear the Word of God and making ordinary people, without the aid of men or institutions, into evangelists, preachers and theologians. 

This is what I have found here at Smyrna. I have found the same thing I have found in Parma, Italy and Ljubljana, Slovenia. I have found people from cultures so extreme from one another that, if they were not fellow believers, it would be impossible to put them in the same room and have any thing in common at all. But Christ is able to eliminate vast differences in color, disposition, language and more and make from these people groups one person, with one mind, one heart, striving together for the furtherance of the gospel. This can only be the work of God. 

I have come here to Norway first from Canada, then America and finally ten or more nations in southern Europe only to find people just like me here and everywhere else. When I arrived on the campus I was met by people who had never read the same books as I have. They would mention a teacher or preacher and asked if I had ever heard of this person or that person to which question I mostly answered, “No, never heard of them.” But they are, and they think like I do. When I began to explain a supernatural experience they have also been there and can finish my story with their own stories. I say, “God showed me this thing or that thing” and they say, “Me, as well.”  

The Headmaster Reidar Gamst and his wife, Karin though almost twenty years younger understand me completely. When I first met Reidar I said to him, “I know you. I have always known you. When I looked into your face I knew who you were.”  He said the same of me. When I stood up to teach people they heard my voice. They recognized my speech.  They applauded my doctrine. There is one from Brazil, another from Denmark and the rest from cities, small villages, islands and fiords from all over this nation. They come big churches, small churches and different churches but they hear the doctrine the same and say in unison, “Amen.” I challenge any false religious system to describe themselves in a similar way. This can be only the work of God. Out of many, He makes one.

Entry 9 / Norway and England

Karin’s Bakerintsalg

Yep, it’s a real word. I am often a barbarian to these people and they are barbarian’s to me. I understand more of what they are saying when they pray in tongues than I understand when they speak in Norwegian. I am sure that the words are very nice words but a single word can get extremely long and I’m not sure why. Does it ever surprise you how many languages and sounds can be formed from a rather limited number of graphic characters?

For instance, I am sure that the Norwegian word “Bakerintsalg” accomplishes much more than it appears to.

Business as Missions

This the Headmaster’s wife Karin’s idea  of how she might make a little more money for the school and at the same time intersect the unbelievers in the area. Karin only bakes bread and rolls on Fridays. At about noon cars start to arrive in the door yard of The Smyrna Bible Institute and within about three or four hours most of the five kinds of artisan breads are gone to about fifty nearby homes. Julia Frey, are you listening?