"For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside."
Wow. I am in awe of God's faithfulness.
Kim and I made is to Thessaloniki without any hitch. Tommie (the pastor), Annika (one of the missionary worship leaders), and Jen (one of the Dwelling Place missionaries) were there to pick us up from the airport right on time.
They drove us straight to their little 'missionary community' in the town of Perea; which can't be more than 15 minutes from the airport. Tommie, Annika, and the DP missionaries (Amy, Jen, and Kim) all have separate apartments within close walking distance of each other in this little town.
While Kim got settled in at her place, Tommie took me for hot chocolate at Joy Bar - a little seaside restaurant just down the street. It was a good time to sit, relax, and talk for a bit before heading to church in downtown Thessaloniki at 7:00pm.
It was great to see many of the familiar faces that I had met during my visit with the interns in 2008 - Eva and Costas, Argy and Peggy, Dimitra, and Stravoula; as well as, many new faces. I was encouraged at how much more confident they were in their faith and identities in the Lord. They were noticeably more confident as they functioned with courage and purpose in their roles, serving within the body.
At first, I found it difficult to press-in and connect with the Lord during worship. The songs were familiar worship songs; however, when everyone is singing in Greek, it can be a little difficult to worship with my mind, singing in English. So, I stopped trying to do that for a bit and decided to sing in the Spirit. I don't remember exactly what happened... I believe a slightly potent mixture of humility, spontaneous praise, declaration, and adoration of the person of Jesus, released just a touch of His presence that comforted my heart in such a powerful way. What an unfathomable gift, that God would give us Himself, to live within us and walk among us, so that no matter where on earth we might be, Christiansburg, Virginia or Thessaloniki, Greece - He is there.
Dimitri, a guest speaker and pastor from the island of Thassos, shared an encouraging, insightful word on Elijah's character, as man with a nature like ours, full of weakness; however, zealous in his obedience to the word of the Lord, in the midst of intensely oppressive circumstances. I really appreciated Dimitri's own honesty and candidness about his difficulties this year, as the apostle Paul unreservedly admitted to being, "afflicted on every side: conflicts without, fears within." It releases such a burden from those that look up to people in leadership when they realize that individuals and families in 'ministry' are not without their own real struggles.
I was reminded tonight that there is nothing better than Jesus and being in the presence of God. He is beautiful and glorious, and He's what this life is all about. Every relationship and every purpose of God comes together when you have Him. Every need is met. Apart from Him we can do nothing, but in Him, all things hold together and we bear much fruit.
I'm looking forward to meeting with Tommie and the rest of the missionaries tomorrow for a time of strategy, instruction, vision-casting, etc.
I'm so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of what God is doing here. Thank you so much for your continued prayer and support.
I wish you Jesus.