Yesterday, Tommie and I played tennis at a park not far from our house. It felt very good to exercise and have fun doing something I enjoy. After sharing this with Tommie, he agreed and said that he didn't subscribe to a 'martyr mentality' in missions. 'You should do things you enjoy,' he said. This is a healthy reminder for someone like me. This time spent playing tennis also happened to be a bit of a turning point for me. I was reminded that from now on, it has to be His words that define me. Duh, right? Strange how subtly I can drift from that. 'Sanctify them in truth; Your word is truth' - John 17:17.
|Kim, Danielle (Belgrade), and I|
I forgot to mention my time in Skopje last week. Let's just say that spending time, not only with famliar faces, but with true friends, was a welcome gift. It was so much fun - so peaceful and relaxing - to just sit in Bethany's home and just... be ... with one another. There were many times where conversation, prayer, games, or worship would end and we would just sit in silence, in the peace of God with each other. It was really refreshing. It was sad to leave Jon, Danielle, and Bethany because I've come to love them so much, but it was clear that we had been renewed during that time for a purpose. I look forward to seeing them all again soon.
|Jen, Bethany (Macedonia), and John (Belgrade)|
|Old Stone Bridge over the river Vardar in Skopje, Macedonia|
To be honest, Skopje was incredibly intimidating to me at first. It felt entirely different from Thessaloniki, although I came to feel much more comfortable after being there for a day or so. I traveled with Bethany, Jen, and John to a relatively small town outside the city, called Veles. I met Ane and his family, one of the leaders in a 'Glasnost' church plant from Skopje. Ane, a skilled martial artist with a violent history before coming to know the Lord, now helps disciple young people in a town where the most prolific work is trafficking hard drugs. Despite the apparent darkness, it's clear God is moving in the hearts of people there. You could see hope and the light of God on the face of a woman in their fellowship who is conquering brain cancer. Jesus prevails, praise God.
|Stadium in Veles, Macedonia|
I feel more and more grounded as time passes here. Thank the Lord, I believe He is really knitting our body together here as one soul, in Him. Fellowship is a beautiful thing that I am really grateful for. I am most thankful for the peace that He is solidifying within me.
Tommie, the girls, and I, met up with Femi, a member of our church, who is finishing his doctorate at the university. He gave us a brief tour of the campus, as we observed and surveyed the landscape. Let me tell you, American college students, be grateful for the facilities that you enjoy. All college campuses are not created equal. A history of student protests, at times violent, has led to legislation that prohibits police from entering the campus. Drug abuse and anarchism leave a distinct impression. We are praying that the Lord will apprehend those wild at heart to be radical for Jesus and His kingdom.
As I was walking on campus, I felt overwhelmed at times, thinking, 'How in the world are we going to impact the people on this campus?' I was reminded that it is by faith, we understand the worlds were made; therefore, anything we do on that campus must be by faith in Him and His working. We prayed for a few minutes, left Femi to his obligations, and went on our way into the city.
|Starbucks near the church of Panagias Dexias in Kamara, Thessaloniki|
I stopped to withdraw money from a particularly hungry ATM that decided my debit card tasted really good. Upon turning around and informing the rest of my party that my card had been consumed, a young Cretian student named Philip, waiting in line behind me, testified to the fate of my card and offered some information. This brief commentary lead to an introduction that turned into a meeting for coffee with his friend and the rest of our crew later that evening. Coffee went well and we agreed to meet again for a meal sometime in the future. I hope we all gain another friend.
|Roman arch of Galerius in Kamara, Thessaloniki|
Tommie read Philippians 1:12 this morning, 'Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel,' and prayed that we would have this attitude also. It was so cool to see the Lord's hand at work, immediately giving us such a divine appointment with two young university students - something that has been prayed for continually - that we would probably have never met, had my card not been eaten and destroyed. 'How are we going to make an impact on the people on this campus?' Pray and watch Him work.
He reminded me of His own jealous love for me when He saved me on a college campus, some five years ago. He sent a persistent 'Andrew' to my 'Peter,' leading me to Jesus (John 1:42). Now I have the opportunity to be an Andrew to, hopefully many, 'Peters.' I imagined Peter meeting Jesus for the first time. Peter knew nothing about Jesus, but Jesus knew everything about Peter. Jesus chose him and that's all that mattered. If Peter only knew the work that God would do in His life.
'Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.' - 1 Thess. 5:24
Thank you for your continued prayer and support. Your prayers are making a powerful impact - please continue in them!
- Pray for Daki, that the peace of God would guard her heart and mind in Christ Jesus, and that she would be completely healed from cancer.
- Pray for Philip and his friend Satiris, that the will of God would be done in their lives.
- Pray that our body would continue to be knit together in the love and grace of God, and that the fellowship of our faith would become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in us for Christ's sake.
Thank you for your grace and mercy as I learn how to manage my time here and communicate effectively. I look forward to hearing from you! Let me know how you are doing!
In His love,