Let me begin by telling you how incredibly grateful I am for each of you and the opportunity the Lord has given me to be here. It would not be possible if it were not for the Lord moving through your love, prayers and support. I pray that you might know how important of a role you play in all of this. What a joy that we get to be a part of it together via the technology that God has allowed man to invent. Truly this is what it means to be the church. I bear the sentiment of the apostle Paul, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you”, Philippians 1:3.
Wednesday, March 28th – Last Day in Croatia
One of the greatest challenges I am facing is finding the time in the midst of all that is going on, to get the regular things that need to get done, done (i.e. posting my daily readings on the blog, weekly devotional, blog on the trip). I am finding that the jet lag and time difference helps. No matter how I try to sleep later than 3:00 or 4:00 AM, it just doesn’t happen and then in the afternoon I begin to get pretty drowsy. However, all that said, I am getting into the routine and learning not to fight the ‘jet lag’ but simply go with it.
There are so many things happening on this trip and the Lord continues to answer our prayers and set the tone for what He is doing. It is all very exciting! There is so much I want to tell you all, and don’t really know where to begin. Our last day in Croatia was spent with helping Ben and Emily decide what options they had before them and how to proceed. After a walk through the city and looking at a couple more sights, to include a walk along one of the only sandy beaches in Split, we went to lunch and spent a couple of hours just talking.
As it turns out, the timing for coming could not have been better. The changes in Ben and Emily’s ministry was completely unexpected, but clearly the Lord is directing their paths and we are grateful that the Lord is using us in the process.
We concluded our day with a great Croation dinner of fish (mackerel) and potatoes. Emily definitely takes after her mother, Rene Bethune.
Thursday, March 29th – Travel Day to and Arrival in Salzburg, Austria
One of the key players in the ministry here in Croatia is Damir, who has pastored one of the largest protestant churches in Croatia, Calvary Chapel Chocavetz. It is a church of about 200 people which is large for a protestant church in Croatia. Calvary Chapel Philadelphia has supported them over the years and since Ben came out of that church, Damir has really been a support and encouragement to Ben and Emily. He is encouraging them to move to Chocavetz to learn the language and culture and how to establish a ministry in Croatia. They are praying about that, but from what I can tell that would be a very good option. Ben and Emily were supposed to go to Zagreb with us, so we could meet Damir, but Ben was not feeling well through the night (coming down with a cold or something) so they weren’t able to go.
As Brad and I were driving to the airport in Zagreb and considering all the Lord had shown us in Croatia, I was moved by the Holy Spirit to read aloud through all of Paul’s missionary journeys in order that we might get a better understanding of our role in Croatia and Salzburg and missions in general. It was awesome to read through Acts knowing that we were very near to many of the places that Paul was visiting and establishing churches.
As I was reading, I felt prompted to make sure the meeting happened with Damir. I was waiting for a call from Ben to find out if it was still on. When he finally called, he told us that Damir wasn’t going to come but that I could call him. The phone call was the icing on the cake for our trip to Croatia. I was able to hear a national’s heart on reaching the lost in Croatia, as well as his perspective on American’s coming over to plant churches in his country. Brad and I were so encouraged that he confirmed what it is that we were feeling, which is the usual ‘Americans know everything’ mentality. I believe the Lord could be opening up some real opportunities for us to be involved in missions in Croatia in the not too distant future.
From the moment we arrived in Salzburg, we definitely knew that we were no longer in Croatia. The countryside is spectacular and the people are gracious and friendly. After a dinner in a very old restaurant and a meal of the native dishes of goulash and wienerschnitzel, we were picked up by Ivan Ibbotson, the pastor of Calvary Chapel Salzburg for their evening study.
It was a home fellowship type of study, the worship was very sweet. I loved the contrast of walking in the unfamiliar streets, looking for a restaurant and listening to worship in German. What a comfort it was, because of the reality that the Lord inhabits the praises of His people. They have a great group of people and I am getting excited to be able to teach at the retreat which begins on Friday. Please pray for me that the Holy Spirit will direct my thoughts and words. There is so much on my heart on the subject of leadership, but I want to make sure it is what the Lord has for the people here.
This morning (Friday here) we will meet with Ivan and I’m really looking forward to hearing all about what the Lord is doing here and how it is we can bless an encourage them. As we were reading through Acts, one of many verses that really stood out to me was Acts 18:23, “After he had spent time there, he departed and went over the region of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples.” It is our prayer that we will be able to effectively do this very same thing in the lives of the saints here.
God bless you all…thanks again for your prayers. They are accomplishing much!
P.S. Be sure and check out the slide show for a lot photos!