What a blessed week we had at what is known in the Calvary Chapel circles as “The Castle” located in Millstatt, Austria. Located about an hour’s drive from Klagenfurt, it is the host and site of an annual missions conference of which a few hundred missionaries from throughout Europe participate. Our European missionaries participate in the conference each year and this summer Mark & Rene Bethune from our home church, The Chapel Church will be attending with their son-in-law and daughter, Ben & Emily Spector as well as Emily’s little sister Jen.
Jenny and I arrived on Sunday afternoon where I had the opportunity to begin a series of five studies on “The Church”. These teachings from Scripture included how the church got started; what the church is; church membership; body life as God intended it to be; maintaining the integrity of the church; and finally the mission of the church. The church is one of my favorite subjects in the world. It was a tremendous blessing to be able to share God’s heart for His church with believers from four different Calvary Chapels in Austria. They were so receptive and very eager to learn. Each session began with worship followed by the teaching. Here is a video of the worship led by some close friends of ours Rene & Sabrina Podesser. No matter what language it is, when worship is done in the spirit of humility and surrender to Jesus, it moves a person’s heart. Rene is in a band (Solar Jet) with three other friends of ours whom we have gotten to know over the years. They are a talented group of guys. An added bonus was previewing Rene & Sabrina’s new music video, “Guten Morgen!” (Good Morning). Check it out…it is really catchy.
The Castle has a great little cafe where you can get coffee, snacks, and ice cream. I love buying people stuff in the cafe and told the group that it seems like the money isn’t even real. I also sold them that I am sure I will find out how real it is when I get home and get my Visa bill. The Castle is a wonderful place for the kids to run around and hang out with each other. It is so encouraging seeing the missionary kids play with each other. They have so much in common. I love this video of Caleb enjoying an ice cream bar. You will see that he is really into it! I love his focus and intensity.
One of the great things about coming to this conference is that over the past three years we have developed a number of relationships with the people at The Chapel Salzburg as well as some of the employees of the Castle. One of those is Becky Lindsay, Alex Lindsay’s sister. We really fell in love with her on our first trip here and we picked up right were we left off. It is really like coming home to old friends. There is nothing quite like the the church, the body of Christ. Fellowship among believers is one of the blessed benefits of being a Christian.
The more I visit Europe, the more I appreciate it for so many reasons. One of those reasons is the close proximity to other countries. One afternoon, a small group of us decided to head to Italy for the day. It was a small town named Tarvisio and their pizza was awesome! When you look at a map of Europe, you can see how easy it is to visit several countries in one day. Hearing languages of all kinds from numerous countries is simply what you come to accept here as quite commonplace.
It was a great week and I was particularly encouraged by the response to the week of teachings. God is so good that in coming to minister to these precious saints in Austria, I was greatly ministered to. I will return home with a renewed love for our church, for how precious it is to Jesus and how much He loves it, and to keep the simplicity of Him central in all that we do.