I arrived in Salzburg on Thursday evening after a three hour train ride. I had huge aspirations to get much done during that time, but unfortunately my ‘jet lagged body’ was telling me to sleep so I was obedient and did just that, for a couple of hours at least.
The trains being right on schedule, meant that Ivan was at the platform ready to take me to their home. Bless their little girls, who graciously gave up their room for me. It was so sweet of them.
It was right off to bed, knowing that it would be a long few days of ministry.
My Friday morning started with a great walk, about a half hour or so into the old city of Salzburg. Such an amazing city! I apologize for the lack of photos. Without Jenny with me, I tend to just snap a few here and there…and then selfishly take in the beauty in the moment.
This is my 5th time to Salzburg and visiting the brothers and sisters at The Chapel:Salzburg. The real advantage of these visits over the past four years, has been making many friendships. You can see some of those in the slide show at the bottom of the page. I found myself just marveling at the goodness of God, as I was meeting old friends, and new friends whom Pastor Ivan and I had talked about in previous years over the phone. What a joy to see the maturity of these dear saints and how much they love Jesus. I cannot help but think about what the apostle John said in his epistle. I am filled with great joy every time I come and see their love for the Lord growing stronger with each passing year.
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. (3 John 4)
On Friday I met with a number of the leaders of The Chapel to include some new members of the ministry leadership team. One of the newest members of the team is Bec Klar (formerly Bec Lindsay…Alex’s sister). She is recently married to Ingo and they are expecting their first child. Pastor Alex and one of his ministry leaders (Sean) drove up from Klagenfurt and joined us for the weekend.
We had a great time searching the Scriptures about the role of the church and our call to preaching the Gospel and making disciples. These men and women are so hungry for the word and eager to make a difference in Salzburg. I am always encouraged by their zeal for Christ and humbled that God would somehow use me to minister to them…especially because each time I come away more encouraged than anyone. What a great stirring in my heart their is for preaching the Gospel to the lost. I never want it to go away!
We ended our time around 9:30 PM on Friday and needless to say it was off to bed, knowing that we would be starting at 10:00 AM on Saturday morning.
On Saturday,I met with the Eldership of both churches, along with some potential pastor-elders in the future. We spent the morning sharing our testimonies about how we ended up in the churches we are currently serving in, and sharing some of our thoughts on leadership. It was a great time of just hearing one another’s hearts and a confirmation of what a healthy form of church government a “plurality of elders” is. Over the years I have heard far too many heartaches of pastors burning out and flocks being disillusioned as they see the toll that ministry can take on a senior or lead pastor.
We spent the afternoon reviewing our (The Chapel Church) Eldership Candidacy Program and sharing the things that we have learned as a church, about leadership. They were very interested and had such great input with many questions about how to build an infrastructure in leadership that best serves the church body. What a blessed time it was. One of the highlights of the day was Brother Ho, one of the church members, and his wife, So Yong, who made us an amazing Korean meal. What great servants they are!
We wrapped things up around 4:30…and Ivan had the great idea to head up to Gaisberg, a mountain that overlooks all of Salzburg and the surrounding area. Needless to say it was spectacular, especially the view of the Austrian Alps. I loved hearing the stories of Ivan and his brothers who grew up in Salzburg as their parents were missionaries. In fact they are still here.
Ivan told us about the day that Kurt, his older brother and pastor of The Chapel:Leipzig (Germany) rode his bike down the mountain and by the grace of God didn’t get killed. He also pointed out the tall poles he had climbed in order to attach a windsock for someone he worked for as a lad of 14 years old. Gerald, quite the accomplished paraglider, showed him how to paraglide. He told me his mother would have killed him had she known that he was paragliding off the mountain.
Ivan and Michelle have four of the sweetest daughters and it has been great just being able to hang out in their home. They have made me feel so welcome. Nollie, their oldest, is quite the little pianist. Check out this song, it is so sweet and so soothing. It is appropriately entitled “Sanfte Wellen” (Gentle Waves). It really is a beautiful song. After a Kabob (similar to a gyro sandwich) for dinner…it was off to bed knowing we would have another full day tomorrow.
The view from the sanctuary of the church is really quite beautiful. For years the church met in a facility that they could only use on Sundays, and through their faithfulness over the years to trust God, He came through…doesn’t he always? It really is a great facility with much potential. The church is really growing and it was a pleasure to be able to teach. It was a great Sunday service, sweet worship, and so many new people I got to meet with everyone being so friendly and encouraging.
Everyone was off to various places for lunch afterwards, for us is was a Greek restaurant (formerly a Wienerschnitzel restaurant). Fortunately I kept the napkin on the table, and didn’t eat it, one napkin per trip is more than enough!
This church loves to hang out (its called fellowship and I think it is in the Bible) and it is so sweet. The more I hang out with them, the more I fall in love with them. We had a great time! Ivan’s oldest was able to join us and before we knew it, our meal was over and it was back to church. Ivan had announced a rather spontaneous time of worship with a short teaching for later that evening. It was a good turnout, great worship, and I shared on the distractions that can keep us from sitting at the feet of Jesus, being still and knowing God. I was really blessed and strengthened in the Lord. God is so good!
Once home…it was off to bed. A great and full day of ministry and basking in the goodness of the Lord. It is always remarkable to me how God can bring people from all cultures, all ages, a variety of sinful backgrounds…regenerate their souls and make us one people…who love one another…because we love Jesus. It doesn’t get any better than that…just a glimpse of what heaven will be like.
Tomorrow (Tuesday) Ivan, Alex and I will drive to Munich, Germany (about two hours away) and fly to Edinburgh, Scotland for a time of fellowship, more discussion about the ministry and Jesus, meeting with my former church history professor, and Derek Prime.
Please pray for Alex has he has come down with some sort of sickness which could jeopardize him coming with us. We are praying that the Lord will heal him so that he can join us.
So until next time…Ciao!
P.S. They actually say that a lot here in Austria!
You can check out some additional pictures here…