My brain is too small to assimilate all that I saw and heard in two weeks in Europe…
I am sitting on the porch of a beautiful house in the woods of central Pennsylvania. Kathy and I are blessed to have a week’s vacation to recover from my recent trip to Europe and to help prepare us for a busy fall. Last week I was encountering spiritual darkness and needy people on another continent. This week I look out at trees and bear and deer as they wander from their mysterious lairs to the corncrib across the pond beyond the deck. I hear bullfrogs conversing. The weather is perfect.
For a second, it’s easy to forget how complex and messed up this world is, to ignore memories of the scenes, people, and circumstances we were surrounded with in Europe. The quaint German villages and castles and the tidy order of Deutschland seem remote. The impoverished Roma (gypsy) villages with their myriad of seemingly insoluble problems are far away. Will the images and lessons of this recent trip to Europe vanish from my fragile memory when I go down to the river today to skip rocks or when we make s’mores around the fire pit this evening?
After visiting four countries and hearing numerous languages spoken and making some wonderful friends, it’s back to the life of a missions mobilizer. My calling is to be passionate for the Great Commission. My task is to provoke everyone in my world to be strategically involved in God’s mission. My venue is my home, my family, my neighborhood, and the American church.
It’s the images of people I encountered on this trip that linger most in my memory. I picture my sister and her husband in Germany. They might say something like this to us: Sure it’s hard to uproot your family, move to another continent, learn a new language, send your children to new schools in a new culture, start from the beginning in making new friends while trying to maintain old relationships across the ocean, and live on wildly fluctuating income. But this is where we’re supposed to be and this is what we’re supposed to be doing, and we’re sure of that! So God is able to provide whatever we are lacking and make up for the things we have lost to obey His call. Please pray for us!
I can see a Roma boy living in a village in Croatia. He might say to us: I’ve never been to America. I hear you have clean water, toilets in the house, screens in the windows to keep flies out, plenty of food, and nice clothes, I hear your houses are full of books, and everybody can read. If you would visit my village, you would see that we have none of those things. But we have UNA clubs every week where we are learning about Jesus. We have Bob and Nancy Hitching and their friends who have come from far away to bring the Kingdom of God to our village. Please pray for us that the Good News about Jesus that we are learning in UNA club will open our hearts and change our families and our villages!
God, rescue me from a poor memory. Penetrate my calloused mind to recall the things that you have allowed me to see. Deliver me from the forgetfulness that makes it easy to live a convenient, comfortable, affluent, self-absorbed American way of life. Break my heart with the things that break your heart.