I hate cancer. My friend and spiritual father Royce died from cancer; whenever I hear jazz, see a Cracker Barrel, or pass by a KOA, I think of Royce and miss him. Ron, too, died of cancer; I knew his grandkids better than I knew him, but any guy who pulls my car out of a ditch gets kudos from me. My uncle David died of cancer at 54. While I was a youth pastor in Spring Green, “Aunt” Lea and Mark Koller also passed away from cancer; Aunt Lea had lived a long and full life, but Mark was only 51.
And then there are all the survivors, the friends who have lived with and overcome cancer. These are, sadly, fewer on my list.
Today, a friend working with Campus Crusade called Jake and I. His friend Remus was in the hospital watching his three-year-old daughter die from a tumor in her brain. Would we visit them and pray for her healing?
Posted in Bucharest
Tagged cancer, death, faith, faithfulness, healing, lazarus, miracles, prayer, raise the dead, resurrection, sickness
The music of Daniel (and his sister Harvest) Bashta has really been ministering to me lately. I love the passion and energy in the music. It’s almost impossible to sit still while listening; either you want to bow down on your knees or get up and dance. 🙂 And I love how so much of the lyrics are drenched in Scriptural phrases and images if not word-for-word Bible. “Behold the Lamb,” in particular, evokes images of the angelic choruses in the book of Revelation as well as the Lord’s Prayer in the gospels. I love it!
As this song has been a great source of strength to my spirit lately, I wanted to share it with you. Enjoy the chords and lyrics here, then head over to www.danielbashta.com for links to purchase his music. (Sorry for how the chords and words don’t line up correctly. I’m blaming wordpress ’cause the file on my computer is fine.)
This morning, I called my friend Alex Grigorescu to see how things went last night after I left open-air preaching. (I love street preaching, but I had to leave early: “Man of Steel” had just opened in Romania, and it needed me to go watch it.) Anyhow, Alex told me the preaching went well, but then he said, “Listen, brother, I have something to encourage your faith.”
Alex then began to tell me about his trip to the market this morning. On his way to pick up some fish, he saw an old beggar woman hunched over and unable to stand up straight. As he walked by her, Alex felt something in his Spirit. God wanted to do something.
So instead of merely giving her a New Testament or a tract, he asked her, “Crezi ca Iisus este Domnul? Do you believe Jesus is Lord?” “Da. Yes,” came her reply. “Crezi ca Iisus pot sa te vindeca? Do you believe Jesus can heal you?” “Da,” she said again.
My one-year anniversary in Romania was yesterday at 8:20 p.m. I had been looking forward to this date. If not in reality, at least in my mind it’s an important milestone; one whole year in a foreign country learning on the job how to do missions work.
Months ago, I started thinking about what I’d write, figuring I’d have something deep, insightful, and spiritual to share. But I don’t. Partly, this is because the date snuck up on me. Partly, it’s because the thing I feel most certain about is that I’m still learning, still growing, still discovering. And I have a headache now.
Instead of a “year-in-review” (you’ll get something of the sorts in July when I put up my next prayer letter) or something deep (that’ll take a few years to get around to), I’d like to give you just a couple of my observations and reflections.
1. Ninety percent of following Jesus really is about simply not quitting.
2. Ministry is not a microwave but a slow-cooker; it takes a lot longer than you think it ought to.
The real nature of our endeavor didn’t really sink in until ten o’clock yesterday night. Our evening was at that point suddenly interrupted by the furious pounding of angry fists on our door while wild shouts in Romanian echoed in the hallway. Immediately, the three of us men jumped to the door to check the deadbolt and block it from opening. Rita and her kids huddled on the couch. Adrenaline shot through my bloodstream as we waited at the door for what seemed hours, Jake with his eye to the peephole. Finally, he breathed a sigh of relief, saying, “Oh, it’s the neighbors.”
I don’t think we have ever been happier to have our neighbors come pounding on our door at such an hour. Apparently, there was a leaky pipe somewhere in the bloc, and they had taken it upon themselves to discover the culprit. We were all laughing and grateful beyond words, but it took quite some time for the adrenaline to settle back down.
That’s when the magnitude of what we were doing finally hit me. This wasn’t just a fun little evening, this really was a life-and-death scenario.
I’ve never been a huge fan of church buildings. I have most often viewed them as a sometimes necessary waste of resources that could be better spent on helping actual people. I know the early disciples met in the temple, but I don’t see them spending lots of resources on maintaining that temple or building new, bigger, and better ones. Historically, it looks like the concept of church buildings didn’t really take off until after Jesus was long gone.
Here in Romania, I’ve noticed a big tendency among believers to relegate spirituality to the church building itself, where following Jesus is defined as what building you go to and how often. For many I’ve met, the idea of having a spiritual life outside the building–where Jesus is just as present at home or at work or at the club–is just plain foreign.
Add to all this the reality that Bucharest is full of big empty church buildings–whether Orthodox, Baptist, or Pentecostal–while people suffer for lack of clean water and warm clothes. Just about every day I see a priest or two standing at Unirii with signs begging for donations to construct the new multi-million-dollar church building/hotel/cinema/mall as if we needed another. (Not to mention the nearly $100 million dollars of taxpayer money that’s allocated for priests’ salaries while roads fall apart and dogs run rampant.) All this focus of the church on the transient is, frankly, really distasteful…
But, with all that said…
Posted in Bucharest
Tagged children, church building, church-plant, evangelism, gypsies, gypsy, home church, letter, open-air, poverty, prayer, prayer letter, preaching, testimonies