July 29. On vacation in the deep woods of central Pennsylvania. Near Morris, PA
Mike, Josh, and I arrived home Sunday evening from our trip to Eastern Europe. I have four immediate observations on those two amazing weeks…
1. There still exists in the western world (Eastern Europe, in particular) people (specifically the Roma – gypsies) who are simply untouched by the unspoiled innocence of the Gospel. They are beyond the thoughts of much of the world, despised and avoided because they have a reputation for dishonesty, and are dirty, impoverished, illiterate, and distrusted. There also remains in more modern, affluent countries (like Germany) those who are not despised but whose spiritual darkness is equally desperate and unpenetrated.
2. Believers who live near these Roma peoples are generally unmoved by the spiritual darkness and physical deprivation that engulfs their villages. In Bible-believing churches in eastern Europe, to invite a Roma to one’s church means everyone else would leave and go elsewhere. In short, it appears that the reaching of the Roma for Jesus will require an imaginative movement of visionary and passionate missionaries who are willing to make joyful sacrifices to see light penetrate darkness. In Germany, on the other hand, the post-Christian environment is enveloped in a blindness that can only be breached through intercessory prayer and sacrificial building of intentional relationships.
3. There are some incredible people expending every ounce of energy and every resource at their disposal to go to difficult places to spread the Gospel because they have a passion for Jesus and a love for people. These soldiers of the faith are Americans, Croats, Serbs, Hungarian, Roma believers, and a host of other nationalities. They speak English (both American and British!), Croatian, German, Hungarian, Roma dialects, and other miscellaneous languages. The Apostle Paul’s multi-ethnic, multi-linguistic world and the team he assembled has nothing on these guys! (Like Paul, one has even been imprisoned for 3 months in a Turkish prison for preaching the Gospel.) These are the heroes, the role models, the ones we should be training our children to admire and emulate.
4. These frontline soldiers of the faith have enormous financial, physical, and spiritual needs that those more fortunate and resourced (like me) can help to meet through generous giving and intercessory prayer. “Outsiders” (like us in America) are strategically positioned with the needed supplies required for the waging of battle in these distant places.
Grateful that so many gave so generously that Mike and Josh and I could have this extraordinary opportunity to have our eyes opened in new ways. Thank you!