Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Dawn of the Second Generation

In 1989 Communism collapsed in Bulgaria.  Shortly there after, missionaries from several organizations came to the country.  This first generation did a lot of great things.  They told people about Jesus and talked about ideas and concepts that were forbidden for decades.

27 years have passed since then, and most of that generation have left Eastern Europe.  They have either retired to America, or moved on to another job.  There are still a few of them left, and I value them greatly.  These are the spiritual fathers and mothers to people like my wife who first learned of life with Jesus through them, and they are big brothers and sisters to people like me.

A while back, a dear friend of mine was lamenting at the loss of this older generation.  She talked about how they inspired us and spurred us on as we (the second generation) came to Eastern Europe.  I thought deeply about her words, and then this thought hit me.  They are gone.  That makes us the older generation.

Now, in the words of Denis from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, “I’m 37.  I’m not old.”  I mean, yes I do have the occasional stiffness that comes with being over 30, but I have plans to summit a mountain with some friends this weekend.  I’m far from being an old man.

Yet, I have come to realize that it is time for us to be spiritual big brothers and sisters.  It is time for us to spur others on.  We have been given a gift, and we are to pass it on.

Younger ministry workers are coming to Bulgaria on a regular basis.  We have an opportunity to invest in them, and I love doing so.

In the same way, there are many potential national leaders.  They need spiritual development.  We can mentor them and help them grow to their full potential.

But we can’t do it alone.

I am looking for people to join us and become the second generation for Eastern Europe.

Will you join us?

Eight members of the second generation

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

No Mud For Me, Thanks!

People often wonder why I left America to live in Bulgaria.  This question has been raised on both sides of the ocean.  Why would I move to Bulgaria when all of the comforts of America were available to me?

First of all, it's not like Bulgaria is a terribly uncomfortable place.  I like it here.  No, that’s inaccurate.  I love it here.  I love the people, I love the land, I love the history, and I love the beauty.  It’s a great place to live.  I can hardly count myself among the martyrs while being in such a wonderful country.

That being said, America is an amazing place.  Just compare America with the kinds of trouble that exist around the world today.  In the middle-east people flee for their lives as a terrorist group wages an unspeakable war.  In Eastern Europe a tyrant carves up Ukraine.  In Western Europe refugees flood in from war torn countries by the millions while terrorist set off bombs to pointlessly kill people because they don’t approve of their culture.  In North Korea people starve while their fat little dictator builds a failed nuclear program.

Health concerns around the globe continue to be a major problem.  Basic sanitation eludes much of the world’s population.  I have heard that over a billion people still have to go outside to use the toilet.

Meanwhile, in America the big conflict today seems to be whether or not a man who feels like a woman can use the women’s bathroom, and the biggest health concern is that people have too much food.  We Americans sometimes forget how good we have it.

So why would I leave?  Why would I raise a family in a different part of the world?  Why would I give up the comforts of America?  Am I a fool who follows God’s will because I’m too stupid to understand the value of pleasure?  Am I really so easily pleased that I don’t care to live in the greatest country on earth?

Actually I am not easily pleased.  That’s why I followed God’s calling to move to Bulgaria, and why I will continue to follow His calling no matter where He sends me.

C. S. Lewis said it best:

It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

All of the simple pleasures mentioned are things I enjoy.  But I will not be a satisfied ignorant child who spends his life making mud pies while missing something so much better.

I love serving God.  I love what it does in me and to those around me, and I will continue to do it as long as I can.  There is nothing that compares with it.

No mud for me thanks.  Who's up for the beach?