Wood Shavings

Here is a story of travels in Europe, sometimes, through our daughter.  Wow, how much to share?  I will go with the “short” version, really, this is the short version.

She left a former Soviet Union country, in Europe, but not a full EU member.  I am withholding the country name for security reasons.  This country still requires each person to register where they travel, by where they stay each night.  Well, some of the hotels that she stayed at did not register her per the law.  But Hannah found out she was not being registered near the end of her six weeks.  The law stated she could be fined or even be detained when leaving the country.

When she arrived at the airport to leave she went with peace from the Lord.  But at the security check her bag was unpacked in every detail.  They scanned her stuff many times, but finally approved her items.  Next was passport control, where the problem could be noticed.  She approached the controllers and one of them took her papers.  The second proceeded to strike up a cordial conversation.  She was not sure if she was being interrogated or if it was just a curious controller surprised she is an American.  In the end it was a curious person and God answered our prayers and all was well.  She attributes the lack of real problems to God’s grace and our prayers.

Related to this situation is a meeting I had this week.  A new friend who is attending the new church grew up in Wroclaw.  But before he graduated from a local university he emigrated to New Zealand.  For the last 30 years he has been away from Poland.  He is on a sabbatical and has brought his family to experience his motherland.  I asked him what he thinks of Poland now?  He said it is almost literally a different country.

These stories reflect the amazing changes that are still taking place in the former Soviet Union countries of central Europe.  Not all the changes are good, but freedom has brought many good things.  One of the good ones is the opportunity to reintroduce the Gospel.  Please pray for a true spiritual revival in Europe.

One of the ways we are seeking to share the Gospel again in Poland is through English.  Next week the Wroclaw Language School, started in 1989, is conducting an English day camp for high school students.  The day camp idea is to provide much of the “camp” experience wile letting everyone sleep in their own beds.  The theme for the week is music.  We will use the theme to teach formal lessons such as grammar and vocabulary.  But there will also be competitions, games, food, and a lot of fun.  Every day we will also look at how God wants to be involved in each of our lives.  Please pray that each student grows in their English, but even more so that they grow spiritually.

Thanks for praying.

Wood Shavings

We had a great weekend.  Saturday three young men (pre-teen) and I met for fun and to start a youth group.  We rode our bikes over 12 miles, did some routine maintenance on them, and talked about spiritual things together.  Pray that we will be able to work out meeting next week before two of the boys return to the states for part of the summer.  Then soon after the third one will be in the states for the whole summer.

Sunday the InterNational Church of Wroclaw (INCW) had our first ever picnic.  Ok, so nearly everything we do is a first ever.  Here are a few pictures of our time together.  It was a lot of fun and especially encouraging as a pastor to see relationships developing.  After eating, most people just kept talking, especially the girls (I know it is not PC to stereotype, hahahha).  Some of us grabbed frisbees, soccer balls, footballs and other stuff to sweat together.  God blessed us with a wonderful time including weather. picnic1 picnic2

At the picnic we started an ominous tradition – saying goodbye.  One of our attendees is returning to the states for six months.  Our church will be saying goodbye often.  Summer will mean lots of traveling for our attendees.  Pray they have safe travels.  Pray also for the INCW to continue to grow spiritually as we seek to be more like Jesus as His disciples.  This week we are studying a challenging text, download the worksheet if you want to join us.  June16 WSG

Pray for the Wroclaw Language School as they wrap up their school year this week.  All are looking forward to a summer break.  Well, until the first week of July when we will conduct an English day camp.  Pray that all the classes end well and for the students to be encouraged by good progress in English.

It seems like so much has been going on that no long-term planning is getting done.  Please pray for wisdom as I work on various projects for later this year and the next few years.  A mission team is forming for next summer, let me know if you are interest in joining.  A youth group is also praying about coming next year.  Please let me know, leave a comment below, if God has put on your heart some way you feel led to join us in ministry?

Much of the planning I need to do is related to the INCW.  A goal of mine is to keep things simple.  But regularly I am confronted with new questions such as do we have a bank account and how are we going to …  Please be praying with me for wisdom as I seek God’s perfect will.

God has put interns on my heart as a way to see young believers grow as Jesus’ disciples.  This is a huge blessing and a significant challenge.  The blessings are too many to list, but here are a few: lots of new ministry opportunities, youthful energy, and spiritual growth for all.  The challenges come in the form of: they need a bed, food, cell phones, internet, and …  Denise and I need your prayers for the 100s of details we need Him to bring together.

I will end with asking you to pray for our daughter.  She is moving toward her last week of a six-week internship.  I can’t wait to spend time debriefing with her.  Over skype we have been able to hear from her in general, she is doing well.  This week has been especially challenging.  Pray she will be filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit each and every day.

Thanks for praying.

Wood Shavings

I want to say a big – THANKS – to all of you Southern Baptists.  We gathered a third highest Lottie Moon Christmas Offering in history!  The goal for the offering was not attained, but we praise God all the same for His provision through faithful giving.

This has been a great week or so of meetings for me.  Saturday I helped a great friend fix his bicycle, and then we chatted for a while about our wonderful Heavenly Father.  That evening Denise’s students came over to practice English while making dinner.  Sunday morning as the InterNational Church of Wroclaw was not a big group, but one of top quality.  Monday I met with a Physics doctoral student, we meet weekly for him to practice English and he is an active Catholic so we always chat about spiritual things.  Tuesday I helped a teacher friend by speaking with her students in two classes then basketball in the evening.  Today rode bikes with two guys, then led a Bible study, then lunch with my lovely wife, then met with another guy needing to practice English for an upcoming interview.  Tomorrow three more meetings, and Friday two more.  Oh, Saturday our first pre-teen youth meeting for the InterNational Church, then Sunday.  I love this kind of busy.  Please pray for God’s strength and wisdom with each meeting.

The school year is wrapping up this month, please be praying for students and teachers.  At the Wroclaw Language School (WLS) they will conclude classes next week.  So for the last few weeks they have been doing testing, preparing grades, and agonizing over students who are not doing so well.  Graduating high school students all over Poland are feeling after exam anxiety.  For months they prepared for their huge final exam, now they wait for their results.  If they do well they will have the pick of the best universities, do poorly and hope for the best.  Pray especially for the end of year process at WLS.  Also be praying for the summer camp coming up the first week of July.

We have received great reports from Hannah and her summer project.  This week she is focusing on an unreached ethnic people group.  The people group is engaged, meaning there are believers intentionally focused on sharing the Gospel with this group.  But they are unreached as there are less than 2% who have ever been Christians.  To our knowledge there may be as few as 2, Denise and I were able to meet one last year here in Poland.  Pray for this team that Hannah is serving with as they do survey work this week.

I will close with asking you to pray for the InterNational Church.  God continues to do amazing things in the life of this young church.  Please pray for the first meeting of a group of pre-teen youth boys and myself.  I am excited with the prospecte of working with this group.  Pray especially for our fellowship picnic this coming Sunday after church.  Please intercede for us that it will be a fabulous bonding event and worship in every way of our Heavenly Father.June9 WSG

Wood Shavings

Wow, it feels great to be back writing the Wood Shavings.  I am learning to love to write more all the time.  I hope this enjoyment turns into quality writing as well as quantity.  Today I spent an extra 30 min. of devotional time writing about Repentance.  What an amazing and critical aspect of Biblical Truth.  One of the most powerful details I believe the Lord put on my heart is that it is less about a single event or action as it is a process.  Please don’t get me wrong, it is an action, but so much more.  For example, the verb Jesus used in Matthew 4:17 is “repent”.  The Greek word Jesus used has so much depth of meaning.  It is a verb that conveys an action that has a beginning point, but no ending.  It is to become habitual, something we do continually, our lifestyle.  The verb is also a command.  The verb also makes it clear that it is something we must do.  What is also interesting about this action’ meaining is that it is conveys the need to – return (to God).

Repentance is turning/rejecting our own will and way (sin) continually to return to the originally designed path to God.

I would love to hear feedback, especially if I am off in my understanding.  Add a note below and I will respond.

The last month has been a blur.  We have been moving, had houseguests, a mission team, a short retreat, new church plant to lead, and big changes coming that need preparations.  The end of August until December we will have four college students serving with us as interns.  A new long-term team member will join the girls in October, he will be here for about three years.  This means finding apartments, various preparations, and lots of other planning.  Please pray for wisdom as we look forward to these new team members.

I think in a few months we may even have all the boxes unpacked in the apartment.  We are down to only a few major piles of boxes.  This leaves out the places where the stuff that was taken out of the boxes was just thrown in and needs arranging.  What is wonderful is that we already feel at home.  But I am still learning the new transportation options, trams and busses.

We had an awesome experience this past weekend.  A team of 10 students and leaders came to survey how their university may be able to partner with us more in the future.  They met with the youth from 1st Baptist Church on Saturday for fun, food, and a devotional.  Then Sunday the team sponsored a pizza feed for students of the Wroclaw Language School, the ministry of 1st Baptist.  The pizza feed went especially well as a good group of students came to practice their English.  The team did a wonderful job, even after more than a week of ministry, to connect with the students.  Monday Denise did an amazing, as always, job of tour guide of Wroclaw for the team.  The team should be back at home, pray for their recovery from traveling.

Please keep praying or the InterNational Church of Wroclaw.  Please especially pray for the Lord to have total reign over every aspect of the church.  Pray also that we will continue to grow closer to the Lord as we also grow closer to each other. June2 WSG

Hannah is having a great experience in Bulgaria.  Today she starts a series of ministry events with her target group.  Pray God’s will be done through everything.

Last week Denise and I started back with our Polish studies.  Then Monday our tutor’s mother passed away.  Pray for his family as they grieve their loss.  Friday we should have class again and I really need to focus.  Pray for wisdom and effective memory as we learn this challenging language.

Thanks for praying.