Friday, September 21, 2012

Money Problems--God Answers

A young Romany man, let’s just call him Ivan, had served as treasurer of his church somewhere in Eastern Europe. He succumbed to temptation and used some of the church funds for his own purposes. The pastor told Ivan he needed to return the money or he “will have problems with God.” Ivan did end up with problems, really big problems. He borrowed several thousands of Euros from some not very nice people who wanted their money back. Their communiques on this matter included death threats. Ivan asked the church to pray for him. The pastor told Ivan he needed to get right with God first and return the money he’d taken from the church. Ivan did so. The church prayed for him. Within a week (!), Ivan was able to resolve all his financial problems. As a result, not only did the death threats cease but, more importantly, Ivan decided that from now on, he would give 10% of his earnings to the church. “This is a fresh experience for our church,” the pastor said. Tithing is a foreign concept for most Christians, Romany or otherwise, in the former Soviet Bloc. Everyone has been very encouraged to see God at work through Ivan’s repentance, this miraculous answer to prayer, and the positive example Ivan now gives to all who hear of it.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Painted Hallways

Last week we made a visit to the Roma school where we will work as English tutors here in Kosice.  About a month before, we had spent a week at this same school with a mission team from Missouri, cleaning and painting some classrooms in preparation for the new school year.  One of our goals during the visit was to get some pictures of those classrooms now being used.

As we walked down the hallway, I remarked to myself that things seemed a bit brighter and cleaner than before - I assumed they had done basic cleaning before the school year started.  But once we reached the classrooms and spoke with the school's headmistress and custodian, we realized that after the Missouri team left the school staff and some students worked to repaint all of the hallways and a few more classrooms!

During the week of work with the Missouri team I kept thinking of all the work still to be done - it would take years of teams like this to do the whole school, and by then the first rooms would need repainting again!

And here, unexpectedly, a lot of that work had already been done.

Then I remembered something that headmistress Anna Koptova said.  As she thanked the team profusely for the work that had been done, she said that the team's work had given them a catalyst - she said the staff would finish using the paint that had been bought, and continue the work that had been started.

"You started something here that would not have been started otherwise," she said through a translator.

Reflecting on this with others, I realized this is a perfect statement of the kind of missions we are called to do.  If we just came and did all the work, we would certainly feel better about ourselves... but we'd still leave these people powerless.

Rather, our hope and goal is to do work - no matter how insignificant it might seem - that empowers others to continue it.  This is, after all, what Jesus did - he came and showed us how to do the job, then left it to us... and in the process, he gave us hope, along with authority and power to be his own presence in this world.

What are you doing today that can spread after you're gone?  How are we empowering others with our words and actions?  May God give us the grace to see beyond our own need to feel important, so we can give others value and hope!