Sunday, August 21, 2016

You have provoked me today...

   The Baptist Church in Nesvady had a dilemma.  One of the church members, a cantankerous old man who, following his wife’s passing a couple of years ago has only become more a pain the pastor’s side, began inviting his Roma neighbors to church.  He would go and visit with them often, taken them Bible-themed movies and copies of several translations of Scripture (Romanes, Hungarian, Slovak) in an attempt to help them study Scripture together.  Well, all of his relationship-building paid off.  The matriarch of the family accepted Christ, came to church, and wanted to be baptized.  On the day she was Baptized, twenty-something of her relatives attended the service, sending the church into full-blown panic mode!  What if these people start attending church?  What if they want to join too?  How do we minister to them?
   Because I have known the pastor since our first week in Slovakia and have come to know many of the members including the elders of the church, they decided to invite Dianne and me to come and lead them in a discussion about ministry with Roma.  Their three main questions:  Roma history and culture?  What does the Bible say about ministry with minorities?  What are some practical things we should do?
   The first two topics are able to be done in a weekend conference setting.  The last question, much to their disappointment, cannot be answered from a distance but must be discovered through genuine relationships rooted in their context.  While we will continue to walk with them as they discover their practical ways of ministering in their community, the comment from one of their elders as he left church Sunday morning provides a bit of hope.
   “You have provoked me today,” he said.
   “Well, Marian, I think that is a good thing.  How did I provoke you?” I asked.
   “I have never considered Roma to be created in the image of God.  I will have to keep thinking over what that means.”  He said with a nod that the journey his church is undertaking is likely to be more provocative then they ever expected.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


Camp Fire with Polish Sausages
You'd expect a lot of learning to go on at a week-long camp with daily English lessons and Bible study sessions. Last month we helped out with such a camp in Poland, where Keith's brother Ted and sister-in-law Bev work with a new Polish Baptist church. This local church is very focused on evangelism and had organized the camp as an opportunity to share the Gospel. A group of American volunteers, also very focused on evangelism, also came to help. They learned some unexpected things--and so did we.
Lesson A:  a very sweet American woman had never, to her knowledge, met anyone with autism. There were two young people at the camp with different forms of autism. During the course of the week, this lady learned more about the autism spectrum and became more comfortable interacting with these folks. I would love to know how God is going to use these lessons!
Lesson B:  Bev and I were to teach the beginners' group. After the first day, we split the group. Bev took the beginners who could actually speak English. The other three campers went with me and Monika, a young Polish woman fluent in English. Began with sentences like "I am Polish"  and progressed to "She drives a truck underwater" and "Monika fishes for pigs." Silliness proved to be a good learning tool.
Lesson C:  I didn't grow up traditional Baptist, and I am not a typical American. After a bit, I wondered whether this camp program and I were a good fit. But God had called me there for a reason. I was able to pass on ways of meeting God with my Bible study group which are not typically Baptist. My experiences with Romany believers, with illiterate believers, with Mennonites and Pentecostals and Roman Catholics all enriched our time together. At the end, a member of our group wrote, "I have had great advantage from talking with you." She had not prayed the sinner's prayer, but she left with a firm affirmation that she, too, had been adopted into God's family. 

Fellow Camper in Keith's Hat
Lesson D:  Dancing isn't just for squares. One evening Bev taught us how to dance like they do in Tennessee, where she and the volunteers are from. We danced the night away in groups of 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6. Great Blue Grass music; great fun!

Lesson E:  Every night one or two people shared their faith story. Powerful evangelism. 
Lesson F:  Finish strong. 

Thursday, August 4, 2016


Keith first met Stano and these other Romany brothers in 2014 when they helped record the New Testament in their Eastern Slovak Romani language. Now Stano & co. are helping to translate the Old Testament. (Excerpt below taken from:  
THE VALUE OF HEART-LANGUAGE SCRIPTURE goes even deeper. Several people have told Stano what it felt like to hold their New Testament for the first time. At first they felt shame in seeing God’s Word in what they saw as their second-class language. But soon the shame was eclipsed by joy.
“I believe that they’re not ashamed of their language anymore,” Stano says as he looks up a word in the dictionary. “They have tasted of something, like myself, that we have God’s Word in our language. That’s something wonderful.”
Pavol looks up from his screen.
“For our nation, for our people, this is something that is very precious.”