Imagine for a moment what it would be like if North Korea, perhaps the country most closed to the gospel, suddenly opened to the outside world and even allowed Christians to come and plant churches. After 500 years of Islamic rule under the Ottoman Empire and 45 years under Communist and atheist rule, Albania’s situation was similar. In 1991 when the Communist regime fell, Albania was the most closed country in the world, with zero churches and few known believers. Four years later missionaries Kurt and Stephanie Plagenhoef arrived in the country and got to work. Today there are 200 evangelical churches and more than 20,000 believers!
Missionaries Steve and Christina Walent have served in Europe for more than 33 years, and in that time, through their ministry Church Basics International (CBI), they have partnered with numerous churches to help them implement positive change. The Walents are passionate about their calling to help churches “rediscover their reason for being and become a church that lives the Great Command and Great Commission.”
One of the marvels of Europe is the prolific and brilliantly designed train system. It’s incredible how it has been engineered to be easy to use and it seems to flow fluidly every day. Yet even the most seasoned travelers can make the mistake of scrambling down one of the numerous staircases leading to a platform where two trains have doors opened, inducing the panicked question of, “On which track is my train?”
In 2003, after 17 years of working in the entertainment industry and walking in the world, I gave my heart and life back to Christ. I prayed every day for a year, “Lord remake me, remold me, make into the person you created me to be and I will go where you want me to go and I will do whatever you want me to do.” Folks, be careful what you pray for. The Lord answered that prayer of mine in ways that if you would have told me back then, what I would be doing and where I would be doing it, I would have thought you were had lost your mind!
On a cold winter night in Madrid, Spain, a small group of Christians sought a spot protected from the bitter, blowing wind from which they could preach the gospel, as they do each night in the Puerta del Sol, a popular destination in the center of the city. However, this night people had fled from the cold and the plaza was unusually empty. As Maritza began to sing her testimony song, people seemed to appear from nowhere and gather around, listening intently. As missionaries Kevin and Karen Prevost commented, this was “a glimpse of God’s glory on the street.” And it’s exactly what they’re praying for more of every night.
…Our remote, private dining experience was disrupted by the whining chatter of a two-year old scrambling through the entry followed by an exasperated middle-aged guy dawning a scruffy face and weary look. What startled us most was not the rambunctious toddler, but the man harshly speaking perfect, American English. I can not express adequately the shock of both of us, as that was the last thing we anticipated in this remote, mountainside basement restaurant in Macedonia.
You don’t become a missionary by raising money and flying to a foreign country. You do it by being obedient to God. Tell people about Jesus where you live. Get out of your comfort zone. Sell something precious and apply it to your debts. Make a sacrifice. Develop better friendships. There is an old saying: “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” While this is not to be taken literally in this sense, (please, don’t start wearing the national garb of the country you want to go to just yet). However, somewhere in the process, we have to make a conscious decision that there is no going back.
‘Am I called to go?’ This is the question I have asked the Lord many times. Am I called to go to a new job? Am I called to go to a new place? Am I called to go to this University? Am I called to go on with my normal life? Am I called to shift gears and turn down a new path, now, right now?
With a robust inquiry, she asked, “Are you okay?” I quickly replied with some apprehension in my voice, “Yes, dear, I am fine...but our Speed the Light car is in the middle of the Danube River.” The questions gushed like a freshly opened fire hydrant. “Are you okay? What happened? Did you get your computer out? What about your suitcase?”