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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Beeson Pastors Preach in Romania

Here is a video of me preaching in Romania with translator and pastor of the church, Romi. Im telling the church that my church back in Stroudsburg, PA is praying for us.

Thanks to all of you who have prayed for our trip to Romania. We had a great time and feel as if God used us for His purposes. My prayer was specifically, "God, may your Spirit speak through me and make a connection that I cannot make between my English language and their Romanian language. God if my preaching is going to have an impact, you are going to have to speak through me." I firmly believe that the best preachers are those who not only know Scripture well but know their congregational context well enough to make the connection between the biblical world and our contemporary world. While preaching in Romania, not only did I use a different language, it was hard for me to relate the Word to their world since I'm not familiar with their culture. This is why I prayed for God to make a connection through my preaching that went beyond my abilities and knowledge.

God let me know, in dramatic fashion, that he answered my prayer. I preached two times, once on Sunday and the other time on Thursday. After my sermon on Sunday morning on the topic of suffering, an elderly man about 70 years old approached me. He did not know any English but with tears in his eyes told me in Romanian (the translator was standing there with me) "It wasn't you speaking; it was God." This man, without knowing it, affirmed the answer to my exact prayer.

On Thursday evening I preached a message on the Samaritan woman about the dangers of covering our shame with religion. This church was very different from the small village church where the old man approached me. This church was much larger and gathered in the city of Arad. After preaching, a young man about 18 years old greeted me and said in perfect English, "God spoke through you tonight." My prayer request was affirmed again. It was as if God wanted me to know that he heard my prayer and that the most important voice to be heard through any sermon is not the preacher's voice but His voice. I praise God for his gracious answer to my prayers.

Of course, we learned more from the Romanian Christians than they likely learned from us. Many of them have lived through the tyranny of Communism and yet have maintained their faithful allegiance to Christ in the midst of persecution. I felt often during the trip that perhaps those Christians who remained faithful in the face of Communism should be preaching to us. They also had a sacred simplicity in their worship services. Many people of all ages participated in the services through song, readings and prayer. The prayer time was particularly special as lay people prayed spontaneous prayers throughout the sanctuary. We learned a lot from our Romanian brothers and sisters.

Our Beeson Pastor team had a great time together. I have really grown in my love for these guys. Throughout our time in Romania we laughed often despite half of our group getting sick throughout the week with flu like symptoms. The highlight of our fun together was a day in Budapest, Hungary at the end of the trip. Budapest is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen, as you'll see in the pictures below.

We only have one more trip (Korea) and one more class (Leadership) in our Beeson Year. In our final three months we will be working hard on our dissertations. Dissertation proposal hearings will beheld in late April/early May. Please pray that me and my classmates will have the energy and wisdom to finish well after a rigorous, though spectacular, year.

Here are some of the orphans who have been adopted into the family of Global Hope, a mission founded by our Dean, Randy Jessen, to help Romanian orphans.

Our Romanian hosts- Pastor Romi, his wife Dorothy, and Angela, Dorothy's mother who cooked all of our meals. They were wonderful people and gracious hosts.

We're getting ready to preach at one of the small village churces in Romania.

Me and Spencer in the court yard of the largest Catholic Church I have ever seen. This was in Budapest.

Here we are eating, as usual, at a very fine restaurant in Budapest. I had one of the best steaks of my life!

This was the castle of King Stephen in the city of Budapest.

This is the parliament building overlooking the Danube River in Budapest.