Sunday, March 17, 2013

Days Five and Six: Red Cabbage and Chickens

I didn’t get the chance to write yesterday—a long day. But some really cool stuff the Lord keeps throwing our way.

This morning I had the chance to speak to a larger gathering of workers in the area that included some of our partners but also workers from other groups. We sang together and hung out for a while. I was the speaker for the morning. Afterwards, I had lunch and a long theological discussion with a young, single man from Canada who arrived here after he graduated from college last fall and is now planning on making this work his life vocation.

Jake and I then travelled across town to join our friends, refugees from a country nearby who have started a church here. We love these guys so much! Their group began with two people a year ago. At tonight’s service there were over fifty people packed into a downstairs meeting room, including many young men, families and some older people. Many seekers were there as well as a good many recent converts. An amazing service. We started by singing for about thirty minutes, songs in their language but with music we would all be familiar with. Then a guest speaker, who brought a message in their language that lasted about forty-five minutes. A personal ministry time followed. And that’s when things really got interesting.

Almost everyone lined up in the central aisle (yes, the place had traditional pews that had hymnbooks in the pew racks). Jake and I were at the back, watching the service since we couldn’t understand any of it. But so many people were needing ministry that the guest speaker and the group’s leader couldn’t handle it all (BTW, three people came forward to make salvation decisions), so they called me up front to assist, along with an interpreter to help me. It was an incredible moment, and I was honored to minister to six or eight people, including one young woman wanting ministry for the healing of her back that was injured when she was imprisoned for her faith; a husband and wife who were also refugees and professional musicians and who wanted a blessing even though they weren’t believers; and two young men who felt called into vocational ministry.

Here’s a picture from tonight, with the faces of the refugees blurred:

Tomorrow Jake and I will be on the streets, handing out the material that you guys made possible. Pam and Cicei will be working with refugees.

I was really excited to here how well things went this morning back at home. Technology is taking ministry into new arenas, and I’m so happy you were able to share in a little bit of what’s going on here through the video I sent.

Yesterday we had a hilarious moment at lunch. We were downtown with our gang (that included our folks, our local partners and two refugee believers) and were able to hook up with one of our global partners, along with a group of his Latin American friends. We hung out some then went to a local restaurant with all fifteen of us. Turns out our global partner knew the restaurant’s owners and was able to speak their native language since they were from a nearby nation. So get this picture: our motley assortment of workers from around the world in a third-floor private dining room, looking out over some of the most impressive and iconic sights of Central Asia, whooping and hollering because it was freezing cold outside and we were all glad to finally be warm. Five different nationalities with five different languages and multiple interpreters all shouting at the waiter together. English, and Spanish along with the three other languages of nations right around us. This is what I think "cacophony" means in the dictionary. Then some of the Latin brothers told a joke in their language that had to be rendered into the other four languages, something about a red cabbage and a chicken. It never did make sense to me, but those guys could hardly breathe, they were laughing so hard. That took a while and after it was all over I realized how humor really can’t make the jump from one language to another. The cool thing was that all of us there were believers and shared the same faith. Sort of a Pentecost moment.

Last night we had a great time hanging out with our partners from home, who are working here as part of the same team. They and their families came over and we all ate dinner together. Then a wonderful time of shared ministry. Pam and I were able to have individual ministry time with each of the couples. What a blessing it was—we were transparent with one another and had the chance to really touch each other’s hearts.

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