Come Where It’s Dark

I bent over and ducked my head to enter the narrow doorway into a traditional home, and my shoulders brushed both sides of the door as I entered. Inside, I could stand easily, for the thatched roof was high, held together by bendable bark formed into an impressive grid that even an architect would appreciate. The circular walls were also formed in this fashion, which some mud around the base just to hold everything together. 
I turned my attention to the woman who had showed us in. This was her home. She was dressed in a brightly colored fabric that looked exceptionally beautiful against her dark skin. It is one long piece of cloth wrapped once over the shoulder and then around a few more times, strategically tucked and somehow staying together. (I bought one and tried to dress myself in it, which was terribly hopeless. Even with help, I couldn’t seem to get mine to stay intact without the assurance of some safety pins!) 
Her smile beamed in the darkness of her twelve-foot diameter home…

Next Generation

“Wanninī gudio!” The children all shouted as they threw their hands into the air, following the missionary’s lead as she taught them the well-known children’s song translated into the local language: God is so BIG, so STRONG and so MIGHTY, there’s nothing my God cannot do!
For four different afternoons, the missionary compound became a VBS campus, although we would never call it that since that would create too much ruckus among the Muslim leaders. So we just call it kids’ club, but don’t worry, the name may be watered down but the teaching is most definitely not. 
Since this year’s kids club fell around the Muslim holiday when Abraham sacrificed Ishmael (as is taught in Islam), the theme of “sacrifice” was chosen. 
Each of the four days included games, singing, memory verses, snacks, and an interactive Bible lesson. The four lessons centered on sacrifice: the first sacrifice God made to cover the shame of Adam and Eve in the garden, the near sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham, the Passover s…

Endless Seed Supply

We got off the paved road after four hours and then continued on a red dusty road for eight hours until I was convinced no human beings lived this far off the beaten path. Now you understand why I haven’t posted a blog in over a month. But here, in this remote, isolated area along a dried up river bed in East Africa, live a nomadic people group that one hundred years ago was entirely converted to Islam. Now it’s time for this tribe know Jesus Christ. 
Africa Inland Mission (AIM) began with the strategy to take the gospel into the interior regions of Africa and create a barrier to stop the spread of Islam from the northern parts of Africa as it swept south. AIM stays true to this mission today, still targeting unreached and Muslim people groups. Although many countries in East Africa are technically evangelized or “christianized”, Islam has recently been creeping back in. 
I was very privileged to partner with AIM this month and visit a missionary team who has been laboring over 30 years…

While Washing Dishes

She stood over the left side of the sink, washing, while I stood over the left side, rinsing and stacking. Shoulder to shoulder, she patiently answered all my questions about what how Greek culture is different from American, what is good and hard about living in Europe, and what it is like to do ministry in such a time and place as this. 
“It’s funny,” she chuckled. “You said you wanted to come see what life is like in Thessaloniki and I thought, well she could wash the dishes!” 
This family picked up and moved their lives to Thessaloniki less than a year ago. They aren’t renting an apartment; they used up their retirement fund to buy a house. And they couldn’t be more joyful about it. They are in it for the long haul; they are settling. 
So what does life and ministry on the mission field look like? As I watched this cheerful, dish-washing, people-loving woman greet people in the market, love people at church, and strike up conversation with the waiter (who served me the best mousaka I…

History in the Making

On the way to a Farsi speaking church, I met my first refugees in the metro station. 
It went like this: My contact person here in Greece knew of a woman who serves in a Persian church. I wanted to check it out, but neither one of them was able to meet me and take me there, so they arranged this refugee couple who attends the church to meet me in the metro station and show me the way. They found me, we got on the metro, we exchanged names, and then the husband got straight to the point.
“We don’t have religion. Like we don’t believe in God. We believe in nothing.” 
He didn’t say it rudely, just matter-of-factly, as if he wanted me to know this from the very beginning. I didn’t overreact, even though the thought may have crossed my mind that I got on the train with the wrong people.
I probably looked a little confused when I said, “But we are going to church, right?” 
“Yes,” he replied as if it made perfect sense. “We were looking for people of like-minded culture and language, so a friend …

The Church is a Missionary

Marseille is a large and culturally diverse city in France that was essentially created by many villages that just grew into one another a long time ago. For this reason, a village mentality still exists, meaning that much of life happens in your little neighborhood. You shop in your neighborhood, go to school in your neighborhood, and work in your neighborhood. 
Situated in one of these little neighborhoods is a church called the Chapelle de Fuveau. Planted by missionaries, it is now a congregation of faithful Jesus-lovers who live and love in their modern-day village: their neighborhood. 
I got to be a part of their neighborhood and congregation this past week by participating in “Christians on mission summer session.” There were ninety something participants, about half from Marseille and the other half from twelve different countries. It was a week intensely and intentionally spent on spiritual development and outreach. Basically, we studied the Word in the morning, served the commu…

The Potter

His smile beamed, practically illuminating the dark storage room which was spread out with various drying pottery pieces. He proudly showed us the vases, plates, and cups in their raw form, crafted by his own hands.
“Come, come see!” he exclaimed as he led us out of his workshop and towards the yard, which is where the whole process begins. 
He graciously showed us each step, beginning with the lumps of discolored, unwashed clay, plopped out on the ground like it was not worth anything at all. And I suppose it’s really not at the start. It’s just some unwashed clay that looks like the mucky stuff you’d find at the bottom of a lake. But even in this stage, the potter had eyes to see the beauty and quality of the clay that was invisible to my inexperienced eye. 
He washes it handful by handful, getting it ready to be thrown on the wheel. After forming it on his wheel, he sets it out for the drying process, then the heating process in a large brick oven (keeping in mind that he has to colle…