It has now been just over a month since Candice and I returned from our 2 week trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina. I wanted to take a little bit of time to reflect back on what led us to make this trip, what was accomplished, and how this changes anything for our future plans. Consider this to be the very condensed version.
Toward the end of last year I sat in a meeting with our Mission's Pastor. He began a discussion about planning a Summer of 2013 trip to Bosnia. He expressed an interest in bringing a few high schoolers on this trip and really wanted me to go because of my previous involvement with the youth group at our church. I went home that night and spoke to Candice and she was on board and also considered going herself although we knew that the fact that we have 4 young children would make this very difficult to do.
As time went on we committed to going. Our kids took this a bit rough because they knew they would miss us. I remember one night walking down our hallway where Candice had installed a chalkboard on the wall. On the chalkboard our oldest daughter Brooklyn wrote out a great plea to be able to go with us. There were tears on other nights but we spent months praying that the kids would do well while we were away.
Every other Monday night for several months our team of 10 met to prepare for this trip. I can't imagine many other mission trips out there where those who would be going on the trip met together as much as we did. But it was a great experience getting to know others on the team and get a broader perspective of missions, cultural issues, etc. We wanted to go to Bosnia well prepared so that we would be a blessing and not a burden to the Bosnian church.
We flew out on June 20th from Eugene. We had stops in Denver, Newark, and Munich before arriving at our final destination in Sarajevo. The first day we arrived was really exciting for me. Our Bosnian brethren thought it would be good to take us out to eat and to overlook the city before settling into where we would be lodging the next few nights. Many of our team members were extremely tired but I was fully awake and loving the experience!
But the jet lag eventually set in a bit more. We got to see a good amount of Sarajevo and attend some church services there. Then on Monday we made our trip down to the city of Konjic and then over to camp Emek Beraka at Berako Lake. Here we spent the whole week working from sun up to sun down. I personally spent time on tilling up a sandy area for a coffee bar and helped set up the posts and walls for this bar as the week progressed. I also worked on setting up the water, working on septic system, moving and setting up beds, setting up tents, among various other odd jobs. But the end result was a camp that was ready to go for the camp season that is happening as I type. I wish I could be there now to see the fruits of our labor but as the saying goes, one person sows and another person reaps!
On Friday evening the first prayer camp of the year began. It was great to get to meet and spend time in prayer over the camp with the Bosnian Christians. Many of the attendees are leaders of the church. It was a wonderful experience to see their unity in promoting this camp and utilizing it as a means to bring various people into the camp to hear the Word of God. What a fun and beautiful place this is. I hope to be back someday to enjoy it more fully.
We then departed for a couple nights in Mostar. This city has so much history and it was fun to finally have the opportunity to let loose and experience the culture and history of Bosnia without many time constraints. We also attended some church services in Mostar. I actually had the opportunity to speak in front of the small church on Sunday morning using a translator. I spoke briefly about the Parable of the Sower and how the seeds that bear great fruit are the ones that land in fertile soil where their roots can grow deep. My encouragement for them was to foster an environment where the younger generation especially can grow in their understanding of the Bible and the Christian worldview. I have perhaps expressed some of these concerns in other blogs and will certainly spend more time on that later. But the main point is that I believe many Christians today are apathetic to growing in their understanding of the Word of God in a time where this understanding is as crucial than ever before. Can I get an "Amen"?
After Mostar we headed back to Sarajevo where we stayed a few more nights with a pastor in the city. We had the great pleasure of listening to he and his wife's story about how they met, their years during the war, and the circumstances that led them to truly know Christ for the first time in their lives.
When we left Sarajevo Candice and I sat next to a young man on the airplane who had just spent some time with YWAM in various places around the world. It was encouraging to see that all throughout the world the gospel is being proclaimed. It's especially edifying to know that even though we may live in a land of spiritual decline, the gospel is spreading rapidly to all nations.
Now that I have had time to reflect on this trip, I don't feel like our path has been greatly altered. I feel like Candice and I have found the path God is leading us to for our ministry. But one things this trip did show me is that the need is urgent and as a good friend once told me "The facility is born out of the ministry. The ministry is not born out of the facility." We don't need "things" to minster to others. We just need hands and feet and a willing heart.