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VBS Day Three: Jesus Gives Us Direction

July 14, 2016

Our third day of Vacation Bible School in Martin was another great success! We sang, did relay races, heard Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and made sheep (Pastor Kersten would have loved today’s craft!) Why sheep? Because our theme for the day was, “Jesus Gives Us Direction.” And sheep need direction! It was a ton of fun to spend the day with the children and our Slovak friends.

And goodness knows we need direction! While our youth were away in the evening visiting the summer camp for the high school kids at the CCE’s school, a few of us were able to have dinner at a lovely Slovak restaurant with our hosts. Potato pancakes, dumplings, sauerkraut, and pivo! I could eat Slovak food forever.

Over dinner, our conversation turned to the state of affairs in Slovakia. 2016 was an election year and, for the first time, the neo-Nazi People’s Party captured enough votes to secure seats in the 150-seat parliament. 8.6% of the vote, good for 14 seats. The Slovak National Party returned to parliament for the first time in four years, earning 15 seats. These 29 seats represent voices of strong nationalism, anti-Semitism, and anti-immigrant fear mongering. What direction is this country headed?

We Americans might ask the same questions of our own country, in which the spirit of “know-nothingism” has returned with a vengeance. But there is hope, for Jesus gives us direction. We heard yesterday that after the Slovak elections, during which the younger voters in the country voted for the Nazis in great numbers, the young people educated at the Lutheran high school in Martin couldn’t understand how such views could be held by their peers. Here in Martin, the Christian youth are not only receiving an exemplary education, they are also hearing and internalizing the good news of Jesus Christ that seeks freedom, openness, and opportunity for all people.

The Lutheran voice of Slovakia is alive and well, and I pray that we will faithfully witness to the gospel throughout our own upcoming elections. Not necessarily by speaking for particular candidates, but by lovingly advocating for policies that benefit all people, and by standing against policies grounded in fear, scapegoating, and hate. For such things are not of God, nor are they part of Jesus’ direction for us, even if some would put Christian labels upon such ideologies. No. Let us follow only and ever in the direction of Jesus, in which hate and fear have no place. Have no fear, little flock!

From → Slovakia 2016

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