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God’s Love is Worth Sharing: Day Five of VBS in Martin, Slovakia

July 14, 2017

That happened fast.

Our week of Vacation Bible School in Martin, Slovakia has come to an end. Tomorrow we board a bus and head to Budapest for a few days for rest and relaxation, and then it’s home to the States. I’m not sure I’m ready to process the final day; maybe I’m just not ready to admit that today was our last full day in Martin for the year.

But this is a blog-a-day deal, so I have to write something…

Our final day’s theme was “God’s Love is Worth Sharing.” The clear import is that we are to be unashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ; that we are called to tell the good news. Throughout the day, however, I found myself in a slightly different, complimentary, place. God’s love isn’t worth much if it isn’t shared with others – and that means evangelism and fellowship.  We share the good news for the sake of helping others know Jesus’ love for them, but also that others may be drawn into the community we share. We are all prodigals in need of a welcome home.

And that is what Martin, and the CCE, is for me. It is community. Family. The church to which I go when I need a booster shot of the Spirit.

At the close of the afternoon, we gathered in the courtyard of the CCE, near the city center. In this former bastion of communion, we sang “Jesus Loves Me” (louder – Jesus, louder – JESUS, louder – JESUS!). We hippo-ed and clap-snap-nanner-whoop-whomp-boola-woo-beep-mooed. And we closed with a beautiful reminder that these children of Martin are the light of the world; they are the city on a hill, they are stars in the night. They are the ones into which we have poured our witness to God’s love and from whom we have received God’s love back many times over. These children will change this community; they will change this world. God is at work through them, bringing hope and happiness, family and fellowship, back into the dark places of this world.

As the day wound down, we received a tour of the high school. Lots of progress since last summer, and a new donor wall onto which we were invited to place our names. We went out for a celebration dinner and were treated to magnificent music by some of the students from the Lutheran High School (the setlist was fantastic, ranging from Slovak blues and Christian praise songs to Adele, Ed Sheeran, and a remarkably soul-haunting version of Britney Spears’s “Toxic.” #somethingIneverthoughtI’dwrite). The night ended with hugs and promises to see one another again soon. So shall it be.

What else?

Today, a Roman Catholic teenager who volunteered at VBS this week asked me if I was a pastor. Upon hearing my “yes,” she asked, “What do you do when you think all this God stuff is a lie?” And that led to just about the best five-minute conversation I’ve had in a good while.

Today, while we sang “You are the Light of the World,” I just couldn’t. Because tears.

Today, a current teacher at the elementary school must have figured out who I am (in Martin, I’m not so much “Dave” or “Pastor Lyle” as I am “that guy who married Erika Estenson”). She approached me and, with a good deal of passion and emotion, asked me to pass on her thanks to Erika for being her son’s first English teacher, all those years ago. I am awed every time I think about the leap of faith my then-girlfriend took in coming to Martin when the school was more of an idea than a reality. She’s a faith-leaper, that Erika, and her work with that first group of first graders continues to impact their lives. A year from now, those kids will be the first class to graduate from the Lutheran High School in Martin.

And Erika and I will be here to watch it happen.

Because God’s love is worth sharing.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Romans 1:16

From → Slovakia 2017

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