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Stories From the Field

Kiss the King

“Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”

(Psalm 2:10-12)

“If you come for the king, you best not miss…”

The quotation above is taken from a very popular drama series about the lives of those caught up in the complicated mess of generational poverty, drug and human trafficking, policing, and politics of inner city Baltimore. It’s spoken by a very clever and dangerous character who knows that a rival gang is plotting to catch him in the open and end his life. His meaning is clear: “They better succeed in the attempt. Because if they don’t, I won’t fail in my retribution.”

As we wake up to a very sunny and beautiful morning here in Sofia, Bulgaria, our eyes, minds, and hearts are focused thirteen hours to the east…to the same place holding the attention of the rest of the world, at the moment. We do so with no concern for ourselves. We live in a country which joined NATO and the European Union fifteen years ago, buffered by other nations and a large body of water from the aggressor. But we watch with intense sadness and concern for our fellow human beings–the citizens of Ukraine–our fellow Christian brothers and sisters in the church of Ukraine, and our fellow missionaries still in the country, by choice.

But like so many of you, we also watch with anger. One whom Psalm 2 would consider a petty king of the earth has brought his army to roll over a peaceful nation. He demands that all in his way would offer him a kiss of fear or friendship. But this passage from our God reminds us that he is not the king to fear or befriend. In an ultimate sense, that place has only ever been held by One. And He speaks in this psalm most specifically to the unjust, self-aggrandizing, and ruthless kings of the earth. His judgment upon His enemies in Psalm 2 is striking and dreadful to contemplate. A sentence with no court of appeal. A judgment handed down without mercy. A wrath with no room for a brokered deal.

A long time ago His greatest enemies–cosmically greater than any Eurasian potentate–came for the king and they didn’t miss. In fact, they took Him down. But they didn’t realize that when He fell, He took all their weapons and terrible power down with Him. And they didn’t realize that when He rose again, He would no longer be vulnerable to any power of theirs, and they would have nowhere to run nor hide, no weapon with which to defend themselves. And they didn’t realize that when He went down and rose again, He took all those He came to save with Him.

This is why missionaries stay in Ukraine, and why they continue to go out to all the nations of the world…reached and unreached, old and new frontiers, unchurched and de-churched…because they know there are many who will have a desire to take refuge in the King, a desire to kiss the King. They just need the King to kiss them first through the message His followers bring.

Author: John Burger

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Stories From the Field

Mournful and Joyful

Last year at this time I had to tell the choir director at our downtown mother church that I couldn’t sing on Sunday, since I had been in England the week before and a virus was spreading. One year later I attended choir practice and found out that one of my fellow sopranos had passed away due to COVID-19.  I was told by her best friend: “I don’t know what to do without her, but…” she shrugged her shoulders. And we found our choir binders and sat in our slightly more spaced chairs and waited for practice to begin. 

The next week I found out that one of our English Club members—a believer with doubts and fears—had passed away in the hospital due to complications from COVID-19. And our club mourned. He was younger than Villi, having only turned 40 in January. 

March was bookended by the births of the Sale’s third child and the Hoot’s second. As our team cared for the siblings during hospital stays, we rejoiced in healthy babies and mothers, new people to love, and in seeing God’s faithfulness and creativity in these tiny humans!  

On March 12th, we held our first membership class for New Life Church, and two of the people from our seeker Bible study attended. 

These losses, these new lives—be they through birth or being born again—are equal parts mournful and full of joy. We do not “mourn like those who have no hope” though we certainly mourn the presence of our friends. But I am reminded very much right now that “To live is Christ and to die is gain.”

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Stories From the Field

Nov Zhivot New Member Class

In March Nov Zhivot Church hosted the first ever new members course. Eleven regular and new attenders of our church gathered Friday evening and all day Saturday to learn more about the church. Friday night we discussed what the church believes by going through the Apostles’ Creed, on Saturday we talked about what we practice as a church, what we expect from our members and what members can expect from the church.

Our friend who has not yet professed faith came, “Because I think that Jesus is the only one who can change people, and can change the world.” Another woman who had been coming for years was very surprised that the Bible commands that we submit to one another (Eph. 5:21).  We had to assure her that that wasn’t a translation error.  One family has just discovered Reformed theology and is excited to join a Reformed church.  We read a lot of scripture and had good discussions about doctrine, the life of the church, and how we can serve the Lord and one another. We plan on holding this course at least once or twice more this year to be sure to include everyone that wants to come, but our first trial was successful by the grace of God.  We confess with the psalmist that unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain (Ps. 127). Therefore we pray that the Lord will build New Life Church and we will rest in His sovereign care. 

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Stories From the Field

Bread Blessed by a Priest

“I had a short spiritual conversation with a young person outside an Orthodox church that they had just been praying in. She gave me this bread that was blessed by the priest. We are praying for the reforming of the Orthodox Church. Thankful for these opportunities to talk about Christ with someone who is a part of the Orthodox Church and yet is open to talking about their faith.”
Thankful for Ellen sharing about her heart for the Orthodox Church to be reformed & revived, & how God allowed her a moment to be able to connect with someone from the tradition she is praying for!

 

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Stories From the Field

English Camp 2018

“We talk about God and what the Bible says at English Camp. What do you think about that?”

Each year we ask students this question during the application for English Camp. It always provokes interesting conversations, even before we leave for camp!

This year our theme was God is Rescuer. Over the course of the week, we talked about how our lives are unmanageable and corrupted by sin. And the problem isn’t just that there are bad people in the world; the problem is that we all have evil in our hearts. God is vital because He is the only one who can rescue us from our own corruption.

Please continue to pray for those who attended camp. Many left with their beliefs about people challenged by what was shared from the Bible. Pray for them as they consider what the Bible has to say and pray for us as we continue to share with them about God and what the Bible teaches.

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Stories From the Field

Community of Faith

In February we celebrated our church plant’s 2nd birthday; we had our first meeting on February 14, 2015. Since then what looked like a small discussion group meeting on Sunday nights has grown and formed into a our “Community of Faith”. Very recently the women of the church- a full range of different backgrounds, points of view, ages, and also different languages- have started a Bible study that meets twice a month. We are reading and studying the book “The Lies Women Believe and the Truth that sets them Free” by Nancy Leigh Demoss. The book acts as a guide as we focus on the word of God, and our goal is to truly dig into His scriptures for our truth and our foundation. They invited me to be a part so I get to sit in and practice my Bulgarian listening skills. They have also cared for me and bought me an english version of all the materials, so I can follow along fully. I would ask you to pray for us as a group of women: to encourage each other, support each other, and push each other towards the truth.

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Stories From the Field

Vlado: A Life Transformed in Bulgaria – Video

Listen to Vlado Hristov of Sofia, Bulgaria, tell how his life been transformed from an “Orthodox atheist” with a drug addition to a follower of Christ who is helping to plant churches.