The Netherlands & Poland Trip Report – October 2010
door Shannon Brian Carroll op dinsdag 23 november 2010 om 19:11.
Many thanks to those who supported me & this trip in prayer and all those who contributed financially. Since I heard this GREAT News (i.e. righteousness by faith alone -Rom 1v16,17), I’ve lived with a great passion to experience its fulness for myself & share it with the World in whatever way I can: in media, through print & cyberspace, through ministers training, & on mission trips.
For a long time I’ve felt the desire to go to Europe & Eastern Europe to see if, what, and how we might share this Good News & the knowledge of His Grace, as well as to introduce Safe Harbor to ministers on this continent. This trip with Jos was something we’d spoken about doing together for years. Jos Verhoef is one of those men who have taken the time and effort to get off his couch and leave the comfort of his home, culture, language & nation and GO get involved & DO what God has called us individuals in the church to do. He is a man who understands we each have our own special role to play in the Body of Christ.
Well, what a great trip! Traveling with Jos and Erik van Hulst in Erik’s Honda Insight through Europe for 2000 miles was both fun and challenging. While I met some wonderful pastors and individuals that Jos has established friendships with, and had a few good opportunities to minister in some churches in The Netherlands and Poland, I was confronted in so many areas of my personal life and belief system.
I enjoy experiencing other cultures to see again that MY way isn’t the best way and that neither mine, nor theirs, was either right or wrong. Well, this was no different in that European and Slavic people have a very different world view to mine.
As I walked around Mydanek and Auschwitz, two of the many concentration camps with their barbed wire and electric fences, showers, gas rooms, crematoria… monuments to the incomprehensible Nazi SS mass slaughter of men, women and children, I couldn’t help the choking hole of sadness that my heart felt as the reality of the holocaust that was played out right here in this very place!
It seemed the pages of history leapt to life in front of me: tens, hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands walked these final steps… Near a huge shrine of ash and human remains, I stood at a spot where one camp commandant ordered the machine gunning of 42,000 Jews in 2 days. Being a father of young children makes it all so much more real! The emotions I felt were crushing. Imagine!!! – the heartache and loss experienced by so many! (Watch Schindler’s List, it all happened in Poland.)
Few good evangelical books are in Polish and very few people speak English but the younger generation is now being taught it at school to replace Russian as the 2nd language. It’s a newer member of the EU and en route to be included into the Euro economic zone. The country is very staunch Catholic and Islam is not an approved religion. It recently lost its President and much of the cabinet in an air crash, the new President seems favorable to the “outer” new evangelical/ protestant church groups… less than 1% apparently considers themselves “born again”.
I met a number of very warm, generous and kind people among this small percentage of believers. I also witnessed very sad personal stories. Alcohol abuse has taken a HUGE and widespread toll: Deserted Moms left caring for young children, abused wives and children… A mindset deeply entrenched in beliefs controlled by powerless religion, of poverty, hurt, hopelessness and sadness. A nation & culture ripe for hearing about a really GOOD God, His LOVE, Hope & their Great Inheritance for those who believe.
As I observed & pondered different future potential outreach approaches, I felt that a “cookie cut” outreach strategy isn’t going to work effectively here.
As with many VERY humanistic societies, these people are ready for THE Good News delivered in a fresh way that they can connect with… not for religion or a form of godliness; they’re a people desperate for REALITY! Not theological, wordy or cerebral arguments, but real working solutions for everyday life issues they have grown to accept as normal.
To achieve this, it’s so easy for me to feel utterly helpless especially when I feel like it’s MY responsibility to help them and solve all their problems with my own strength & ability. I conveniently forget about all my own personal issues (the LOGS in my eye) and my own cultural anti-(un)-beliefs!
What a good reminder to know that Jesus really is the LORD of the Harvest! True success in His Kingdom is simply doing what HE calls & equips us to do! Though I think that reaping times are a lot more fun & encouraging to experience than some tougher sowing times, as I’m sure the Apostle Paul will attest to, I was challenged to become a better minister and rely more on the Holy Spirit & His power and ability and less on knowledge. Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
After all – it’s His Power that equips us to Be Witnesses!
Thanks to Jos, Ditteke & Erik for your kind hospitality and helping to make this trip a reality! It was such a great pleasure to meet new friends and experience all these new places. Though we saw some great results, I felt a strong sense of a new work being established… the early preparation time of new lands for the seed yet to come and find root in the hearts of people.
His Word will NOT return void!