Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sowing Seeds

I read in the Spirit of Prophecy that some people are sowers and others are reapers. Looking back on my journey with the Lord, I would categorize myself as a sower. However, I've been developing a desire to get more of a balance here, to become also a reaper, but I don't know how and when this shall happen.

Once I had the opportunity to speak before a secular audience of about 250 people. This was nearly five years ago, when my father retired from his job as the principle of a college. There was this big celebration in his school and I told my dad I would like to contribute with a song. He agreed, and I took this opportunity to combine this with a personalized speech for my father. I shared a story of his life, boiling down to the fact that nothing happens by coincidence and the Lord has given him (like all of us) talents and that I can't do anything of my own strength. I praise God that there was a lot of positive feedback, and some of the attendees were even in tears.

Somehow, the Lord keeps giving me ideas to share spiritual truths with secular, unchurched people. Maybe that's why I'm here in this secular environment.

I've been trying to get the different language versions of the Great Controversy to send to the departing Commissioners before they leave office on February 9. I haven't been successful with every version, but at least I managed to get a majority of them. One of my candidates was the Danish Commissioner, Mrs. Fischer Boel, who has been holding the portfolio for Agriculture and Rural Development. Hereunder is a message that I received through her assistant the day after I sent her the book:

Dear Mrs Weichhold

Commissioner Fischer Boel has asked me to thank you very much for the book you have sent her. It seems to be very interesting.

She was very touched by your thought and is looking forward to reading it now that she - hopefully - will have some more free time after ending her mandate as Member of the Commission.

Mrs. Fischer Boel sends you her best regards.

WOW! I was really encouraged by this e-mail, as it suggests to me that my efforts haven't been totally in vain.

I'm praying for more opportunities to be used as a tool to reach my secular colleagues at all levels, although I don't know at this point what I would get myself into if the Lord answers my prayers. But if He provides those opportunities, He also has to enable me to do whatever needs to be done.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The harvest is plenty but the laborers are few

There is one thing that has been occupying my mind for a while. I wonder how the work in Europe can ever be finished. In Belgium, there are less then 1700 Adventists, with a population of about 10 million. This means that there is less then 1 Adventist on 6000 inhabitants!

Every morning, I take the metro to go to work. It takes me about 20 minutes from my home to my office, and I usually listen to spiritual music until I enter the premises of my workplace; in order to uplift my mind heavenward, and also to override the rock- und popmusic they usually play in the metro stations. One of my favorite songs is "People need the Lord":

Everyday they pass me by,
I can see it in their eyes.
Empty people filled with care,
Headed who knows where?

On they go through private pain,
Living fear to fear.
Laughter hides their silent cries,
Only Jesus hears.

People need the Lord, people need the Lord.
At the end of broken dreams, He's the open door.
People need the Lord, people need the Lord.
When will we realize, people need the Lord?

We are called to take His light
To a world where wrong seems right.
What could be too great a cost
For sharing Life with one who's lost?

Through His love our hearts can feel
All the grief they bear.
They must hear the Words of Life
Only we can share.

People need the Lord, people need the Lord
At the end of broken dreams, He's the open door.
People need the Lord, people need the Lord.
When will we realize that we must give our lives,
For people need the Lord.

There are so many different people I observe in the metro everyday. People who for some reason or another came to this cosmopolitan city. They are white, black, yellow; they are Europeans, Africans, Americans, Sintis, Romas; quite a few are wealthy, many are part of the (upper) middle-class, and a considerable number of them is rather poor, or at least struggling with finances. Some look happy, some look neutral, some look sad. Interestingly, I just learned about a new study which has found that removing just the tears out of pictures of people crying reduces the sadness that viewers perceive in the photos, even though the rest of the expression remains intact. So how much pain is behind those "neutral faces"? Most of these people definitely don't know Jesus as their personal Saviour. They don't know that the Lord has something better in store for mankind than this world has to offer.

But who is going to tell them?

At the moment, I feel somehow paralyzed to share the Good News even in my own personal sphere of influence. How can I reach my colleagues? How can I establish trusting relationships with them? And if, by God's grace, I can win one of these precious souls, it would be just a drop in the bucket. Would it? Of course, even one single soul is very valuable in God's eyes. But there is still so much work to be done. However, the Lord is still in charge!

At the GYC convention, I was able to talk to one of the speakers of Amazing Facts who lives with his family at Uchee Pines. They have been doing evangelistic campaigns in Hungary, and they would be very open to come to Belgium as well. Of course in Europe it's crucial to combine such efforts with medical missionary work. So we would have to start off by giving a health seminar which would lead straight into a evangelistic series. Thus, we could even cover two language groups, as this would have to be interpreted from English into French. Some of my friends from Uchee would be eager to come and help with this. So, Lord willing, this could be one more step towards conquering Europe...

This is a group picture with my unit

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What a journey!

Last Monday, I made it safely all the way from Colorado back to Brussels. It was quite an exciting journey with some unexpected happenings.

The first interesting encounter was with the driver of the shuttle bus in Loveland, Colorado. He asked me where I was from, and I told him that I lived in Brussels, Belgium. He said: "So you are a EU bureaucrat!" I was astonished about this statement, as the Americans usually don't come to such conclusions when I tell them where I live and work. But this man (maybe in his 60's) turned out to be from Australia. So we started a general discussion on politics, the economy, as well as conspiracy. I decided to give him a leaflet on prophecy and world history, as well as a small handout called "Why alcohol is not good for you". When he read this title, he told me that he had been with AA and that he was dry for 37 years; and he also asked me whether I was a recovering alcoholic! In fact, he used a more elegant word than alcoholic, but I can't remember. Anyway, I told him he could give the handout also to someone else.

In Atlanta, I had to get on my plane to Paris. My travel agency had informed me that the flight would leave two hours earlier than originally scheduled, but somehow, I didn’t internalize this, and so I was too late to check in! I was very upset, but they told me they would put me in standby for the next flight to Paris. I got on this plane, and this turned out a real blessing. It was a plane operated by Air France (and not by the code-share partner Delta), and I realized that the service was much better than on any Delta flights I had ever been on before. In addition, I ended up with a seat that gave me much more room for my legs than usual, so this made the journey more pleasant.

Arrived in Paris, I was supposed to take a high-speed train to Brussels, as Air France doesn’t operate flights anymore between these two cities, but they cooperate with the French rail company “TGV”. Sitting in the waiting room, I heard an announcement that there was an earlier train coming then the one I was booked on, and of course I wanted to get on it. So I went to the counter of Air France and the representative sent me down to the gate, but he said I had to be quick, as the train was going to depart without any further delay. So I hurried up and at the gate I addressed one of the employees of TGV, asking if I could go on this train, even though I had a reservation for the later train. He said that this was impossible unless I changed my ticket with Air France. I didn’t understand this kind of bureaucracy, as I saw there was still a lot of room in the train, and I started arguing with him. Finally, they sent me to the Air France staff located at the very end of the train. I approached them quickly, so they probably assumed that I’m just late on the train that I was booked on. The doors were about to be shut. I explained one of the employees the situation and asked if I could go on this train. He promptly gave me a new seat reservation and told me to get on immediately. I managed, and of course, I thanked this helpful man profusely. Then it popped into my mind that I still had some French health flyers in my bag, so I called him and gave it to him. Next to him there was one of his colleagues witnessing this and he was curious about what I had just given him. So he opened it and began reading to him: “See, it’s about sunshine, water, air…”. So I thought I could also give one to his colleague. However, the doors where about to close, so I had to be very quick. So by accident, I took one of the French flyers on Prophecy and World History that I also carried with me! Well, maybe this was exactly what this man needed, who knows! Anyway, later on I realized that I was even seated in a first class compartment!
I was home at lunchtime, and I'm very thankful for the Lord's intervention throughout the whole journey.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The year 2010 has just begun. What will it bring?

For me, 2009 was mainly a year of transitioning back to Europe: Going back to my work with the European Commission in Brussels, my current mission field. My heart is full of eager anticipation of the events to come in this year. There have been lots of changes on the political floor at the EU headquarters lately, and 2010 will be a year of transition for the European Commission, the administrative body of the EU. As for the Churches in Belgium in beyond, I can discern a “wake-up”, an increased awareness of the necessity to finish the work, but there is still so much to be done on this secularized continent, and the labor is always on the short side.
My 3-years stay in the US prepared me pretty well to face my old situation again, yet I don’t really feel adequate to serve the Lord in the capacity of a medical missionary in this challenging field. However, the statement of a brother I talked to during my Christmas visit at Uchee Pines Institute encouraged me a great deal. He considered it a good thing that I felt inadequate, “because if we feel adequate we wouldn’t depend on the Lord.” Amen to this. So I decided to accept the challenge to continue reaching out to my coworkers as well as my brothers and sisters in Brussels and beyond. I’m so thankful the Lord has planted me on this continent, and I’m grateful for the talents He has given me.
To me, the “spiritual climax” of 2009 was definitely the GYC convention in Louisville, Kentucky, which was held from December 30 through January 3. I felt greatly challenged by one of the first morning devotions, but it even became better towards the end. In fact, a great burden that I had felt was completely lifted after the Sabbath sermon by Mark Finley. I’m so grateful that I had spontaneously decided to sign up for GYC, as I had not originally planned on going there while visiting the States.
Until coming Sunday, I’m going to enjoy wintery Colorado with dear friends at Eden Valley, where I spent the summer of 2008 as a volunteer. It's rather cold and dreary today, but it's supposed to get better towards the weekend. It doesn't diminish my joy of being here as a visitor anyway!
I hope to be able to upload some pictures soon. May God richly bless you in this year 2010 - wherever the Lord has planted you!