MY FIRST TEAM!
Wow! My first team to Eastern Europe! There were nine of us, including a three-person music group, a children’s teacher, a man to teach on creationism, an evangelist, a lay photographer, a prayer warrior, and a leader, me. Four women, three men, and a married couple.
Plans were made, donations were given to fund us, and off we went. Not even one of us had any experience doing this kind of thing! None of the others on the team had even been in that part of the world. My husband, Neal, and I had made an exploratory trip about six months earlier.
Our team flew into Germany, rented a van and a car to hold all of us and all the music equipment that we were taking. We still needed room for the supplies that we would be buying in Western Europe to give to the people in Eastern Europe.
I had never even owned a credit card, which we had to have to rent a vehicle! Fortunately, one of the team members had a credit card and was willing to use it!
Our first challenge was to find the new Bible Society office which was located in Germany. When we found it, the gate was locked! We pounded and pounded on the gate until we got their attention. They graciously let us in. We were able to buy devotionals, children’s Bibles, copies of the Gospel of John, tracts and more!
Why did we want to buy them? To be able to give these to the people who would be begging for them at the outreaches that we planned to do! They were still unavailable to buy in Eastern Europe at that time.
Somewhat aware of the situation, before entering the first Eastern European country, Czechoslovakia, we bought a variety of fruit, chocolate spread, rice, sugar, cheese, large cans of vegetables, boxes and cans of milk, boxes of juice, butter, candy, raisins, salami and much more, to give wherever we saw the need.
Our next challenge was to find Josef’s house, which was the last contact that my husband, Neal, and I had made about six months before. Why was that such a challenge, you might ask? There were several reasons! It was because nothing was in English, because I had no sense of direction and Neal was not here to help. Also, it was on an unmarked dirt road. Do you get the picture? So far it sounds like a crazy venture, right? But God enables us to do whatever He asks us to do!
A fellowship was waiting for us. As soon as we arrived, they fed us the sandwiches and drink that they had already prepared. We shared the Word, sang and taught them some songs, and prayed together until after midnight. It was a great beginning to the first of many trips to follow!
The next morning, we sorted through the things that we had brought for these people in Jihlava. Our hostess was on the verge of tears when we gave her the bag of food that we had bought in Germany for them. Those items were not available in the stores in that country yet.
Meantime, three of our team had traveled on to the second city to teach on creationism, where a local science professor translated for our teacher. No one in any of the schools had ever taught about creationism before. It was very well received! We heard the good report when we arrived there a day later.
Six of our team stayed in Jihlava to do a one day Kids Camp. Those children had such lo-o-ong attention spans! It was really quite amazing! They were so excited for us to be there. They sang with us and participated in the stories very enthusiastically!
In the evening we had a youth meeting at the home of our hostess. We each shared whatever God led us to say. I told them that I believed that God wanted them to go out on the streets and to the town square to share the Good News–now! So, I gave them a strong challenge to do that. Because the country was newly opened, the cults were all flooding in; so, they couldn’t just sit back and wait but needed to do it now!
The next afternoon we divided up again, with some of us doing another Kids Camp, and the rest of us doing an outreach on a riverbank. In all the outreaches, there were Believers from local churches we were working with. Their participation was very important. Long after we were gone, they would be able to do the needed follow up.
We had brought our own microphones and speakers, keyboard, guitars, and so on. As we set up, a crowd gathered immediately, and many responded to the music and the message. We heard later that there was good follow-up from the local believers. They were learning to live freely and to take good advantage of the opportunities that their new-found freedom gave to them.
In both places we left the pastors with New Testaments, tracts, children’s Bibles, and blank cassettes to make copies of Bible studies. We also left food that we had bought before entering the country, because the shelves in the stores there were still very bare. We were off to a good start with God’s blessing!
The local people now had the amazing open door in the country to go into public schools and teach and preach the Word for an hour every week! Wow!
What an opportunity! We later learned that they did quickly take advantage of this open door of ministry! Something that we heard over and over was, “We don’t know how to live free,” but they were very happy to be learning!
We were so blessed to be able to leave the pastor 250 New Testaments, tracts, devotional books, Gospels of John, 330 blank cassettes and a bag of food! In addition to pastoring the church which had grown from 110 to 280 people, he was the pastor for two gypsy camps!
- Can you see yourself in one of the situations like the above?
- Maybe you see yourself as a Sender, which is equally important as one who goes on a mission.
MY FIRST TEAM is a sneak peek from Yvonne's new book of short stories from her Eastern European ACTS Ministry trips. Keep an eye out for the upcoming release of this yet to be titled book!