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Saturday, August 08, 2009

UPDATE FOR JULY 2009

The Mystique of Missionary Work. How many foreign missionaries, at one time or another, have heard some admirer express this ardent near-veneration: "How wonderful it must be to be a missionary!" This awe may no longer be prompted by the vision of a white man, dressed in bermuda shorts and a pith helmet in the bush, surrounded by many dark faces, preaching through a translator in some foreign language. Perhaps that over-awed comment is inspired more by the admiration for anyone who is willing to leave his home and travel to an exotic land, eat strange foods and trek through country where no one else has gone with the Gospel.
This stereotype may have validity in some parts of the modern world, but the reality today, in Europe at least, is something else. Modern technology permits activities the apostle Paul never dreamed of: how did he manage without a computer?! And yet, he and hundreds of faithful evangelists over the centuries preached "Christ crucified" and made believers, built churches and left a legacy of faith, all without the benefit of "modern" tools. They did what they could with what they had. They lived normal lives, sometimes doing heroic things, but mainly "doing the next thing", whatever needed to be done, however noble or lowly.
As we endeavor to bolster weak, scattered Christians and encourage young men who are fast becoming the real leadership in the churches, we travel hundreds of miles yearly to wherever they congregate (in their churches or at conventions), furnishing Bible study materials that they can use at various levels in their ministry. Here is no mystique, no glamour, just plain work and hours of study, translating, writing, editing and re-editing, then hitting the road to meet their needs. Thank the Lord for the tools he gives: pray that we may use them effectively to fulfill his desire for the Harvest he seeks!
When do we take a break? This month we took two breaks! We relished the long-time friendship of Don and Janet Bridges and their daughters, as our guests from Germany touring Rome. We saw the ancient the new, and the usual sights ? from the Coliseum and Vatican Library and Museum to St. Peter's and MacDonald's (!). They relished the hospitality of Franca Gentile in Ciampino, getting a good sample of her Italian cooking.
Later, we participated in a "working vacation" about 70 miles from L'Aquila Italy's badly-hit earthquake center. About 40 believers gathered for rest, refreshment and Bible lectures. Physically, there was little "earth-shaking" about that mountain site, but we were challenged to reexamine questions like "What is our hope in the resurrection? And how does this affect our church life and evangelism?" Harold presented a morning meditation and we led the group in some "classic hymns" that touched the hearts especially of the older believers present. We renewed acquaintance with dear friends we have known for over 45 years and young church leaders whom we have watched grow up physically and in the faith. Their very presence and zeal underscored the importance of the work we are doing. We came home refreshed and challenged to take up our tasks with renewed zeal.
We really are grateful for your prayers for our safety in the earthquake zone. Now pray for our effectiveness as Gospel messengers.
Love from both of us,
Harold and Enid Fowler