What does obedience look like?

June 11th, 2010

I have seen how the Lord works through obedience quite often but this particular one, to me, encouraged me since I was involved in the prayer group and seen how God turned nothing, once again, into something. 🙂  A group of us prayed for Greece for sometime, before the riot took place…We didn’t understand why but our group formed within a day and this group was faithful in prayer. We prayed everyday for a month and took turns in fasting and praying while the others were out and about doing the Lords work.  We are still continually praying for Greece and now are spread all over the world.  I have no idea where some of them are at at the time being because being out on the field sometimes means no internet access.   Never the less, we are emailing when we can…”Team Greece” is what we called it, got together and prayed like crazy..we prayed for everything imaginable because we didn’t understand what to pray for so we thought, lets pray for it all…the people, the children, the government, the churches, the hardened ground, to send missionaries….the list goes on and on..we had prayer walks got ate up my whatever bug Hungary can muster up..we didn’t care..we all wanted to pray..but there was one particular person who stepped out with only a few connections that we prayerfully asked the Lord to give us..I am telling you He is sooo faithful.  Anyway, back to this person.  Her name is Steffany..my sweet Steffany whom I adore and have had so much laughter with.  She went..I was so excited but scared at the same time…Greece just went through some major turmoil and she said, ” I am going to go and pray for the country and ask the Lord what He wants us to do.”  WOW!! So, I am going to attach her letters on what the Lord is doing and opening up for His work through the obedience of His chilren..Enjoy!

Letter 1

I am about wrapping up my time here in Thessaloniki (was here Wed-Sunday) and thought I would send you all an update before heading out to a new town tomorrow morning. Tomorrow, I plan to go to a beach area called Kassandra for a few days and spend some time on the ocean, soaking in the sun/swimming…and of course praying. 🙂 I will continue to give you updates along the way, if you’d like. After there, I hope to head down to Larissa and check out the church there.

So, to share a bit about Thessaloniki – my time here has been good and as usual, God is SO faithful. As you know I have been googling churches and/or contacts left and right that I could perhaps visit while here, but really didn’t have any luck. The morning after I arrived here, I head out to walk around the water/port area, see some sights, etc. and get handed a flyer by a lady on the street. I almost grab it and keep walking, as I usually do to be polite and throw it away when I’m not longer in sight, but the words ‘Are we living in the last days’ catches my eyes. I stop and read it and realize this flyer is from a local christian church who is having a 3-day seminar with a guest pastor from Holland, and that it started that night (Thursday). I turn around and begin chatting with the lady and it turns out she is one of 4 guests from a church in Holland that came to Thessaloniki to minister to the pastor and his family here, help out with the seminar, and just spread the gospel to the people on the streets of Greece. We immediately “connect” and I realize all the amount of googling in the world couldn’t have brought me what God brought me within 2 seconds of stepping outside of my hostel. She walks me over to introduce me to the pastor and we end up chatting for a while. He is from Los Angeles, his wife from London, and had felt a call from God to come to Greece 3 years ago. They were in Athens for 2 years when God called them up to Thessaloniki and have been here for 10 months. Long story longer, I went to the service that night, met his family, and went back to their Sunday morning service this morning. We chatted for a while this morning about life in greece, some of their experiences, and the incredible difficulty it is to be a ‘missionary’ or pastor here. After talking with him for a bit and hearing of their life there, I gained an even deeper realization for why there isn’t much in terms of christian churches planted here. Within 10 months of being in Thessaloniki he has already been arrested and put in jail for 2 days for fixing a leak in their church building w/out a “permit”. The lady upstairs of them is SO hostile towards another “religion” coming in that she has verbally vowed that she will do anything to get them out. This lady is one of many they have come against. His legal trouble for this is still pending, so please pray for that. Most Sundays, the church consists of the pastor and his family. He says he just keeps plugging away knowing that this is where God wants him to be and that no matter how difficult, the people of Greece need to know Jesus. I assured him that we have a small group that is committed to lifting them up in prayer regularly. This pastor, Joe Stephens, was also able to connect me with a couple other contacts that I plan to follow up on. One, is another local church here in Thessaloniki that I didn’t have a chance to visit (just found out about it today). The pastor of this church actually owns a hostel here too and charges around 8 euro/night (SO cheap for here…or anywhere for that matter). He said this is a great option for teams coming in to minister or help out w/ a church, etc. He also gave me the contact for a pastor friend of his down in Athens as well as a friend of his in Corinth that I plan to get in touch with too, as I head south.

A couple days ago, as I was walking around lifting this city up in prayer God really showed me the importance of breaking ground in a place like this….with prayer. God was just giving me the words to pray and as I’m praying I realize that HE is moving and HE is doing a work here whether I ever physically see it manifested with my own eyes or not. This isn’t the type of place you can barge in preaching the gospel and really get the response you’re hoping for. They just simply don’t see a need for anything more than what they have. They don’t have physical and practical needs in the way some countries do, and they already have their ‘religion’ so they’re all good on all fronts. The hardness of the people I see here is exactly what I would have imagined the Pharisees to have been like. They have all the answers and to be told they need anything more is an insult. It all starts with the groundwork of prayer…it is a work that God is doing in softening the hearts and slowly opening the eyes of the people here and igniting a new found hunger for more. This is happening through prayer…LOTS of prayer. I don’t see it, I don’t know that my new pastor friend sees it yet, but it’s a matter of trusting that God is moving in our prayers and He IS doing it!

A couple things this pastor asked that we pray for:
A young local (greek) person to be saved so that they can have an “in” to reaching out and communicating better.
Ideally a translator to rise up within the church. Right now services are in english only.
Any help on locating inexpensive bibles in Greek. He said the bibles here are around 20 euros a piece and he only has a couple. This would be a pretty high expense when wanting to pass these out. He got his hands on a few New Testaments that were created when the Olympics were here. These are great because it’s in english and greek but it’s only the New Testament and he only has a couple of these left. He had heard there is a place in northern Cali that has the rest of the stash of these (for $5 bucks each) but he hasn’t been able to locate where they are. Any ideas??
And mainly, that the hardness of the hearts here would be broken and they would see their NEED for Jesus.
Sorry this is so long but I did want to try and keep you all in the loop. Thanks for your prayers and please keep them comin’!! Love you guys, Steff.

Letter 2

Hi again friends,

Just wanted to give another quick update. I fear this has the potential to get really lengthy so bear with me! Saturday morning I made my way down to Larissa and arrived last night (3 bus connections later made for a fairly long day). Needless to say, I was VERY excited to visit the church here this morning and once again, God did not disappoint. I arrived a little bit early so upon walking in, I was greeted by one of the most warm and friendly men I have ever met – pastor George. He offers me a cup of coffee and introduces me to a girl from Holland who was visiting the church for the first time too and had also arrived a little early. She is about 45 min. out of Larissa working at a hospital for medical studies for 4 weeks. She also found the church on the internet. The pastor was SO encouraged by both of our visits and by the fact that having his church on the internet has truly connected them to the outside world and has played a huge part in receiving visitors from all over the world. A young man from (and living in) Bucharest, Romania created the website for them and many of the people in the church haven’t even seen it. He actually was so moved by my random visit this morning that he asked if I would be willing to speak to the church and talk a little bit about my spiritual journey and what brought me here. I was SO happy to be able to do that! He gave me the floor this morning to tell the whole congregation about all of you and how God formed a little team to lift this country up (AND their church) and how God brought me physically to their country to just spend some time praying over it and that it is His heart to do a new work here. The body and the pastor were so touched and encouraged to hear this, so friends, PLEASE keep praying!!

The services are all in Greek, so a nice Greek man (from Canada but now living here) stepped in, sat next to us and translated the service. Pastor George preached out of Joshua and how God told the Israelites that in 3 days they would be crossing the Jordan River into the Promised Land. The big, wide, over flowing Jordan River…another instance of making the impossible possible…for the greater good of His children. Are we willing to take that step into our own personal Jordan River, moving from desert to a land filled with HIS blessings, trusting that HE will get us across? He exhorted us to identify our own personal Jordan Rivers and make a commitment to step out in faith TRUSTING that no matter the impossibilities that we see, that we can trust in HIS ability to get us across. He also gave an illustration of a famous violinist, Joshua Bell, and an experiment he did in the states a while back. He is a world-renowned violinist, famous and performing in concert all over the world for ticket prices of generally around $100/person. He goes down to the subway/metro of a city in the states (didn’t say which one), leaves his violin case open, and plays for 45 minutes. During those 45 minutes he collects a total of $32 and 7 people actually stop to watch him play for a minute. Children even attempt to stop and watch, while they’re parents, grabbing their hands, hurriedly pull them away. During that 45 minutes all but 7 people rush passed him either ignoring him altogether or throwing money in without recognizing at all who he is or truly acknowledging his talent. During those 45 minutes he is the same man playing the exact same music he performs for large audiences around the world, but everyone is far too busy to recognize. This illustration was interesting to me, because before I left for church this morning I spent a little bit of time in prayer and God gave me a picture. Jesus, looking like a normal man today, was walking through the crowds of people here, in a mall, on the streets, wherever, and NO ONE recognized Him. Everyone busily wizzed right past as though nothing was different. Regardless of His physical appearance, being Jesus Himself, I believe we as His children, would stop and recognize Him if this scenario was to actually play out. But in my picture no one did. He made it through the crowd without anyone stopping and taking a double take, or sensing anything. This is what HE desires to change for Greece.

After the service the pastor’s wife invited me (and the girl from Holland) over to their home for lunch. I kid you not…BEST meal I have had in MONTHS! Authentic home cooked Greek food…GOD is GOOD!!! And the fellowship with them and their family was such an amazing blessing…truly a GREAT afternoon! I was also able to meet a gal named Ruth in the church who is from Switzerland but has been living here, working with OM, for the last 7 years. She invited me over for breakfast tomorrow morning so I will be spending the morning (Monday) with her at her home. Again…God is SO kind and generous! She has a few great connections in Athens, her OM colleagues that are ‘stationed’ there, so I’m looking forward to hearing more about that, as I will be heading to Athens on Wed. morning.

The pastor also invited me to save my money and stay at their church. Unfortunately, I paid for my place here online and through a 3rd party site, so it is non-refundable. However, I had only made my reservation through tomorrow night so I took him up on his offer for Tuesday night. Tonight, during evening bible study at the church, he gave me a key to the church and made me feel VERY welcome to show up anytime I want Tuesday and make myself at home. Again, praise God!

God is truly doing some amazing things here in Larissa and through this family. The church congregation is filled with people from all over the world and is continuing to grow. Everyone was so warm and friendly and I immediately got such an amazing sense of the pastor and his family’s love and commitment to spreading Jesus throughout this community. In July they are having their annual evangelizing campaign where they spend 10 days evangelizing to the people of Larissa. July 19-24 they will be evangelizing in the main square and on the streets in the center of town and the 25-29 they will be hosting a backgammon tournament, ministering to all the participants and spectators ☺, as well as having children programs and reaching out to the gypsy camps. His wife, Thespina, is organizing prayer coverage throughout the month of July for this event as well as just lifting up the city of Larissa in prayer. She came around after church with a sign-up sheet for who would be willing to pray and which day. I will be praying all day July 8th for God to fully and completely have His way during this time of evangelizing and reaching out. I really wanted ‘team Greece’ to be able to be involved with this as well. ☺ If you guys can take the following days and do the same that would be amazing…I truly expect God to do a GREAT work. And how amazing is it to have people literally scattered all over the world lifting up this event to HIM.
Katie – July 15
Danijela – July 16
Spencers – July 17
Greens – July 18

I am so blessed that no matter what is going on in each one of our lives, and no matter where, that we are ALL united in HIM. Through prayer and through having ONE Father. Regardless of location, let’s come along side this church as a family and remember them with the type of prayer that doesn’t cease!

Lastly, through my new friends Ruth and Thespina, I was told of a missionary conference that will be taking place in a sea-side town called Leptokaria June 18-21. The whole church will be going as well as all the OM workers throughout Greece. Jeff Fountain, (I think the European) director of YWAM, will be one of the guest speakers as well as Karin Schutz and Chris MacGaffe (and other Greek speakers). I am stoked to be able to attend this and plan to take the train up from Athens around that time. There will be missionaries and believers from all over so I am excited to see what other connections God wants to make! ☺

Thank you so much for continuing to pray – I can feel them and am SO grateful to have bro’s/sis’ in Christ expanding my family. Love you guys and I’ll continue to keep you posted. ☺

This is what obedience looks like, a willing heart, prayer, and an open door, and God working through us for His kingdom…Please pray for Greece and for the missionaries.

Love you all in Christ Jesus,

Dani




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