I travel, usually at least a couple times a year, to various conferences related to my ministry. This year I’ve been to meetings to coordinate with other technology leaders and a large meeting for everyone in our organization who works in an operations role. That’s all the finance, communications and technology people to give a few categories. I’ve been to a number of countries and I can tell you a little bit about each but what I have a stronger sense of is that conference rooms are pretty much the same the world over. I catch myself sitting in meetings and it strikes me, “Behind those curtains could be a window looking out on Thailand, Ethiopia, Turkey or the US and this room would be just the same.” Function drives design. I have a pretty good collection of name badges that I’ve built up over the years.
Of course the best thing about the meetings is the people and the opportunity to work together. Here’s a little sign on a table from my last conference. I had to blur one name out for security reasons but they represent people I’ve learned to appreciate on so many levels.
I’m not crazy about the logistics of getting from one point on the globe to another. Flying is amazing in what it can do, but it’s tough on the body and mind. And being away from the family is never fun or easy. But at the end of the day important work gets done and I get to do it alongside some amazing people. Sometimes it’s people from all over the world, sometimes it’s coworkers from the part where my efforts are focused. I don’t have a ton of exciting pictures when I do one of these trips. Who wants to see a bunch of people sitting around talking? And it’s usually impossible to get a photo of more than a couple people without catching someone who shouldn’t have their picture on the web. (God’s doing amazing things and the enemy is active trying to fight it. It’s a great time to be in missions, but great care is required.)
Thanks for being a part of putting me at the tables where all this work happens.
Keszthely, Hungary is the control center if you will, for huge amounts of ministry going on in various parts of Hungary and a number of other countries this summer. If you aren’t familiar with Hungarian pronunciation, your first question may be how to properly say Keszthely – or maybe you aren’t asking but just saying it wrong :)
In Hungarian the letter “e” is always pronounced like a short e in English. K is the same. “sz” sounds like an English “s”. “T” is the same as well so the first half is pronounced “Kest” No sweat.
In Hungarian “J” and “LY” are pronounced like an English “y”. The “h” is the same – so the second half sounds like “hay”. Run that together and we get “Kest-hay”. (The second “e” sounds different because it is in front of the “ly” – this is the only case (vowels in front of “j” or “ly”) that I know of where a letter’s sound changes.
If you want to know more about the town itself, Here is a link to the wikipedia article on Keszthely. It is a very nice town right on Lake Balaton, a major summer vacation destination for Hungarians and many other people from all over. Tourism is a big part of Keszthely though there are also many people who live here year round. We hold our English camp at a catering, tourism and commerce school – VSZK.
The English camp happens right on the campus with campers and most staffers living in the dorm. We have classes here, and use the field and basketball courts outside. The beach is a short walk from the school and so is the downtown of Keszthely. It’s a great location.
At the same time the English camp is happening (with primarily American’s working) many of our Hungarian staff form up teams and head out into Keszthely and other towns aroung lake Balaton to share Christ with people that they meet. We’ve also sent out other teams to help run similar camps in Slovakia, Albania, Romania and Siofok, Hungary.
All 5 of us are arrived in Keszthely, Hungary on the 28th of June. We will be here until the 29th of July. We are participating in the Speak Out! project that is being run by the Hungarian ministry. It is a huge project that involves many staff from a number of countries. Keszthely (say it like kest-hey) is a sort of central command for a number of activities. We have people who have come from the US (and Americans who already live in Hungary) to work the English camp. The camp takes place over 3 weeks with about 120 new Hungarians coming each week to learn English from native English speakers. Each of them will hear the gospel multiple times.
We also have a large number of Hungarians here working as staff. They will be going out to the beaches and town to share the gospel. They will also visit other towns around Balaton, including another project that will be run in Siofok. Other Hungarians will be going to Slovakia, Romania and Albania to do outreaches there. It’s an exciting time to be a part of this huge evangelistic opportunity.
Since we’ve arrived we’ve been focused on getting ready. Ingrid and I each have groups of young people that we are discipling. We are helping them learn how to share their testimony and share the gospel. Once campers start to arrive, we will help them be English tutors and witnesses to the Hungarian campers. We covet your prayers as we take part in transforming Hungary and by extension, the world. Here are a couple short, rough video clips (I just grabbed them with my phone) of our worship time together.
I spent just a few days in Moldova last month. I was there with two of my co-workers to help the Moldovan staff set up software to aid their ministry through leading with information. The visit was brief, it did not take us long to configure the system, train the staff and turn everything over to them. I look forward to seeing how God uses this tool to help them be more effective in ministry and ultimately to see more people come to know Christ.
I’m going to guess that many of our American friends don’t know a whole lot about Moldova. It is a small country and one of the poorest in Europe. You can read a lot about the country at Wikipedia. It is safe to say that their years under the Soviet Union were not good, as was the case for many countries in our area. They have struggled to recover since the people once again regained the ability to have a say in how their country is run.
While Moldova is not a rich country, the people I met there were very warm and kind. Our training time was a lot of fun, being around young people who are very motivated to reach the world with the knowledge that God has a plan for their lives.
The video below is a little old – but the content is still very relevant and it should give you a good idea of what is going on with New Life Moldova.
I feel a little silly at this point, talking about the importance of mobile technology and the role it plays and will play. A few years ago I felt a bit like it was still “out there” and not totally known. I often found myself telling people “soon…” Quicker than I could have imagined even myself, soon has arrived. But I guess it never hurts to remind oneself of the fundamental realities that shape the landscape. What got me thinking about it, specifically today was a report the CEO of Sony Ericsson gave on the status of the company. One simple statement I think says it all, “We will continue to invest in the smartphone market, shifting the entire portfolio to smartphones during 2012.”
I used to say, “Some day all phones will be smartphones.” If you are a Sony Ericsson customer, that some day is just months away. More people have accessed the web via the phone than other methods for years now. So even someone as dense as I am could put this together.
The practical ramification is that it is now possible to reach more people than ever before with the Gospel. But if we want to take full advantage of the internet we need to do it by making sure our content works well on mobile devices. If we do that, we can get Christ’s redemptive message in front of people world wide, 24-7.
When I was a kid Sunday School teachers used to ask, “Who was the fastest runner ever?” The right answer was Philip, based on the account of him meeting up with the Ethiopian eunuch. The world’s fastest runner bit was fun when I was a kid, but I don’t think that’s what the text actually says. But right now, we can be virtually alongside a person riding high speed rail in china, a young person with no hope or framework for hope on a ferry in Scandavia, or any number of other people the world over.
This is an unparalleled time because as quickly as the powers of the world move to close the doors of communication and control the message, new doors open. And right now, just like it was two thousand years ago the harvest is ready and we just need to step out into the fields. If you’re on our team, thanks for stepping out with us. If you aren’t – I’d encourage you to join in. It’s exciting what God is doing.
Immigration called and we are supposed to pick up our residence permits next week – which is awesome. Thank you to everyone who prayed – it made a difference. Not only will this make my travelling to Thailand possible but it also will allow us to get back a deposit we had to give to customs to bring in our container when we moved. Good day.