I understand it is Tuesday, and this report covers more than the weekend. I am weary of thinking of titles for my sporadic, jumbled mess of words. If I think of anything impressive while writing, I’ll update the title for you. I don’t want my words to be read because of a catchy title. Hey, that’s kind of catchy.
Next order of business: I don’t slow down much. When I do, I try to get my thoughts down in my journal; yea, I’m keeping one of those again (I know some men who think that’s weak. I think that is foolishness, and perhaps laziness). I apologize for writing so few updates for you. Here’s one now.
Where am I, and how did I get here? I’m staying at a missions conference center on the outskirts of Brussels, Belgium. By God’s grace I made it from Concord, NC, up to New Jersey, further north by train to NYC, over the pond to Paris, and northeast by bus to the Brussels-North train station. My friend Chris and his family picked me up there on the 28th of February, and delivered me, my suitcase, and backpack, to the place I will be staying/serving over the next several weeks–the missions conference center. You’re now caught up on the physical where and how.
What has my time in Brussels consisted of, overall? Two weeks of activity. Most of my time has been spent at the missions center. I would not say this peaceful place, full of life and centered around God, is understaffed; I would also not say they are overstaffed–even the slightest. While here, I am an extra set of hands, hopefully easing some tension. These hands could be used for preparing and serving food, restocking the coffee and tea bar, the breakfast area, or the refrigerator, placing water pitchers on dining tables, washing dishes, washing more dishes, wiping down tables, and stacking or unstacking chairs depending on what is needed. These hands could be used for vacuuming bedrooms and hallways during group turnover, pulling linens, bringing dirty towels down to the laundry room, wiping down desks and countertops and windowsills, sinks and toilets, mirrors and showers. These hands could assemble a lamp from IKEA that is waiting in the box. These hands could cut the lights out that are left on in rooms where no one is present. These hands could be used while repairs are made on an exterior concrete staircase. These hands could be used to unload bags of concrete, mix and apply plaster for a kitchen renovation, remove old wiring and light fixtures, run for tools, remove bricks, clean old bricks that will be re-used, and general clean up at the end of the day.
And they have been. I’m thankful for that. An interesting observation is that almost any set of hands (some tasks requiring a strong back as well) would do. I am grateful that God has allowed and ordained for my hands to be utilized in this place at this time. There is certainly an opening in your church, at your work, in a local ministry, at home with your family, where God intends for you to be well-used, even in the seemingly menial tasks.
When is the last time you said “yes” to the call to serve? Where are you currently laying yourself down? In what ways are you saying “He must increase, I must decrease”? Do your neighbors know you love them as you love yourself? Do you love your neighbors at all? If not, what are you waiting for? Are you waiting until your schedule frees up, you have more money set aside, or until retirement? Are you waiting for the perfect opportunity that fits all of your personal desires and utilizes only the skills you wish to put to use? Are you waiting for someone to see you as important and lift you up? Friend, wait no longer. In His holiness, Jesus Christ gave his life for you. Now humble yourself.
Life abundant and slave to righteousness are not at odds with one another; they are one and the same. The slave to righteousness has found life abundant.
Die to self. Live for Christ. Join in his holiness, walk as he walked, by the strength of the Spirit. Do not confuse the desires of the flesh and the desires of the Spirit that lives within you. Do not exchange the world and all that is in it and the living Word of God; one is ephemeral, one endures forever. Choose not to leave the will of God as theoretical ideology. If you claim faith, walk it out.
My problem with sitting down and typing away on these keys is that I imagine I’m sitting at a table with you–any table will do. I imagine we are drinking coffee, and there was a good hug and a handshake at the start. The thought flutters through my mind that you may not know the Lord, or if you do, you are in desperate need of encouragement. Because of this, no matter what topic we land on, a path to Scripture or testimony, or a word of encouragement or a necessary challenge, will always be cut. Preferably in a skillful fashion, occasionally bushwhacked. I’m praying for you to know that your purpose, your full existence, hinges on Jesus Christ.
I’ve interrupted myself. I’m supposed to be giving you an update. Apart from the tiny tasks, I have also had the joy of interacting with many of the guests at the center. I’ve met people from all over the world. Missionaries working in Spain, England, Belgium, parts of the Middle East, and from back in the states. I’ve had the chance to serve some of them, answer questions, encourage some of them, and learn from many of them. I am thankful for the new friends gained.
I was thankful for a time of outreach on Saturday. I need to talk to unbelievers. I think any Christian who creates a bubble providing only Christian interaction, and always remains within it, has missed much of the Gospel. “On earth as it is in Heaven” is not ushered in by keeping to our cliques and sectoring ourselves off. They will know us by our love. I love to talk with unbelievers, because that is one of the great purposes of our time on earth. Common conversation is dull, but I love to listen and the opportunities to share. I want the lost to be found. I want for people who are perishing. I want for God to open their eyes, their hearts to receive Him, and their lives to be transformed, tuned to praising Him.
Off track again. Or is it on track again? Anyways, update. I had the opportunity to walk around the city of Brussels with 3 new friends from 3 different countries through an organization called Serve the City. We walked around with a cooler full of soup and a shopping cart full of food and water. Not the shopping cart you are imagining back at home in the states. Here in the city, you bring your own cart to the store. Since you walk there, you also must walk home with your groceries–so you pull a small cart.
We were meeting with people presumably living on the streets, having conversations, letting them know we cared, and feeding them. It was the best day of the 27 days since I left home. I had a soda in my pocket. One man asked for a soda instead of the waters we had, so I got to give him one. One lady had food, but said she is cold at night. We still gave her food, and I was able to give her the coat I was wearing (which I had recently been given at the missions center). She was thrilled. We met people who devoured the food immediately, which lets you know the need was more of a need. Others turned it down because it wasn’t what they preferred; that’s ok too. There were opportunities to talk and share with the people I was serving with, as well as those we served. At the end of the day we had a meeting to discuss how everyone had been impacted (from several of these groups), and what had been learned. This time spent with new friends was a joy.
Sunday I visited an international church (I did the same while in Paris). The South African pastor urged the congregation to wake up, referring to the start of the 3rd chapter of Revelation. It was a well thought out, challenging message. In fact, every person who makes up the church ought to hear a message like this one. After church, I intended to walk to the train station, go explore the city center (since I haven’t spent much time out and about), and then visit another church. Well, that didn’t happen. On the way to the train station, I was invited to lunch by the only neighbor I know: the chef and his family! They told me there was enough food, so I graciously entered. It was a great day. My first time ever playing Risk, eating with a Dutch family in Belgium, and being thankful for not catching the train. I was grateful for the hours of rest in their home.
So, you have a slight bit of information on what has been happening here. I could write for days, but it may not mean much. It could be mundane. Maybe it already is, in your more honest opinion. But I hope you know you are loved, by God and by me. I hope you are encouraged and challenged, and I hope you consider eternity, Jesus, and faith.