Then we went to Macedonia.
I should mention that Pastor Mike Hintz stayed behind the rest of the leadership team for a couple of days. If you ever have the opportunity to travel with Pastor Mike, do it. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
We talked with Mike after the team left about going somewhere, but we weren’t sure where God was pointing us. Then we met Gale (pronounced Gah-lay), and we watched the door to Macedonia swing wide open.
Mike talked to us about “kairos moments.” Kairos is an ancient Greek word that means “time.” But interestingly, the Greeks had two words for time: “chronos” and “kairos.” Chronos is time in sequential order (chronological), whereas kairos means “the right, critical, or opportune time.”
Kairos is what has characterized our time here. Last year, I wrote a blog about “showing up and remaining,” and how difficult it was to stay each moment without feeling ultra productive all the time. It was a hard-won lesson: that my value doesn’t stem from what I’m doing, but rather who I am in Christ.
This year, the chronos – the minutes, hours, and days – feel much less significant. I don’t feel the need to fill every minute with some self-validating activity. My heart is set on kairos moments – looking for God’s hand in specific, right, opportune times.
Traveling to Macedonia on Monday (with like 12 hours notice) definitely fit that category.
Mike said he had the sense that we would experience kairos moments in one way or another every day, and he was definitely right.
Riding in the car with Gale and hearing his heart for Skopje was so incredibly validating. Without knowing Kurt or me at all, he spoke about a vision God had given us last year in Skopje. In tears, I listened as God confirmed His voice to me. And I asked forgiveness for ever doubting.
I felt a burden lift from my shoulders. It was as if I had been carrying the weight of a dream, but as soon as I heard that God had spoken to someone else about it and given them understanding and a heart to see it through, the weight lifted. Whether or not Kurt and I are a part of what God wants to do in Skopje became much less important than the willingness of someone on the ground to get it done.
And that was on the car ride there. ;P
While in Skopje, Gale took us to a super-old orthodox chapel which is now (again) part of a monastery. (Super-old is my official historical term. Please extend some grace for all my misuse of these words – I’m still learning so much.)
They have been uncovering Byzantine-era (?) artwork and motifs (?) within the chapel that were breathtakingly stunning. These paintings communicated stories from the rich and complex history of the church, including 40 martyrs who were killed not far from where we stood.
We got the opportunity to meet with Peter, a novice monk who was one of the brotherhood assigned to this monastery. We listened as he talked about part of his research, which was to uncover original writings from this particular monastery, dating back to the 11th century.
I was overcome with emotion as I envisioned the work of faithful and dedicated Christians over the past 2,000-ish years to carry the truth of the gospel forward for the next generation. Sure, some of them got off track at points and wandered into the weeds at times, but they lived in a world where following Jesus cost everything. And they did it anyway.
I thought about my own faith – about how I live in a country where it costs basically nothing to be Christian. I have literally a dozen (maybe more) Bibles in my house in varying translations. I have multiple services from a hundred different churches to choose from on any given weekend. I have podcasts and YouTube videos and theology lectures at my fingertips. And yet there have been times in my life when I’ve been starving and just too stubborn or distracted to look to the Bread of Life.
I thought about how my culture is worried that following Jesus means giving up things like alcohol or rated R movies or weekend fun, when these cultures are worried that following Jesus means giving up family ties or generational inheritances or their lives.
My culture is walking out of church because they don’t like how loud or how lame the music is, when these cultures are singing hymns in prison dungeons or scrambling to find a copy of the liturgy that was burned when foreigners took over their land.
My culture is arguing over the nit-picky details of how to do this or that religious rite, arguing over the semantics of two words in the book of Romans, and arguing over civil-rights verses morality, when these cultures are desperate for a grace-based gospel message that isn’t lost in translation.
I mean. Really.
We need to get some perspective.
Sorry. It’s true. ❤
Anywhoooooooooo… God’s doing a lot of things – not just in the Balkans, but obviously in my heart as well.
Ugh I swear I’m not always this intense. Just Monday through Saturday. And sometimes on Sundays.
I could tell so many more stories, but suffice (it) to say Macedonia was great. We talked with key leaders about the future of the church in Skopje, what role Lifegate could possibly play, and what that could look like.
We leave it in God’s hands for now, but darn I love that city. I love this whole region, truly.
It was also super nice to get away with Kurt for a couple of days. Thanks to Maddie for staying with the 4 kids for 3 days. She did amazingly well with them!
We have 15 more days here! I’m excited to see what God will do, and in the meantime, I’m just soaking up the space to pray, dream, and prepare for my new teaching gig in the fall!
Love you all, thanks for joining us on our journey!
To read from the beginning of our 2018 trip, start here: