September 18, 2006

On the Road Again

Homer and his wife, Barbara, recently returned from working in the Middle East. He is now the director of planning for the Office of Adventist Mission at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. However, he and Barbara are not content to stay still for long! In July of this year they conducted evangelistic meetings in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Below are excerpts from their blog.

July 21, 2006

It is amazing how much better you feel after a good night’s sleep! We went to bed last night about 8:00 and slept soundly until after 5:00 this morning. Well, we did wake up once because of a couple of pesky mosquitoes, but we fixed them. One we squashed (it was obvious he had been allowed his last meal before being executed), and the others were driven away when we plugged in the mosquito repellent thingamabob cartridge into the outlet.
2006 1526 page16We may also have woken up briefly when we both decided to turn over at the same time. The beds are slightly smaller than a single bed, and we decided to share one. We have done it many times before, and it works fine for us. Besides, we couldn’t have stayed awake to move the beds together!
We are staying in the Kyrgyzstan Conference guest room. It is very nice, and larger than our apartment in D.C. One of the church ladies is fixing us lunch every day.
Alex, the pastor who is coordinating the meetings, spent some time with us going over the schedule, taking us to get money changed, checking prices on a Kyrgyz outfit we want to bring back, etc. Another pastor came to pick up some equipment we brought for a Bible study DVD project he is working on (thanks to a generous donation from the Yale, Virginia, church).
Then, seeing our drooping eyelids, Alex suggested we spend the afternoon resting and working on sermons and other elements for the series. That sounded good, but I didn’t get much done on the sermons. I would try, but kept falling asleep with my fingers on the keyboard. Barbara had the same problem as she tried to read or crochet. Sometimes she would drop what she was holding and wake us both up. Finally we took a walk out by the canal, got back to our room, showered, and collapsed in bed.

July 22, 2006
Between Two Thieves

“z-DRAHVS-tah-vooee-teeah.” To the best of my hearing I think that is the way to say hello in Russian. They tell me the old Russian root words actually mean “Good health.” They also tell me it is the most important word to learn in Russian, but the hardest in their vocabulary. I would agree. It is much easier to say “spe-SEA-buh,” which means “Thank you.” The old Russian roots mean “Save God.” In past years some Adventists felt pastors shouldn’t use that word, at least not in church, because it seemed somehow like taking the Lord’s name in vain. I am not sure how it came to be used as the word for thank you, and I wonder if it was used all through Communism.

Yesterday we visited the church in which the meetings will be held. When we pulled up, I remembered it from when I was here last in December, but it was nice to see it again. Alex, Barbara, and I had prayer for the people who would be attending. Yesterday morning Alex asked me to speak at the vespers meeting that night. Actually, he didn’t ask me. I saw my name on the schedule—in Russian! My name is spelled Xomep (very similar to the way it was spelled in Greek). I hope the Lord was able to use my last-minute thoughts. I guess for Him it wasn’t last-minute. He had known all along this was coming, and for some reason chose to surprise me.
The simple church is between two big, very nice, heavily fenced buildings. I 2006 1526 page16learned today that they are both owned by the same man and serve the same purpose: houses of prostitution. They have pool halls, saunas, bars, and women available. When I think about the location of this church, it reminds me of Jesus being crucified between the thieves.
People in town make jokes about the church between the two brothels. It is my prayer that our meetings will somehow touch even the lives of the people who work and visit these establishments.

July 26, 2006
A Change in Attitude

About 30 non-Adventist visitors have been coming to our meetings each night. Since they are being brought by church members, many already feel comfortable with the others attending the meetings. Both men and women, young and old, seem to be sincerely searching to know God’s will. Last night we talked about the law of God and how it is not given to restrict us, but to protect us. Everyone stood when we made the call to commit to keeping all of God’s law—not as a way of salvation, but because we love Him and trust Him enough to do what He tells us to do. Friday night we will pick up this theme again as we talk about the Sabbath. Please be praying for us.

“dos-vi-DAH-nia.” That means “See you later,” or “Until we meet again.”