On recent travels (that I am one flight away from finishing up as I type), I had the privilege to provide some training and consulting for some international church planters in the Balkans. The stories there were encouraging and I am very excited to see what God will do there in the next year(s). For those from there that may be reading this post, know that I am cheering and praying for you!
So I finished up late one night and was headed to the airport before dawn the next morning. I was exhausted and, if honest, a bit proud that I had been able to share with others some of the things the Lord had been teaching me over the past several years. Then as I ambled toward the check-in line, I saw several children with a range of birth defects in the line ahead of me. Most of the defects were facial, though there were also crippled and severely autistic children. The ethnicity of the children was Roma. These gypsies are the outcasts of Europe. Discrimination against them is not just uncommon, but is expected. Leading these approximately 10 kiddos was a Bulgarian man and several ladies. These blessed servants were giving their lives away in anonymity to the “least of these.” It was beautiful. I was both touched and humbled.
While waiting for the plane, I saw the man–who was clearly the leader of the group and respected by both the children and the adults. He was interrupted as the youngest, who was sitting in front of him in a wheel chair with casts on both legs, wildly offered an empty paper cup. As the child gestured with the cup toward the man, he immediately stopped what he was doing and took a pretend drink from the cup. The child was elated. All the kids and ladies were smiling and laughing at the antics. This Bulgarian man was teaching the ways of Christ more than anyone else ever could have that morning to those kids, the ladies, and some other observers including me.
Maybe my time in the Balkans was a blessing to some others. Certainly, it was enriching for me. I learned a good bit about the ways of Jesus.