Slovenia: Ministry

Here I am for the third time in Slovenia. The first time I came to Slovenia was two years ago when I first did this trip through Global Journey, the second time I came was this past fall to surprise Sarah and propose to her, and now as a leader of Global Journey.

Every time I visit Slovenia I get lost in the pure natural beauty of the land of Slovenia. From the beautiful mountains, the deep and long valleys, the rushing rivers, and the huge waterfalls. Everywhere you look is majestic. You can’t help but fall in love with Slovenia’s beauty, but in it’s beauty there is something dark. That darkness is the spirituality of Slovenia. It is a very spirituality dark country. Less than 1% of Slovenia are evangelical christians. The Slovenian people allows nature, science, and tradition be the gods of their land. They are in truly in need of a Savior and a Lord.

This time in Slovenia we got to work with two different missionaries. The first few days we worked with Jay Adcock in the city of Idrija. When we were with Jay we had the opportunity to do praying walking, street evangelism, praying in a Catholic building, hold a “church” service for a handful of believers there, and encourage the few believers in Idrijia. Then the last week we were there we worked with Joe Kelley and his family. This week half of our team walked through some towns to handed out literature to the nearby towns, and the other half rode mountain bikes to further villages to do the same. Then in the evenings of this week we had the opportunity to hangout with Slovenian children and have fellowship with them. We played a lot of games with them and led them through some worship. Then throughout the week of doing all this ministry with Joe’s family we also had the oppourtunity to do rafting and canyoning.

The missionaries we worked with had very unique ministries. Jay has moved to Slovenia a few months ago, but he plans to open and run a Crossfit gym in Slovenia. Joe shares the gospel by leading teams in extreme sports. These unique ministries had me pondering these questions:

What is ministry?
What is evangelism?
What is discipleship?
What is missions?

In our minds I’m sure we all have different but similar views to these questions. This past week in Slovenian I got to experience these things in ways that I have not seen before. Evangelism can look like being a guide for a rafting team and explaining the gospel when a team is in the middle of a river. Discipleship can be helping others in a workout gym and sharing ideas and opinions.

I believe we all have a have a picture of the answers to these questions in our heads, and I also believe we live and move by what we believe about these questions. For example, if I believe discipleship is having a bible study once a week in somebody’s home, then I’m going to limit discipleship to just that. We need stop limiting what God can do through us. Here is my blanket answer for those questions:

Do something with what you have and where you are at for the glory of God.

Paul says in Corinthians, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

Uganda

“Remember the former things, those of long ago;
I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me.
I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.”
Isaiah 46:8-10

This is the truth that Ugandans know very well. They recognize God as God. They see that He is the Creator of all things, sustainer of the universe, and in control of everything.

Most conversations I had with my fellow Ugandans always had some sayings like this: “Uganda is good, the Lord has provided me with…” or “Jesus has allowed this…” They always recognized who was in control. They recognized Jesus was in control. They understood that they are to live out God’s will, not their own will. They understood that everything is from God and on His timing.

None of these things I have talked about are new to any of us believers, but it is a truth that is hard to follow. God does not only want us to follow Him, but wants to recognize and acknowledge the one whom were following. This eliminates any notion of us being in control of our lives and allows God to do as He wills in our lives.

Glory to God for his perfect provision and providence in our lives that frees us to give up our will and allows us trust and follow His will wholly.

Uganda will always be one of my favorite countries. It’s not because of the beautiful mountains or the amazing fruit, it’s because of the beautiful people that live there. I always go to Uganda to be an encouragement to them, but I always leave being so encouraged by them. I love their love for God.

Our time in Uganda…

During the weekdays in Uganda we do a variety of labor projects for Lulwanda Children’s Home. We painted buildings, dug trenches, and file folders. Over the weekend we hiked a mountain. Then later that day we went to an hotel and swam in a pool and rested a bit. Later that night we babysat for one of the missionary families there and allow the parents to have an evening together. Sunday we went to church and had the opportunity to speak at and lead the Sunday School. Then we had lunch with that same missionary family and got to have a bacon cheeseburger and fries!! Then the rest of the day we hung out and just fellowshipped with the missionary family.

We also got to spend some time with the orphans at Lulwanda and were able to talk and play with them. I got to know a few orphans pretty well. One of the orphans I met was Yousef. He lost both of his parents to HIV/AIDS. He has spent most of his life at Lulwanda. He was a joy to hang out with and it was fun to talk about the World Cup with him.

It’s people like him that encourage me so much. I can not understand how hard it would be to follow Christ after so much devastion of losing both of his parents. How hard it must be to believe that God is a good God after so much pain. Faith like his is so beautiful and encouraging.

I share these stories to encourage you and in hopes to make you fall even more in love with Christ.

Ryan

“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”
– Hebrews 13:16

India: All Have Fallen Short

India was one of the countries that I was very excited to go to this summer. Two summers ago when I did the whole Global Journey trip for this first time, India was not one of the countries I was looking forward to. Serving and loving orphans sounded like a great thing to do, but not the most exciting for me. But after we left India two years ago you would have had to literally drag me out of that country. I did not want to leave those Indian kids. They were so young, yet they were the most servant hearted and loving people I have ever met. They were incredible, and I fell in love with those children. So, going back to those children was a dream come true. I could not wait to spend that sweet time with those sweet children again.

A couple days before the trip began our team found out that we were not able to go back to the same orphanage, but we were going to go to a different orphanage. I was a little sad about this news because I wanted to see those same kids again. But, this new orphanage also sounded exciting, and a little overwhelming because we were told they’re going to have over 600 kids there!

So, we arrived in India. After we landed, we had lunch at a McDonald’s, and then we were ready for the 13 hour bus ride to the children’s home. When we arrived at the orphanage it was really late and dark so we didn’t see any children that first day. The next day came, and after getting prepared for the day, I went outside to play soccer with some kids. I had a great time playing with them, but something was different. They just were not the same kids that I’ve been looking forward to. They didn’t act the same as the other kids. They were not what I expected.

So during the first half of our time in India I was a little stressed and overwhelmed when spending time with the kids. Most of the boys at this new orphanage spoke little to no English, and it was very discouraging not being able to communicate at all. The boys were also much different than the boys I met the first time I was in India. They were very rough boys. For example, every night we had prayer services in the evenings where some people from our team would do programs for the children. When it was a night that I was not doing the program, it was hard. Throughout the whole program I’m stopping the boys from yelling at each other, from hitting each other, and from picking on each other. This was a non-stop process. It just made me upset, to the point that I did not want to be around these kids.

Looking forward to India I created this expectation, this dream, of how the orphans were going to be and when they did not fufill that expectation, we clashed. Then one of the days in the middle of the week God reminded me of this passage, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God.” God reminded me that we are all sinners, and we are not be perfect. I expected perfect children.

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that.” Luke 2:32-34

God showed me what it really meant to love people. To love someone means not to expect something out of people. It means selflessly giving yourself to others.

These orphans are beautiful children and I did not give them a chance from the beginning. But by the end of this week God was helping me to love and to understand God’s love for us.

God is so good and I am just beyond blessed to be apart of His journey.

Ryan