Book ends

Only eternity lasts forever, everything else has a beginning and an end. We enjoy a good movie, book, or TV series and wish the story would go on and on. We go on vacation and enjoy it so much we begin to dread the day we know we must head home. We meet an old friend for dinner and talk for hours, but eventually we have to say see you later.

We wish our children would stay young and stop growing up so fast, but they do. They do grow up and launch into the world, starting their own adventures, their own chapters in life, their own stories with beginning and middles and endings.

The story of the Bible school in Martin Slovakia began as a dream, a vision for a better future decades ago. The country and surrounding regions were a spiritual desert, poor in Jesus.

As seven churches shared about their connection with mission work in Slovakia one mentioned having to continually defend their involvement to their constituents- citing how all of their other foreign missions were poverty (economic) based. Apparently the constituents did not see Slovakia as poor or needy. I love that God has led His people to minister to those who are poor in Spirit, not only poor in the pocket book.

After the graduation last week I was able to talk with one of the graduates I recognized as being a prominent student at the high school camp the Go Team put on last year [Big shout out to Erika for all of the work she does in that space!!!]. I asked him what he would do now that this chapter of his life was closing.

He eagerly shared his plans with me over the next several minutes. I am going to be married soon to the love of my life. We will go to America where my wife will study at (an ivy league) university. I will find a job to help support her until she is done, and then she will find work and help support me when I go to school in a few years. What will you study? I will go to seminary, I want to return to Slovakia to be a pastor, a long term goal. And then he beamed as he added, this is how Bohdan did it when he became a pastor.

As part of the celebration they paraded pre-schoolers out on the stage who proudly (and loudly) sang – in English! – The B-i-b-l-e yes that’s the book for me, I stand alone on the Word of God…..and, This Little Light of Mine I’m gonna let it shine…all over Slovakia. (Yes, they were very cute. It was precious).

Later, as I reflected on these moments I imagined the graduate, not all that many years ago, a preschooler on stage singing with gusto. And now a few chapters later, planning on starting a family, being trained as a pastor, and returning to minister to his neighbors in his homeland.

As part of Pastor Matt’s farewell to us in Slovakia he mentioned his own chapter as senior pastor of New Heights coming to a close. And then he said something that struck me, “People come and go but the mission stays”. The chapters keep changing but the eternal story is the same.

Each time I have returned to Slovakia to be a part of the mission I’ve been blessed to see how God has continued writing His eternal story on the hearts of His people. Each person an integral part – a word, a sentence, a paragraph, a chapter, or even several chapters – of His story as a whole, incomplete without it.

I still love a good story, and wish they would go on, and on, but I’m more likely now than ever to look forward to chapters closing and new ones beginning. Maybe it’s because I’ve learned to trust The Author of the eternal story more and more.

The End (until the next one)