Thursday, December 09, 1999

In the Heat of the Battle

(or meeting up with the Methodist)

Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle.
Psalm 144:1
Across the room, the familiar sounds of a Southern drawl made us smile. A team of Baptist missionaries from South Carolina was enjoying their farewell dinner as we were anxiously having our introductory one. While forty people were learning about what lay ahead for them in the battlefield, a group of twenty was reveling in the miracles that had occurred during their service. Soldiers in the battlefield, in from the frontlines of Romania with the team from “Wheels for the World” as reinforcements coming in after them.

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 2 Corinthians 10:4

When faced with the overwhelming need in countries such as Russia and Romania, it is easy to get discouraged by what impact a small battalion of believers can make. Yet during that first evening in Romania we saw how mighty is the General that we serve. He is faithful to “raise up” new workers for the harvest field. Over toast and tea the next morning we met a couple from California with Campus Crusade, working with a pastor in Bucharest. We exchanged stories from the differing “fronts” we had fought on, what the challenges were ahead, and committed to pray for our individual warfronts.

Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 2:3

When the administrative team arrived in Craiova, Gheorghe Ardelean, the pastor explained he also had a group of Methodists from England coming the same week. He apologized for the time constraints that would place on him, and the spatial accommodations for our equipment would need rearranging. Knowing the difficulties that lay ahead, we started “praising God for the Methodists!” not knowing how the General was going to work this one out. We chuckled at the thought of a team of Brits, knowing He would.

He may please Him who enrolled him as soldier. 2 Tim othy 2:4

The team from Manchester, England arrived to distribute humanitarian aid for the local orphanages. While the group appeared with the best “proper English” style, they endured with laughter, smiles and brought a fresh face of joy to those of us “from the colonies.”

And how did our General “work out” the circumstances? At the last minute one of the English team members was unable to make the journey, he called to ask if another of the husbands would be willing to take his place. Penny Bennett was sure her husband Tom would say “no”. Surprisingly when she asked, he replied he would see if it was possible to take the time off from his government job (inwardly knowing he probably had no chance of being let off on such short notice). Much to everyone’s surprise, he was given permission to accompany the group.

On their first day out in Craiova, he realized orphanages were really not “his thing”. As he spoke with Jim Cowart our wheelchair Mechanical Guru, he relayed that he had been stopped at the airport because he had forgotten a pair of pliers in his coat pocket! Voila! We desperately needed an extra hand helping to repair and fit the 108 wheelchairs, now we “praised God for the Methodist” in earnest.

What started out to be a “strain” on our distribution, ended up being one of the delightful blessings. The Lord brought two teams of people, with very different “fronts to fight” to work alongside one another.

We may never see our English reinforcements this side of heaven, but we are assured in the coming Kingdom the fellowship we’ll share as we sit with the former “veterans” of Romania we were privileged to meet. The South Carolina Southern Baptists, the California Campus Crusaders and last but certainly not least the Manchester Methodists!

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called 1 Timothy 6:11-12