I learned many things during the week I spent in training before heading into Slovakia to work with the Roma (gypsy) people. Our days were filled with sessions, workshops, and both group and individual Bible studies. But the unintentional, unscheduled lessons impacted me the most.
July 12, 1999
The missions training conference was being held at Deák Ferenc Gimnázium, a bilingual high school in Szeged. Across the road from the school was a forest.
I followed a tiny dirt path through the trees, swatting at spider webs and pushing branches out of the way. All around were graves. Most of the markers were broken, the dense undergrowth creeping through the cracks and crevices. The names and dates on the tombstones were, for the most part, obliterated.
Although I didn’t see any, I read later that, in some places, human bones lay exposed on the forest floor.
This was Gyevi Cemetery.
“What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (James 4:14)
I paused for a moment in front of row of crosses that were partially hidden by the undergrowth. I want to leave behind so much more than a crumbling, ivy-covered gravestone, I thought.
As I made my way back to the school, I realized something: Only the things that we do for Jesus will last.
“After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9)
Several hundred young adults were crowded into the hot auditorium. Among them were people from Australia, Britain, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Hungary, Romania, the United States, Hong Kong, Korea, and Finland …
…as well as a couple of Canadian guys …
… and one Canadian girl.
The training sessions were done in English and there were many interpreters.
But what struck me the most was worship.
Who His love will not remember?
Who can cease to sing His praise?
Each person sang the words in his or her own language. Every nation, every tongue, joined together in perfect harmony.
It was a taste of heaven.
On July 17, 1999, I finally entered Slovakia.
Click here to read Part 4 – “Once Upon a Summer: Welcome to Slovakia”