“After leaving them, Jesus went up on a mountainside to pray.” (Mark 6:46)
July 23, 1999
11:00 p.m. CET
Banska Bystrica, Slovakia
It was Sunday morning. The missions team filed up the narrow mountain path just outside of town. We reached an alpine meadow and sank down into the grass to catch our breath.
It was the view, not the climb, that left us breathless. The city was spread out in the distance, miles and miles away. All around us, wildflowers bobbed their brightly coloured heads. Crickets chirped softly and a lazy bumble bee moved from flower to flower. The sun shone, the clouds were puffy and white, and a gentle breeze carried the sweet smell of wild lavender mingled with the slightly more acrid scent of ashes from a shepherd’s fire. It was nothing short of glorious.
One of the team members strummed his guitar and we began to sing. Then one of the missionaries led us in a Bible study. This was church.
We just finished communion. There is something very magnificent about having communion on a mountain with fellow believers who you have grown very close to.
In Slovakia, shepherds and cowherds still roam the mountains with their flocks and herds. They are tough, wild-looking men with dark leather faces. I’m sure they must get lonely as they wander the high pastures with only their animals for company. But as I broke bread with the missions team in that beautiful alpine meadow, I decided that those weather-beaten mountain men were, quite possibly, the luckiest people in the world.
(To be continued…)