Hard to Figure
Who would have thought! A volcano crippling most of Europe and beyond. My first inkling came as our flight to France on Wednesday, April 14, took almost 1 ½ hours longer than expected. The captain came on the plane’s intercom to inform us that we were running late because our flight had been rerouted due to the eruption of the volcano in Iceland, and the volcanic ash it was shooting into the air. My thought? “If that’s a made-up story, he came up with a good one.”
Of course, shortly after landing we learned the magnitude of the ash problem, and soon airports all over Europe were shutting down. When I learned that Charles de Gaulle (CDG) Airport was closed, I began to scramble, since I was to fly to Vienna on Sunday for a meeting with Christian broadcasters from the Balkans. All but one of our group were flying to Vienna for the two day meetings. I began to look into taking a Paris-Vienna train to get me there. Twelve to fifteen hours on the train wasn’t too exciting a thought, but it would be worth it for our planning meeting for the coming Balkans Training Initiative this fall.
But soon we heard that the Vienna airport was closed, and those heading to Vienna found their flights were canceled. And thus, the meeting was canceled. We’ll regroup soon for our planning time with our Eastern European friends, and pray this volcano will go to sleep for a while.
In FranceWe…NRB President Dr. Frank Wright and I… have come to France to learn. To hear from Christian media people what is happening, what struggles they face, and see if there are ways NRB members can help. A three-hour meeting Saturday in Paris was exciting, as we visited with dedicated servants from many different facets of media, broadcast, Internet, and writing, who shared their experiences, dreams, and struggles.
I will stay on through the weekend for a meeting of other French Christian broadcasters where I will both listen and speak. More on that later.
Of course, NRB may be opening a branch office in Paris if the ash cloud doesn’t dissipate and planes don’t take to the air. There aren’t a lot of options on getting from Europe to the US if planes don’t fly. Checking on ships heading to the US revealed that voyages take anywhere from 8 to 50 days! The longer ones are freighters that only take about 12 passengers. I could not only read a book or two…I could write a couple in that time!
As lovely as Paris is in the spring, there is no place like home. We pray that the air will clear and we can wing our way to the US in a timely way.
Reflections on God’s ServantsShe is young…24 or 25 years old. I first noticed her at a meeting of station managers and broadcasters from the Asia Pacific area. I was speaking to them about how special they were…that God had called them to this work…and that no matter how difficult it might seem, the Lord was with them. As I spoke, this young lady began to dab at her eyes. There were tears flowing.
I shared with the group what God was doing in other parts of the world. I talked of places like Albania, Bolivia, and Sweden, where dedicated servants like themselves were making a difference in places where it is hard to be an evangelical Christian. More tears.
When I had finished speaking and we had prayed, some came up to thank me for speaking and sharing God’s Word with them. This young lady made her way to the front. Though the tears had stopped, the eyes were still red. I was touched by whatever was going on in her life and ministry. The “father” in me wanted to bring a bit of comfort, so when this young girl stepped up to speak, I gave her a little hug.
Later, talking with the leader of the ministry, I asked about the young girl. I’ll call her Lea, though that isn’t her name. (And because of the sensitive nature of her work and calling in her culture, I won’t specifically identify where she serves.) My friend told me Lea was a station manager for one of his stations in the midst of a large Muslim population. Her work is hard.
She is limited in what she and her staff can say on the air. There are at the least implied reprisals for going beyond these limits. Yet she serves.
At a conference a day or two later I had a chance to talk with Lea. I found out that she is actually an architect, not a trained broadcaster. But she and her father felt the Lord calling them to establish a Christian radio station in their area. Through trials and tribulations…including losing about $40,000 in a license scam…they got on the air. This young girl, with no formal broadcast training, has a staff of five or six who are doing what they can to tell others about the love of God through Jesus Christ, His Son.
And what can they do? Lea shared that with me one day. With quivering lips and a soft voice she said, “I can tell them about God, and His goodness…about God’s creation, and His love. And I can tell the listeners if they want to know more about God’s Son, Jesus, they can come to a meeting where we will talk about that.”
Hindu, animist, Muslims, and others show up at these gatherings and hear about Jesus, His life and death, and the hope we have when we invite Jesus to be the Lord of our life. Some listen with interest. Some ask questions. Some make the most important decision of their life, and ask Jesus into their heart.
I wish I could show you Lea’s picture. That wouldn’t be helpful to her. But in seeing it, you would notice two things. First you would see a young girl, slight in stature physically. But you would also see a servant who is strong in her resolve, passionately in love with her Savior Jesus…so much so that she would risk much to serve Him.
Coming away from these encounters, I am always humbled. I often question myself. What would I do under those circumstances? Would I be so strong? Would I, at such a young age, have such a driving passion that I would serve Him in spite of hardship or danger? Would I step out into a ministry for which I was not trained and lead others to impact their culture?
This girl I am calling Lea is now a Facebook friend. It allows me from time to time to let her know I am praying for her. That she is not alone. That along with the Lord, who promises to never leave her, there are others praying for her. A few days ago I got a response from her over Facebook. She said in her limited English, “…thank you so much to pray for me...it makes me rise up.”
Could I tell her you are praying for her, too? Drop me a quick email at email@example.com and just say, “I’m praying for Lea.” I’ll pass it on to this young girl. And then we can see what God will do as He raises up one of His choice servants to tell His Good News to folks living in darkness.
And…along the way… if God puts it on your heart to support what we are doing to encourage these great Christian broadcasters around the world, you can send a check to NRB and put Partnership on the memo line. You’ll be helping with our travel expenses and other administrative costs to encourage and strengthen Christian broadcasters around our globe. And you’ll have an even greater hand in touching lives like Lea’s, making a difference for the kingdom of God.
You can mail a check to:
9510 Technology Dr.
Manassas, VA 20110
By the way...as of this writing, we are still in France. Prayer for safe and timely travel for Dr. Wright and I will be appreciated.
Sr. VP for Strategic Partnership
National Religious Broadcasters
Direct (817) 446-7898
NRB Office (703) 330-7000
Cell (214) 912-7658