Wednesday, April 13, 2011
A long time since I posted and one of the delays was the result of a wonderful trip to Europe with a number of our pastors and some of the staff from the Conference Office. About 42 of us, including spouses, landed in Berlin, the morning of March 24 and spent the next ten days visiting some incredible places in Germany, Austria, Bavaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovokia.
I won't bore those of you who hate travelogs but the purpose of our trip was to visit the lands of the Reformation and the highlight of that focus was our day and a half in the village of Wittenburg, where Martin Luther lived and ministered most of his life.
The Bavarian town of Salzburg, the village where the 'Sound of Music' events took place and where much of the movie was filmed, was also a favorite, surrounded by snow-capped mountain peaks and an enormous mountaintop castle that overlooks the town.
One of the impressions which was very vivid to me throughout our tour was the age and history of the places, buildings, and events that define these countries. In the U.S., we think of history in terms of 2 to 3 hundred years and only a very few buildings and sites remain from our colonial birth. In Budapest Hungary, we traveled streets where buildings dating from the 16th century are still occupied and I marveled at the ancient stone chapel on the Bavarian Island of Herrinchiemmsse. This chapel, pictured above, is adjacent to the site of a very old monastery which now houses a museum. The Augustinian monastery itself dates to the 1500's and the chapel was built in 1462! The presence of Christian missionaries on the island dates to the first third of the 7th century! Clearly, the Gospel had gone far and wide within a few short centuries after Christ ascended.
Tragically, the presence of Christianity in much of Europe today is evidenced only in beautiful, old, but empty churches. In most countries, only 2 to 3% of the population are identified as Christians with growing populations of Islam. For most of the populace, there is no formal commitment to Religion.
As we left the city of Prague, David Hartman and I prayed with our group as we drove away, asking God to work in and through his people, however small their presence, to win the lost to Christ. What a challenge!
I'm linking some pictures of our trip for those interested; take a look, you may see someone you know, or some sites you've never visited, but will enjoy!
Heres a link to a few pictures contributed by my wife, as well as Latonya Schmidt and perhaps others: you'll have to copy and paste . . .
Grace in the day . . .