Posted: March 14, 2015 in Uncategorized
Note: These are my reflections, Curt Harris – CLA Missions Director
Today, like many days with a team, we have mixed feelings. A feeling of having stepped away from the norm to walk into a world much different than ours. Yet, one area that is always the same: the need to fill a God-sized hole in the heart of man. Tonight we are sitting in the iHeart Cafe in Thessaloniki, Greece listening to Eric Stump. Eric was mentored by Tony and Jamie @ CLA during his high school years and then via long distance when Eric was at Southeastern University. Today, Eric is being polished and trained to be a true world changer. It is the Eric Stumps of this world that makes what we do @ CLA worth all the effort. Thanks, CLA for wanting to pour into this generation!
This team was not one of brick and mortar, but of knowledge, challenged and expanded worldviews. This team, having never had a true team meeting due to weather and schedules, has been one of the best. Their hearts are open, their minds have been given much to consider and they have sought God. Was it our time on Cyprus walking in an 11th century church that is now a Mosque? Hearing the call to Islamic prayer? Or taking the time to spend listening to the still strong voice of the most Holy God? It is these life experiences that help put guideposts into our lives.
For me in the last 25 days, I have been home for 6. Yet in the 19 days that I have been gone, all of them have been to expand my worldview, celebrate what God is doing and know that God has His mighty hand on the next generation. From where I sit, it is critical to embrace this generation of world changers.
So tomorrow we leave with our God given assignments to: Love God, Love People and Change the World. Thanks, CLA, for investing in these lives and those that are yet to come to faith in Jesus.
See you soon
Be Humbly Dangerous
Posted: March 14, 2015 in Uncategorized
Thursday and Friday of this week, our group had the opportunity to fly to Cyprus and explore the country. Cyprus has been placed on the hearts of many of the missionaries working in Greece, and this trip was a chance for us to walk the streets and listen to what God is planning for the country.
Cyprus is the only country in the world that has a capital city divided by border control. While Turkey is the only country that actually recognizes the northern part of the capital as an independent country, the cultural divide was very evident as we walked the streets. One stamp of the passport and we went from Europe to the Middle East in only a few steps. The northern part of the city is primarily Muslim, and we had the unique opportunity to stand in an old orthodox church converted to a Mosque as the city announced the call to prayer. The building that once had stained glass windows and crosses has now been gutted in worship to Allah. The need for Jesus was overwhelming in that moment, and it was the prayer of the whole group for restoration and revival in the north.
The second day of our trip, we were able to explore the areas Tony and Jamie have been considering for their next plant. We walked the campus of a local university and were able to pray over the building and students as we listened to what God was speaking in our hearts. We believe God has exciting things in store for Cyprus, and it is our prayer that the Holy Spirit fills the country and places the right people, places and opportunities in front of those called. In Paul’s (Saul’s) time, Cyprus was a place of the Lord and we pray it will be again.
Posted: March 13, 2015 in Uncategorized
Today’s focus was on a topic that can be hard to talk about. Human trafficking is not a pleasant subject but is a very real part of the world today, both in Europe and America.
We started the day in the coffee shop with a presentation by Aris who works for A21, an organization with a many fronts approach to confronting human trafficking. Aris shared some of the real heart breaking stories such as when financial hardship for a family will cause them to decide to put a family member into prostitution because they feel they have no other options. Aris described that, as a business, there is money to be made by those who control these ladies, and the risk of the men in charge being caught is very small. A21 is working both sides of this issue. They are informing people of the horrible dynamics of the human trafficking industry and trying to minimize the demand for women to be used in this way. They are also working with police and law making authorities to make the penalties stronger.
Our team was charged to participate in two different marketing campaigns. We went to a busy market square, put black tape over our mouths to symbolize those caught in human trafficking who cannot speak for themselves, then handed out informational brochures.
The second campaign involved posting stickers all over the city that had a rescue number that can be used by girls who want to escape from their situation. As they posted these stickers, team members were praying for wisdom about where to place them and for women to be able to find an escape from what they are doing. This was a bit of a heavy topic, and we were honored to be a small part of the solution. Feel free to go to http://www.A21.org to learn more.
Our day was not intense the entire time. We enjoyed crepes in the morning and had a taverna lunch (similar to a Lancaster County family style restaurant). We also visited Renew Boutique, the consignment shop Jamie has founded. This is a clothing store that hires women who have been rescued. It trains them on job skills and how to find a new way of life.
Thanks for the prayer support as we continue to walk on the streets of some of the earliest believers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Posted: March 11, 2015 in Uncategorized
On Tuesday we went to the Roma camp, aka Gypsies. This was a different experience from our time in Slovakia, however the issues remain the same. The Roma are a people who are not included in ANY society. They are seen as a lesser people group, yet Jesus died for their sins as well.
The children are looking for attention, be it good or not so good. We enjoyed connecting for the short visit to the camp. Jump rope, rock painting, soccer and a Frisbee are great tools to connect. We finished with two Bible stories. We came away, thankful to share what God has put into our hands.
We were also able to visit one of the older Orthodox churches in town. What a beautiful place! Our hearts were broken as we watched the saints of the church bow down and kiss icons of the church with much the same reverence as that for Jesus. To God be all the glory and to Him alone those of us who serve Him bow down.
We finished the day with a great supper followed by a time of praise, worship and prayer. This was a day we will not soon forget.
Posted: March 10, 2015 in Uncategorized
The day started with a group breakfast and orientation by the iHeart Cafe crew. Schedules were handed out and plans were established. Today (Monday) we were directed to step out of our comfort zone and talk with the local college students. We were split into groups of three; couples were broken up and friends were separated. We had what I would consider two goals:
1st: Start a conversation and just converse with them about their culture, college life, etc.
2nd: Invite them to the Girl’s House for a game night with the iHeart Cafe crew and our Young Adult Team.
Upon everyone’s return, conversation consisted of the experiences each group had. It was a great time of fellowship and team bonding. At 6:30 PM, the group headed out to the Girl’s House for a night of games. It was a great night! The iHeart Cafe group was in fine form playing host and providing a relaxing atmosphere. Games were played well into the night.
To God be the Glory
Posted: March 9, 2015 in Uncategorized
It’s Monday and we are getting started. We walked a few blocks to one of the buildings that houses the women’s ENGAGE students (http://www.engagemylife.com/locations/greece). Our team orientation was well planned and communicated.
We were given training on how to engage students at the University. Once the training was completed, we went to lunch and then off to the campus. Many of our team reported great interaction. We have a pizza party tonight at 7:00 and several invitations were accepted.
We are also enjoying getting to know some of the students at iHeart Cafe.
Tonight it will be the main stay of anyone who has gone to college, pizza.
Tomorrow, we go to the Roma camp. This will be interesting!
Posted: March 8, 2015 in Uncategorized
Well, we have arrived after an uneventful flight from Washington Dulles to Istanbul, Turkey and on to Thessaloniki.
Our team is ready for a great day on Monday with pictures to follow.