This was my first mission trip that wasn’t structured on humanitarian aid or a disaster relief effort. This was to go speak with pastors/ church leaders and see how their efforts to plant churches and home groups are progressing, to exhort them as leaders and provide constructive criticism all in an effort to see the evangelical churches in Serbia grow. Prior to leaving for Serbia I found it difficult to think of specifics to pray about during the trip. So, I asked God to simply guide me and impart on me the wisdom and knowledge that he wanted me to gain from my time in Serbia. I understand that may seem generic and vague, but I had my reasons. See I didn’t want to arrive with any pre-conceived notion that I knew what needed to be done or said, I was just praying that I be obedient to God’s will and allow him to use me however He saw fit.
While on our flight to Zurich, traveling to Serbia, in a dimly lit cabin I was reading my bible and Mark 14:13-15 stood out to me. This is the story of the preparation for the “last supper” when the disciples ask Jesus where will they have the Passover supper. Jesus tells Peter and John go look for a man carrying a jar of water, then follow him to the house he enters and ask the owner of the house, and he will tell you about the upper room which is prepared. The scripture actually says “…Go into the city, and a man will MEET you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him.” The word “meet” tells me that the man with the pitcher of water was intentionally looking for the disciples, meaning he was being obedient to a command to do so. I paraphrased that to say that my desire and prayer for this trip was to carry the jar of water. Now the owner of the house had a “big role” because it was his home that the meal would take place. The disciples had a “big role” because they would prepare the room for the meal and break bread with Christ. So I decided if God wants me to take part in a “big role” then so be it, but my heart is going to be joyful just to carry the water.
I reflect back on this trip and think did I do that; did I carry the water and did I do it well? One highlight from this trip was at a home group of a couple that attends Nebojsa’s church, and they had invited a friend that was not a believer. Nebojsa asked me to share and so I read from John 3:4-8 and spoke of the spiritual rebirth. That night I witnessed Nebojsa lead that friend the couple invited, to Christ. Was that because I had a ‘big role” absolutely not. I carried the water and was obedient to God and shared the scripture He laid on my heart at that moment. This is just one example of how God can use obedience, or willingness to simply carry the water. Sometimes as Christians we put pressure on ourselves to do things, or we get frustrated when our efforts do not yield big results. I believe God uses small things, things that seem insignificant, but those things can ultimately have a huge impact on the kingdom.
As far as the “big roles” such as planting churches and raising future church leaders in Serbia, those things are happening. The translated materials and resources that Linking Partners has provided are being used and being used productively. While we were visiting with some of our partners, someone mentioned that growing the evangelical church in Serbia is “a process not an event”. I fully believe the process will continue as long as we are faithful to carry the water.