AUSTRIA--David (the solo journey)
It is Monday morning in Millstat, Austria. Yesterday (really the last two days) were a blur of International travel. On Friday evening I made it to NYC and stayed in Manhattan, then Saturday morning left early for the airport and headed for Salzburg, Austria through Istanbul because I took Turkish Airlines. I got quite ill on the plane and the most likely cause was dehydration, though I did drink water beforehand and have never experienced that before. I lost consciousness in my seat for a while after blacking out, and then it took a while to regain my strength. One thing that the Lord did through that scare was to increase my prayer and dependence on Him, and to remind me that the Christian mission really is a life or death situation, not always physically, but always spiritually. These dear brothers and sisters who I have the privilege of encouraging are more visibly on the “front lines” of this battle, while I am behind the front. Each has its dangers, and each is important.
Despite my illness, I was able to make some progress with reading for my seminary course in June, one of the things I had planned on doing while traveling. I am reading a book about how worship should propel us into a life of mercy and care for the weak and outsiders, and it is a nice topic to be thinking deeply about while traveling among places where there are more visible and felt needs than in the Franklin, TN area. In the Salzburg train station I was asked for help paying for a train ticket to Munich, something that regularly happens in America. And, like in America, I always want to be willing to help but NOT by giving cash. So I ended up buying the man a cup of coffee. I did not get a chance to share the gospel with him, but prayed for him. I sense the Lord widening my peripheral vision to the needs of others and increasing my compassion, which has been a wonderful asset in leading worship so far.
While waiting for the train in Salzburg, I met up with about a dozen missionaries attending this conference, which made traveling a bit easier, especially since I slept hard on the train. I’m sure I would have missed my stop since I was so jet-lagged. Yesterday evening I had dinner and started getting to know the guests, then we had an evening session. The 40 or so people who gathered were eager and ready to sing, and sang with great volume and faith. They were leading me as much as I was leading them! Since I wasn’t given any guidance as to the types of songs to choose, I started with time-honored hymns, and was rewarded by familiarity and much gratitude. Hymns are precious to many saints who have been around for decades, but depending on their context, they may not get to sing them often with a group of people who know them well. I have no idea how long we sang since I lost myself in the time, but even though we “went long” no one seemed to mind at all. This is the kind of worship leadership that is particularly a joy – when those gathered are ready, eager, and focused on the Lord. And I’m grateful that they were able to lead me since I was so sleep-deprived!
The weather has so far been rainy and overcast, which was a disappointment because the train ride was so scenic. The castle is amazing, and has an incredible view of a large lake and mountains behind it (which I can barely see the bottoms of so far). I read on a picture downstairs that this castle was built about 100 years ago by a private citizen, then bought by the Nazis in 1938 and turned into a Nazi training center. I was bought in 1989 by Calvary Chapel and turned into a ministry training center. What a reminder that the kingdom of God is bigger than any earthly kingdom. If only the Nazis then, in all of their pomp and arrogance, could have seen how the Lord would humble and make their kingdom as nothing.
The leader of the session encouraged me and World Music Mission with what a difference having an experienced worship leader at their training weeks has making. They have had times of worship though singing at two other retreats in the past year – one with a WMM musician, and one with a leader from within their own group. They said that they will always request a worship leader from WMM from now on because of the effect it has had on the group. I’m not sure they need much help; in fact it’s just unamplified me and a guitar even though there is a small stage where I could try and make a bigger production. But in this context that wouldn’t help but only distract. It is a privilege to trickle gasoline on a fire that is already burning and watch these precious soldiers for Christ joyfully express their praise as they can’t in their own contexts.
You can pray for strength for myself since jet lag is exhausting, and that I will indeed be able to work from the mid-afternoon until about midnight Monday through Thursday. I tried to get on my corporate VPN and it didn’t work, so please pray that it’s just a setting that IT can enable to allow me to connect internationally.
Thank you all for your friendship, prayer and support!