As a person who had never been out of the comfort zone of the good old U S of A I wasn’t sure what to expect when we got to Slovakia. Sure, I had done research, read the travel brochures, and seen pictures. My expectations were rather grim being that Slovakia has a communist history and has been busy dusting off her shoes for the past 18 years. No amount of research could have ever prepared me for what I brought back home with me!
This first photo is what Bratislava looks like from a distance. This was taken upon our arrival into the city. These buildings are the remnants of the communist regime. They all look the same and this picture doesn’t really do them justice because when you first see it, you know you are in another time and another place. I’ve said it before and will say it again, I felt like I had gone back in time!
A lot of the buildings are in disrepair and look like this. There is much effort being made to renovate these old relics. As I walked along the city streets during the week , I noted just how many buildings were being worked on! Some of the streets were torn up, new sidewalks were being prepared, dump trucks were in and out, jack hammers were heard and men were at work. This reminded me of how God works on us. He is constantly chiseling away the old stuff to reveal the new stuff! He replaces the rotten material with new material, he gives us a new coat of paint when we need it! I am thankful for the men working on these old buildings in this historical city. I am also very grateful and humbled for the gracious and abundant hand of God that is always at work on His creation, mixing the colors and creating new!
In this next photo you can see the old mixed with the new. The fresh paint of the gray and the pink in contrast to the peeling and faded colors of the past. I found this transformation amazing to see in this way. It has given me a new perspective and a refreshed hope. It tells me that no matter what the decay is, or how old things are, they can be fixed by those who are willing to do the work. They can be made new and given new life with a little effort and work from the hands that care. It tells me that all is not lost and that there IS hope.
How does this apply to us? Well, we are all in need of some sort of repairing, from addictions to salvation, we ALL need saving. Every one of us everyday. Sure, I like to think that I don’t need any help, who doesn’t like to be independent? The truth is that I need help every second of the day. I cannot rely on SELF to do anything. I must fully rely on God. In seeing these buildings in this manner I was able to realize just how much work God has already done on me as well as how much MORE he has to do. Just because we are saved doesn’t mean we are perfect. God doesn’t just erase all the bad stuff. It takes time, prayer, effort, more prayer, and a willingness to change. We must put action with our prayers. It happens over time, it is a process. Just like these old buildings, they are being restored one at a time from the inside out. A process of renovation. Removing the old to prepare for the new. Our whole life is a process of elimination. Think about that one ! Thoughts?
This picture is where we spent a great amount of our time. We cleaned 8 tons of dirt, rock, bricks and stuff out of this old cellar. At a first glance you think, ” what in the world can this space possibly be used for? It is dark, dank and musty. The mortar is crumbling and there is lime buildup on the walls. It just plain stinks!” After several days of doing the back breaking, intensive, physical labor of removing the STUFF, mainly 8 tons of dirt, it became evident to us that there was indeed a better plan for this space! Once we eliminated the dust and dirt, the beauty began to come through.
Every morning we would eat breakfast in the dining room at the hostel. It too was in a cellar. It was a beautiful space. Much like what we had been working in all week. The difference in it was that the dining room had been renovated already. Each morning I would say to myself, ” that cellar will look like this one day.” I believe that is what God is saying about us as He watches us struggle and fight to remove our own grime. I think God is saying: One day these people will look like Me!” WOW! Working in this cellar really made me realize how much junk we hang onto, how much dirt is in our lives and with willing hands and hearts, how much of that can BE RESTORED!!!!!! That is our hope! Complete restoration in knowing Christ Jesus as our Lord and Savior! Woot! Woot! Isn’t that exciting????
Do you see the contrast here? From one picture to the next we can and will rise from the dust and dirt of our past!
I am not sure what has been decided about using this space and several things were mentioned from a food pantry to a youth center, to a family center. All of those ideas are wonderful and each will reach the lost in the willingness of the church to serve Jesus Christ. Today I would like to encourage Roberto, Gabi, Brian, Stefano, Vojta, Martina, Viera and all the members of both churches to continue being the willing hands and feet that serve Jesus Christ right there in Slovakia.
Romans 10 ( NIV)
14How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Dearest Brothers and Sisters in Slovakia,
Your feet are beautiful, your souls have been redeemed and your hearts are afire with passion for Christ. Working side by side with you has brought me more hope and joy than I ever thought possible. My heart is bursting with the joy that God gave you to share with me. God has used you to transform me and I thank our Creator for YOU! I pray that God will allow us to work together again, side by side, with willing hands and hearts.
May your beautiful feet always be busy taking the Good News to the people of Slovakia.
In Christ’s precious and cleansing blood,