Jul 29, 2013

Taking a Stand

South Africa 6 - HoĆ«rskool Sentraal, Bloemfontein

One of the most inspiring moments of my latest South African Tour came on a Thursday morning at HoĆ«rskool Sentraal, in Bloemfontein.  

My manager Helena had felt prompted by God to try to put me in two High Schools while I was there.  God made the way, and both went extremely well!  (In one of my next posts, I'll tell a story that flows from the first school, J.F.)

But this morning, during the assembly, I had chosen to tell the story of my mom's funeral, the first time I every heard worship, and the prayers of a dying mother that have now been answered.  We also presented the song that I have written about this, called "There's a Place of Immeasurable Blessing", off the Broken & Complete CD.

As we went into the song, I closed my eyes as I most often do during a deep devotional song, and kept them closed the entire time.  The Band played it skillfully, and I invited the kids to sing the "Hallelujah, Amen" parts.  As the song wound down, I felt prompted to sing the last "Hallelujah" a cappella.  The shock came when I opened up my eyes:

All 1,000 students were on their feet.

Here's how one of the students explained it to me after the chapel:  "Well, during your song, after you had invited us to sing with you, two young women just stood up in the middle of the hall, ignoring the spectacle others might have thought they were making of themselves.  The reaction was immediate, as many others then stood with them in an attitude of dedication - deciding against peer pressure, and taking a stand in worship.  Over the course of a minute, the entire hall was standing up - sure, some of us now standing in the peer-pressure of the moment: to appear to NOT stand in respect and worship of the God that was being honored in that moment."

The Principle, a gracious and godly man, came up afterward, tears, emotional, and so encouraging.  He expressed that in his many years at the school, he could not remember a more powerful chapel - it touched him so deeply, and he implored us to come back again someday.

I finally got to hear from one of the girls who first stood - and she explained that in that moment, in that space, God was so holy, so awesome, so worthy of adoration - how could she not stand?


Jul 26, 2013

Hakuna Matata

I don't know about you, but I like Pumba's character in the Lion King.  Funny, affable, just an all around great guy.  "Hakuna Matata - such a wonderful phrase..."

Well, after a very hectic few days of ministry, my South African Pastor friend, Danilo, was asked by my manager, Helena, to give me a "day off" with "no worries"!  Danilo is from Kimberley, South Africa, and his wife Suzette, and awesome family Simonae and Dianlo, basically lavished on me a "death by hospitality" experience.  This included Danilo's version of a "no worries day off" - visiting a very cool farm with large, predatory cats, and then off to shoot a Wart Hog.  Wow.

I thoroughly enjoyed the large Cats, especially the Cheetah and Caracul.  They are amazing creatures!
And FYI, I didn't shoot the Wart Hog - Danilo did, and he field-dressed it on the spot, and gave the meat to some of his African work-mates.   

By the way, the Wart Hog no longer has any worries.

Jul 24, 2013

Sometimes you have to lose something to gain something too!

South Africa 4 - Bloemfontein

One of the hazards of living out of a suitcase for a month is the fact that things you normally have time or facility for, like a haircut for example, can become a bit more inconvenient, or at least out of your comfort zone!  Fortunately I have a manager in South Africa who knows how to quickly organize such things!

Alyssa is training to be a hairdresser.  And I hadn't had a haircut in 4 weeks / things were getting a bit wooly!  She started by asking me if I wanted a number 1, 2, or 3.  I chose 3, and out came the trimmer.  BUZZ.  Wow.  A few more skillful cuts with the clippers, and voila - job done!

There was hair everywhere on the floor. My hair grows fast anyway, but this was ridiculous.  And not to force the analogy, but it did remind me of the parable of the vinedresser...

Pruning seems to be a truth in the larger remit of the Kingdom - it is necessary to keep things from getting out of hand.  I mean, things grow. And things left to themselves and unattended rarely or never get better - they either corrupt, become unruly, and then deteriorate.

Hence the discipline of pruning.

Any good Orchard keeper will tell you that unpruned trees don't produce near as much fruit as pruned ones, and are much more prone to disease and branch- breakage than trees that are properly pruned.  Hairdressers say the same about split ends and unwashed or unconditioned hair, but being a man, I'm not near as up on that as my wife and daughters, who could most likely lecture on the subject!

But I do know, that as with many areas of life, godly discipline is a healthy thing that keeps things from growing out of control and from making a mess, whether its politics, economics, spirituality, stuff in my garage, or on my own body!

I am fascinated that a chore as simple as getting a haircut can remind us that we probably need to regularly do a "pruning inventory" - what needs to get trimmed off so that I can reduce the clutter in my personal, my physical, and my spiritual life?  It's a discipline well-worth the engagement, as it will make much more room for fruit in the long run.

Jul 23, 2013

Flat Tires

South Africa 3 - The Karoo

Bummer. Somewhere between Capetown and Bloemfontein we got a flat.  If this wasn't nowhere, we could see it from there!  (found out later it was near Richmond, a concrete loading dock in the middle of nowhere where a train stops once in a blue moon!)

This is one of the many parts of touring that are quite unglamorous - right up there with keyboards breaking, and 3:00am wake up calls!

Harry and I got it fixed, while Helena and Benjamin (their 9 year old son) waited by the fence in the brush. It's in a part of South Africa called the Karoo - WIDE open spaces man.  Wow.

Then we found out later from our sound equipment provider, Rocco, that there were an inordinate amount of flats on that section of motorway, and the local authorities believe it might be the work of a local tire company in need of some extra business. Hmm.

But the first item of importance in a world full of "bad things that happen", is: how will you respond?  Freak-Out?  Get cynical?  Become despondent?  In fact, if you think about it, it's the ONLY thing we can control - how we respond.

Truth be told, this is probably one of the best definitions of worship I think I've ever heard - "a proper response to God".  Of course then comes a million definitions of "proper", but suffice to say, Micah 6:8 is a good place to start!

I guess a final thought would be how God Himself responded to a fallen world.  John 3:16, Romans 5:6-8, and Philippians 2:5-8 give us a good idea...

Harry and Helena responded great, took it in stride, and we were on our way.

Jul 20, 2013


South Africa 2 - Fishoek

Paulus came home from work and found that Donnie had hung himself. Donnie had been sexually assaulted by boys at his school, and had returned home, incapable of handling what had just happened to him, and decided to end it.

Paulus was a paramedic at the time, and reckoned that Donnie had been dead for at least 20 minutes.  He cut him down, called for an ambulance, and began CPR.  Believing in his heart that his son was dead, Paulus could not bring himself to stop CPR, and in his own words "received the shock of my life when the dead breathed."  Donnie came back from the dead.

Today the loving family open their home to visiting ministers, guests, etc. who minister in Fishoek Baptist Church, and it was such a blessing to be at the receiving end of their hospitality.  Bernice should open a restaurant the food was so awesome, and Paulus could not give me enough hot chocolate, coffee, cake, etc., whilest sitting me in front of his warm fire, and blessing me with his company.

Donnie is unfortunately impaired from the lack of oxygen to his brain for so long, but dutifully helps his father around the house, and in the garden.  He welcomed me quietly, and took my suitcases from me with strong arms.  He gets up early every day to read his bible, and on Sundays always puts on a jacket to go to church.  Solid and faithful, he was a true blessing.

All of us have a story.  All of us who are in Christ are a resurrection underway, as the Lord changes us from Glory to Glory, and renews our minds, soul, and spirit.  It was a blessing to intersect these precious lives, and be blessed by them, especially when I thought I had come so far to bring a blessing.

Jul 19, 2013

"I'm in Missions because of you!"

South Africa 1 - Pretoria

And now to one of the most awesome countries on earth, South Africa!  I have had the privilege of being here 20 times, and am so blessed to be here again.

The main reason from coming was an OM Senior Leadership conference, hosted by a number of OM Leaders in South Africa, including Reinhold Titus from Namibia.  It was such a blessing to be with him, and that got even more special when he told me that one of my songs had a big part in him getting into Mission.

That song, Haunting Eyes - was my first ever missions song.  I wrote it in Mexico back in the 1980s, and recorded it the first time on an old cassette called "Living in the DMZ".  More recently is has appeared on "Seasons & Souvenirs", and my Missions Compilation CD, "Send Me".  Reinhold told me that it was while listening to that song, that he made the final commitment to the Lord to commit his life to world mission.

At the end of the conference, I met Dodo from Switzerland - who proceeded to introduce herself to my by saying, "I'm in missions because of you!"  I had done a bit of ministry at a Christian Arts School on the Boden Sea a few years ago, and remembered wondering if it had made any impact.  Well, watching Dodo lead around 40 students from the OM South Africa Training Program in an awesome musical showcase left me with no doubt - this young woman was "bringing it" in a big way here in South Africa!  And I literally just got this from her in an email - SUCH a blessing!

"Hi Bill,

T'was really cool to meet you! wow… that is already a week ago!
hope you enjoyed the long african style Graduation ;-)
Keep up your amazing ministry, cus that is what God used to call me into missions :)  Thanks again for that!

blessings, Dodo" 

I then flew down to Capetown to start the tour, marveling at how in just a few short days I had been so blessed to see fruit from sowing ministry in years past - that a young Namibian and a young Swiss are now in Mission and making a huge impact because of obedience in the past.  I'm grateful that God allowed me to experience that, remembering that the smallest of deeds is of infinite more value than the greatest of intentions.

Jul 17, 2013

The Guestbook

Serbia - Final

As we were closing our time in Serbia, Zsolti, the pastor who helped to organize much of our tour there, asked me something in Hungarian, and handed me a book.  With the Hungarian letters decorating the front of it, and Hungarian and Cyrillic written inside it, there was no way I could have made out what it actually was! 

Turns out it was a guestbook, and he wanted us to sign it.  No worries, me and the band began to fill in a few pages, giving our thanks, blessings, greetings, hopes for them, and then signing it with a scripture verse underneath.  It was cool to be able to leave something tangible behind…

And then it hit me - we just piled up some stones in the middle of the Jordan.

Memorials are cool things.  Firstly, they remind us that "We made it here".  I wrote a small inscription on top of Mt. Shasta in Northern California when I was a teenager, the only one of a party of 3 to actually make it.  The other two were my dad, and my High School friend and drummer, Dan Wilson.  Both have since passed away prematurely.  But as humans, there is a sense of accomplishment when we have arrived at a critical destination, especially having travelled so far, or worked so hard to get there.  Certainly our tour in Serbia would fit that definition!

Secondly, memorials remind us that "We have left something behind".  Sure, this can be self-aggrandizing, or gratuitous man-pleasing, but it can also be a legitimate thing - to leave a piece of yourself in a place where you have made great investment, or sacrifice.  It was an honor to write in that book for Pastor Zsolti in Serbia, who is obviously making greater sacrifices than we, and yet he extended to us the grace to write in his book - a tool that marks his journey, his progress of life as he lives out on God's altar there in Serbia.

But thirdly, and to me so much more importantly, is that memorials mark that "God has done something here".  And in that, with our tour in Serbia, there was no doubt.  God so worked miracles there, from supplying a sound-system from literally "nothing" for that first venue when our Sound Equipment didn't make it over the border from Hungary, to the "Great Cloud of Witnesses" (See previous Blog-post) who cheered us on as we played for what we thought was only an audience of seven.  But nothing compares to the joy in heaven, and the joy in our hearts, that people committed their hearts and lives to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior in that short time we were there, and that lasts forever.

There's another "Guest-book" in heaven.  It's called the "Lamb's book of Life".  Only we don't sign it.  Jesus does.  And he uses a crimson signature.  And isn't this, in so many ways, what it's all about on this side of eternity - extending an opportunity for Jesus to autograph lives?

Jul 15, 2013

A Sure Foundation

Serbia 3 -  Chantvir

As you may have read from earlier blogs, our sound equipment and drum set didn't make it across the Serbian border due to not having the correct paper work.

This concert was performed in the back courtyard of a country Baptist church.  A very friendly and kind group of people.  Here is a commentary on what life is like for our professional drummer, Dave, while on tour with us, and especially this particular evening!

"The risk you take as a drummer is you never know what your gonna get!  Because its such a physical instrument each drummer is comfortable with his own set knowing it inside and out. I have learned in my  40 years of experience to make the best of what you get.   Also, the physical comfort behind the set determines your performance.  When the truck with drum set couldn't get over the boarder it required getting different drums.  Miraculously the replacement given in Serbia turned out to be more comfortable and well tuned than the one we got in Hungary.  It was so well tuned I didn't have to adjust it in any way!  In my 40 years of playing drums that has never happened where I could just sit and play without tuning it!  Someone in the countryside of Serbia is a very professional drummer!  Either that, or The Lord sent an angel drummer to pre-tune it!

After acquiring the drum set, our last performance was on the grass! An absolute nightmare for a drummer in order to maintain balance, as you need a firm foundation much the same as one needs for living life!  Without a firm and solid foundation you are constantly shifting and making up for it on un-level ground, and you can't them play correctly  The same is true for a Christian walk, and the parallel with drums providing a solid rhythm is just so applicable here.  And of course if you don't play right, it messes up all the other musicians, just like a foundation-less life will mess up others around you.

The fix for that was putting two dinner tables with the legs folded under!  It was further stabilized with bricks securing the bass drum in place so it wouldn't slide forward while being played.  This wonderful drum set didn't come with a throne (seat).  By the grace of God the church had an adjustable stool ( unpadded) which had to be adjusted by the Pastor with a few blows to it by using a garden hoe!"  

Needless to say, the concert went off really well despite all the 'adjustments'!  We have been invited back, and God willing, will return to minister more in Serbia next summer!

Jul 7, 2013

"When I held her, I held Jesus in my arms"

Serbia 1 - Bacskossuthfalva

All 25 of us made it through the boarder crossing without any problem.  However our sound man and technicians with all the equipment didn't!  There was a problem with not having the necessary paperwork.  So our host pastor went 'round, and was able to round up a small sound system, an old drum set, old guitar and bass amps, and a few old microphones.  One of the mic stands was actually made from wrought iron, and brought a new definition of the term "Heavy Metal".  Fortunately, we had brought the electric keyboard and all the guitars with us.  The guys in the band didn't flinch.  God had our backs in this situation as usual! In fact, of course (!), God was already there, working!!!

We performed the concert outside on the tiny Patio area of the Baptist church, overlooking a grassy area, where our dancers danced.  We had people there from small children to older ones In their 70's.  There was also an English Language camp led by a group from Tuscalousa, Alabama.

Right in the front row were Rita and her mother, Kati.  Rita was in a reclined wheel chair and was severely disabled and mentally challenged.  She is 23 years old.  Her mother had taken care of her alone, since Rita's birth, as it is a full time job.  

After the concert, a few of is went over to her.  Sharayah was especially drawn to go there.  After introducing ourselves, a few of us asked if we could pray for them.  When we were praying, she looked at us and we could tell from her eyes that she knew exactly what we were doing.  Kati remarked how Rita reacted with excitement to the dancers and how she loves to listen to music at home.  We quickly pulled out Bill's Broken & Complete CD, and gave it to Rita and she held it tight to her neck, and gave a smile as she was unable to talk.  I'll let Bence, my son-in-law tell the rest of the story in his own words...

After the concert, Sharayah came to me that we should go to them and thank them for their enthusiastic encouragement in the first row.  They were very blessed by the whole message.  With some of the Chino Valley Community Church members, Bill Trimper prayed over the disabled girl and her mom who is raising her alone now for 23 years.  Wow.  We gave them a CD of Bill Drake - Broken & Complete, and this girl was holding it so tight I thought she breaks it.

When we were saying goodbye, Teri told me to ask if they need help putting her in the car.  The mom gladly took advantage of my offer, and we escorted them to their car.  I lifted Rita out of her wheelchair and put her in the car.  Her mom was so thankful.  She said, "You just saw her first time and your instict was to come to her and not only talking to her but helping as well.  Not every christian do that.  Thank you so much.  What a blessing to have a mother-in-law who tells you sometimes what to do in the moment."

We talked with Kate a little more, and Sharayah encouraged her.  I believe one of the highest thrones in heaven will be for moms like who serve 24/7 hardly ever complain.  She said she is ministering to others through her situation.  Well, she ministered to us for sure.  I don't know what is your ministry, but seems like in Serbia, Kati has her own "NGO" called "Being a Mom".  As she is a full-hearted mom laying down her life for her disabled daughter it is deeply moving.

Thank you God that we get to experience what it means to dying to ourselves in an even more sobering way.  Thank you that you have one of the highest thrones for these wonderful moms.  God Bless all the moms!

When I shared with her that one of the highest thrones are waiting for her in the kingdom of heaven and that we will dance and run around with her daughter on the new earth, she was so really encouraged!

But God had spoken directly to me as well - when I held Rita in my arms, I was holding Jesus.

So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.  (James 2:17 ESV)

Other Stories from that night:

Carla (one of our dancers) had a conversation with two teen girls after the concert.  She shared her testimony, and dispelled the myth that because we were Americans we had it all together such as good families, money etc.  She then asked the girls about their lives here in Serbia.  When the conversation turned to spiritual things, Carla ask the girls, that if they died today, would they go to heaven and be with God?  One girl knew she would go to heaven and the other girl didn't. After Carla explained the gospel, the girl prayed and surrendered to Christ. 

Bill Trimper, the Missions Pastor from CVCC gathered a group of three young men around him.  One of them said he thought he was a Christian but wasn't sure, another, with very dark eyes and a sinister appearance said he did not want to, and a third wanted to know more.  Bill explained the Gospel of Christ, and 
Nicki, and Attila surrendered to Christ.

The concert was an incredible testimony to God's provision and faithfulness, that although we did not have our equipment (sound system), it didn't matter.  When all the props get kicked out, and all you have is your voice, or your hands, you can still testify to the greatness and goodness of The Lord through whatever means.  Serbia is a very, very needy country.  But God is a very awesome God, and it was a privilege to come alongside those who are already laboring here, and encourage, lift them up, and participate in the harvest.

Jul 6, 2013

A Great Cloud of Witnesses

Serbia 2 - Szabadka

We arrived in Szabadka, a beautiful Hungarian City now located in the northern part of Serbia, awarded to that country after the treaty of Versailles.  We were shown into a 19th Century style theater, and marveled at the architecture, decor, and style - what a wonderful place to play a concert!

As the time got closer to the start, it became apparent that not too many people would show up.  We discovered that the concert was hardly publicized at all, and by start time, only seven people had come.  Fighting the temptation to be very disappointed, we pressed forward into the event, trusting God that whoever was supposed to be there was there for His purposes and His glory.

The Concert itself actually went off without a hitch, and the seven who came were very appreciative that we had not held back - and it was true - we sincerely tried to give them everything we would have if there had been 700 in attendance.  But it had been tough, fighting off the urge to "think" about all the effort, set-up, equipment, time, etc. - and for only seven.

But then we started to get more information.  Our Serbian Pastor-Host, Zoltan, encouraged us about Jesus leaving the 99, and putting in an all-out rescue effort into saving the 1.  The entire evening The Lord had been impressing this story upon him.

And then my daughter Sharayah had something to share…

Somewhere during the course of the concert, and after one of the songs that had a beautiful worship dance in it, she had a vision-like experience, that Jesus Himself was on the stage with us, and He was dancing, and clapping, and jumping up and down - so pleased with His children, who were totally given over to His worship...

…and she heard applause - a lot of applause - not the kind that comes from seven people scattered throughout a hall that seats at least 300.  No, this was the sound of thousands.  She literally turned around looking, and then stood there on the stage in front of the vacuous space, captured by that sound, and wondered, "Am I imagining this, or is this real?  Is there something wrong with my monitor mix, or God, are you trying to tell me something?!"

She got her answer later that evening when The Lord led her to Hebrews 12:1.  What she heard on the stage that night was the raucous encouragement that comes from a crowd in the stands of a great stadium cheering on the racers who are running with endurance the race that is set before them, fixing their eyes on Jesus, who is the author and the perfecter of their faith.

Friends, there is always an audience...

Jul 5, 2013

Sow, Water, Harvest

Hungary 10- Szentendre

Situated along the Danube, Szentendre is a lovely, quaint town with cobblestone pathways, old buildings and Hungarian culture.  To put it another way, it's a tourist area.  We could tell that because of all the different people we saw and heard from other countries, including our own!   The street was lined with all sorts of Hungarian souvenirs which are always a treat to look at.  

Our concert was held in the courtyard of a school.   We arrived late morning to have a look around.  Since the school wasn't being used due to summer vacation, a Church was hosting an English Language camp which is a VBS style day-camp where people send their children to learn some basic English. Its a fun day for kids with all sorts of activities to help them learn some English.  After lunch, however, part of our youth group performed some children's action songs for the 100+ kids.  We then set up for our evening concert.

Parents of the children are invited to come to the concerts too.  Fliers were posted all around the town inviting people to come, so we get a got quite a variety of people coming to this concert!  

The Concert went extremely well - Bill and Michelle shared their testimonies of brokenness, and the audience literally clung on to every word.  Once again the music and the dance pulled people in from off the streets, and people were given an opportunity to hear the gospel and respond to The Lord.  But as with so many of our events, the real action takes place after the concert!

Testimony from our team:

Jeremy (Hungarian Translator and teen evangelist!) was able to relate to some older teens about growing in Christ and relying on Him. While Jeremy was sharing, one teen said he had to go catch a bus home so, Jeremy followed him to the bus stop so they could continue talking.  On their way, someone they didn't know and hadn't seen, came up behind them on his bike, skidded the tires, and started swearing and cursing at them (Jeremy lived in Hungary for six years and can speak fluent Hungarian). Jeremy slowly turned to the guy on the bike, stretched his hand out slowly, and began blessing him in Jesus name!  The man began to look befuddled, and then almost afraid, and he turned tail and biked off.  The power of blessing those who curse you, as the Bible says, has amazing effects!

Amy, one of our dancers, spoke with two boys that had attended the English language camp.  She talked about receiving the free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ, and they both said yes, they wanted that. One boy asked her to pray about the fact he wasn't good in math.  He seemed to be really happy about the conversation, the prayers and Bible verses she shared.

Mary and Jeremy - were talking with two boys but then about 6-7 more kids gathered around.  Some were workers and some kids from the camp.  The workers told them, "We're so impressed with the way your group is so "alive", "so in love with God" and so "effective".
Mary led them in a prayer about giving their dreams, hopes, and futures to Jeses.  Based on their questions, she then felt led to ask if  they knew where they would go if they died. They didn't know for sure. She shared verses from the Bible demonstrating how you could know. By the time she left, and had prayed for them again, all  6-7 said they knew now that they were followers of Jesus.  This was the beginning of the camp so Mary encouraged the teen leaders that they can impact the kids for the rest of the week.

Crystal (another of our dancers) talked with two girls around age of 12.  She asked if they knew God and if they were certain of their eternal destination.  They said no, so she explained from scripture how they could know God and be certain and they prayed and surrendered to Jesus.  

Bill Trimper got to visit a woman named Monica that he had led to Christ five years earlier!  She was working in one of the souvenir shops then, and still does.  Monica was so excited about seeing Bill again and through interpretation shared she is growing in The Lord.  It's quite an interesting story on how it came about:  Monica was given a scripture coin five years ago by a different and unrelated (well, obviously related in the Lord!), which was about a month before Bill Trimper came into the shop and started sharing two scriptures with her.  They were the very same scriptures on the coin!  So she ran and got the coin from her purse to show him. One was John 3:16.  So Bill shared with her further on what those scriptures meant.  She accepted Christ that day and now five years later she is growing and flourishing in The Lord!

Jul 4, 2013

The God of the Broken

Hungary 9 - Kalocsa

The church here had been praying for this outreach for months.  So the ground was prepared for us which was a huge deal!  The response below as you will agree bears that out!  The concert was in an outdoor venue in a pedestrianized city street.  We set out chairs for people to sit outside a coffee/bar type place where the public could buy drinks and sit.  People were walking buy, some stood and listened for awhile, while others moved on and still others would stop, then eventually sit and listen.  It was an unbelievable night, with so many unbelievers hearing, staying, letting us know that they loved it, and conversing with us after the concert, we couldn't report it all here!  But suffice to say, here are some of the stories:

Last year this Pentecostal Church that was hosting our concert put on an outdoor outreach on the same street that we were doing our concert.  A younger couple came up to the pastor and expressed their anger about it and said they shouldn't be doing this. They pastor then employed the verse that says, "A soft answer turns away wrath" and they went away a bit more nice (!).  And now a year later they had "stumbled" upon this outdoor concert that we were putting on.  Their son had been riding his bike along the street area, had stopped, and wanted to listen to the concert.  They stayed the entire time.  After the concert the couple came up to Bill and through Bence's translation said how much they enjoyed the concert.  All the while the Hungarian pastor was marveling at the change of attitude they had from last year when they were giving him grief for holding the outdoor evangelistic outreach. They had a beautiful Hungarian style painted souvenir egg, and they gave it to Bill as a gift for coming!  They said they could tell we were real and not phony - they sincerely appreciated our authenticity.  Bill made it clear that this all came from God.

As the conversation continued in Hungarian, they expressed to Bence that they were scared about having to go to church.  He told them to read John, the gospel of Jesus.  That night on the way back to our accommodation, we prayed for them as a team, and asked God to do a deep work.

The the next day the Pastor called our Hungarian leader, Attila, and said that this couple had just called him on the phone and said their son had Diabetes and liver problems and that we wasnt expected to live a long life. This was why they had been so hostile to God.  But having heard Bill's Broken & Complete Concert, They said they wanted to get together and learn more about this God of the Broken, this God Who makes beauty from ashes, This God of reconciliation and love.  Would He heal their son?  Could He give them the grace for whatever lies ahead?  The Pastor promised to meet with them and walk them through this whatever may come.

After the concert a group of about six  7-10 year olds grouped around and wanted to talk to Michelle, our Dancelink leader.  This group of children were from the church that hosted the concert. She explained that God created them to do certain things. She asked if they had dreams for their life, asked if they wanted to pray and ask God to show them the dreams he had for them, given that God had bigger dreams for them.  would they be willing to surrender their entire lives to Him? They all were excited and really came alive after they prayed.  Mary, our other woman leader, gave each one a bracelet to remind them of their prayer and commitment.  Each bracelet said something different, such as "When in doubt pray", "Jesus loves you", "pray always".  In the prayer they gave their hearts to The Lord.  The countenance on their faces was totally changed..

Michelle and another young woman we'll call Eda got to talking as she had waited for Michelle to specifically talk to her.  She told a story of being abused at 5 years old, and had leukemia and other health issues with no cure. She said she thought it was a spiritual issue somehow.  So Michelle led her in an time of prayer after asking some questions.  If it was a spiritual issue, Michelle  wanted to get to the root of the issue. So they asked the Holy Spirit to show them.  Eda sensed the Lord show her that she was steeped in guilt.  As they prayed, Eda felt Jesus said to her to trust Him completely, Totally Abandoned (like Bill's song!).  She wanted to tell Jesus that she gave her life to Him right there!  She had forgiven her brother, but Michelle asked if she could bless her brother.  She said it would be hard but she will do it.  When she prayed that prayer, she said, "I bless you with clean thoughts and purity and to give your life to him".  There was much more, but when they were done, with tears of joy streaming down her face, she said her heart was light and burdened lifted.

Tamas, the sound guy who had been traveling with us for a week and has heard this concert about 5 times by now, is not a believer.  He had conversations with about 4 of us from the team that night.  He couldn't understand why we need God, such as in Michelle's case.  Attila told him that God helps change us so then we are better able to do our part.  Bill, not knowing this, but knowing that Tamas had been critical of Michelle's testimony, went to Tomas after the concert, and gently said "Hey Tamas, do you expect that if you get a punctured tire it will then patch itself and reinflate itself?"  Tamas said "No, I throw the tire away and get a new one".  Bill then said, "Should we then throw away Michelle and get a new woman in her place?" Thats not how God works, he doesn't just throw people away if they are broken or unusable.  He helps them get fixed so they can then carry on their way functioning as He made them to."  Tamas said he had not thought of it that way. and said he would like to think about it.  Bill is not going to let it go, and with Attila, they will continue to witness to Tamas for the rest of the tour.

Pray for Tamas - he needs prayer for his sight.

Jul 1, 2013

Fwd: Been Here Before...

Hungary 7 - Tatabanya Rock Club
by Teri & Bill Drake

This was a SERIOUS case of "Been there, done that, and got a bit more than the T-Shirt"!  Here we are in the Roxxy Rock Club, Tatabanya, Hungary.  Can you believe it?  We are letting our daughter perform in a night club!  At least she's with her dad on stage!  We got this unique opportunity to play in a night club performing all of Bill's songs, without compromise!  Bill and the band rocked the house!  The club was blown away - that Christians could play and sound like that - that it wasn't just "Barbershop Quartet".  Bill was also able to share everything he would normally say about forgiveness, being reconciled, God's love etc.  We scattered our team out in little groups all throughout the nightclub, each with one of our 5 interpreters.  As far as we know so far, no one came to Christ, but at our debrief meeting coming home on the bus, we heard numerous exciting stories of many seeds being planted and watered.  Here are some of them:

One of us had a conversation with a self-professed Atheist who pulled out a psychology book saying, "This is my Bible".  He believes all the answers for life and existence are found in human psychology and science.  One of our skilled evangelists was able to very gently point out that all the things this guy was mentioning were actually things that God created - such as love, intelligence, science, and creation.  This got the man thinking about some things, especially the foolishness of many aspects of human wisdom, and the faith that ALL creation stories necessitate - whether faith in God, naturalism, spontaneous generation, etc.  Biologically speaking, simply adding "time" into the equation on a macro level doesn't do anything exempt give more opportunity for erosion and corruption.

Jeremy, one of our 17 year olds who was raised in Hungary, got to talk to a guy named Chico after the concert.  Chico was angry and stubborn.  He had 18 Bibles at home, and had tried different religions, catholic, protestant, etc..  Due to the loud music in the club, they had to get close body-wise and it seemed to actually be disarming, as they would talk into each others ears! The guy told Jeremy that he was stupid for believing in God.  Jeremy showed him some scriptures from the book of John and Chico looked like he was taking it in, and actually started smiling, nodding as if he was inderstanding and receiving it.  When they parted, they actually hugged, Jeremy prayed, and gave him the scriptures to look up in one of his 18 Bibles and Chico's heart softened. Through the course of the conversation he went from being hard, angry and stubborn to being soft and accepting.  Awesome.

Kitti, a young Hungarian on tour with us, shared with a guy about the difference between religion and relationship with God.  He had recovered from cancer.  He said he couldn't believe in God.  When they told him it was God who helped him recover from cancer he stopped, thought about it and it seemed to dawn on him that it really could be so.  People are so quick to blame God for the bad things that happen to them but never the good things.  His lady-friend who was with him wasn't so receptive.  She said she wanted to go to hell because her friends would be there.  A seed was planted however, because when they parted ways he was given a gospel portion, and he seemed to genuinely say he would read it and honestly think about it.

The Missions Pastor from Chino Valley spoke with a man who used to go into Hungary and kill Serbs who were ethnically cleansing Hungarians.  The conversation got real interesting when the man said he was religious.  Bill played out the cycle of retribution versus reconciliation for him, and he was genuinely confronted with the depths and depravity of sin, it's generational impact, and it's seeming impenetrable facade across cultural divides.  This gave him an opportunity to introduce this man to the Price of Peace, the inefficacy of religion, and the heart-change that comes from a relationship with Jesus.

And so it went - on, and on.  Bringing light into a dark place.  We arrived to a serenade of Guns & Roses blaring through the nightclub speakers and video monitors, but when we left, the employees shook our hands, nodded to us, and it was obvious that not only had this been a very different night - we had gained their respect, but we had also most definitely brought a very different Spirit.