Monday, May 13, 2013:
It’s was a real treat to visit Philippi and envision how things must have looked in Paul’s day when he met Lydia by the river. The serenity of this place is a beautiful parallel to the “peace that passeth all understanding” in the heart of a believer. Seemingly forgotten by the world, the traces of civilization lay nearly unknown despite their rich history.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013:
The pace was a bit slower today as Br. Brent had a meeting with the American Consulate regarding the police harassment experienced to date. The rest stamped the remaining Gospel of John booklets in preparation for their future distribution as we fellowshipped together.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013:
We began the day letter-boxing and distributed every piece of literature, literally, that we had in the vehicles, in our bags and our pockets! It was so sad to see Satan’s “fowls of the air” come and steal the seed that had just been sown. We watched as a woman, who was passing out real estate flyers door-to-door, took every booklet from one side of the street we had just finished and trashed them in the dumpster at the end of the street. Another interesting observation while doing this type of work here is that lots of businesses stuff letter boxes, yet, when residents open their box stuffed with these earthly advertisements and the gospel, one cannot help but wonder if they will realize their finger tips hold the truth of eternal life! We must pray that the seed sown will find good ground.
Tonight’s church service was a great time around the word of God as Br. Brent preached on 1 Thess. 2:1-5, with the primary thought being that the Lord did not consider the time Paul, et al., spent in Thessalonica ‘in vain’ because it was about the souls of men and pleasing the Saviour, despite the contentions. May we all keep this thought at the forefront of all we say and do every day! Please continue to pray for the translator situation that the Lord would give wisdom, discernment and guidance for the right man to fill Angelo’s shoes. This person will not only need to translate in church, but be willing to go on the street to make that time profitable and effective.
Thursday, May 16, 2013:
…our time of departure is at hand…we have fought a good fight and finished our course!
Today was our last day here in Thessaloniki as we will be departing tomorrow morning at 800a local time and headed back to Virginia.
We spent the morning on the street to give it one last go before departing, unfortunately, the police were a problem again today. As we calmly talked with Greeks, two officers walked up and started questioning us…”who are you, where are you from, what is this stuff you are handing out…?” After informing him we were Americans and that we were giving away the Bible, he checked our passports and told us to pack up our stuff and leave. Br. Brent calmly asked him what we had done wrong and why they were forcing us to leave. The officer then instructed us to go to the police station. We asked why, he said “go!”, we asked why, he said “go” and began physically pushing Br. Brent to leave. Ultimately, Br. Brent was the only one “arrested”, though none of us were told what had been done illegally. We remained on the street for another hour passing out booklets and earnestly contending for the souls of men in conversations without incident. While at the station, Br. Brent had all his personal belongings taken from him and he spent 2.5 hours in a holding cell with drug addicts, drunkards, thieves and the like, even though he was not officially arrested.
Jesus said the religious crowd hated him without a cause (Jn. 15:25) and we who will live godly in Christ Jesus should expect nothing less. However, for the work to continue in this city, the police harassment issue must be addressed. Please be in prayer for Br. Brent that the Lord would give him wisdom and guidance on what steps to take and with whom he should speak to attain a resolution. The EU guarantees religious freedom, and as a part of the EU, Greece is supposed to recognize and uphold this law, however, this has not been the case. The Christians preaching the gospel have once again been targeted and shamefully entreated (1 Thess. 2:2), yet we know our labour is not in vain! Unfortunately, not much has changed in this city over the last 2000 years concerning those who would preach Jesus Christ crucified, buried and risen again for the salvation of men’s souls! Nevertheless, let us be so bold as to say, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Continue to pray for those souls that have been saved and for THE BIBLE Baptist Church of Thessaloniki that they would be “steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord…”
As we depart, our prayer for this work continues to be in accord with 2 Thess. 3:1-2:
“Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.”