After my last post, and my lesson on being content with the quantity of encouragement the Lord allows, I wanted to share a sweet thing God did for us on Wednesday. Tim and I had gone out alone to elderly home nr. 2. We had spent time praying beforehand that God would especially touch my ability to communicate in Romanian (I had to function as Tim’s translator) and that He would powerfully use Tim to intercede for me during the times he couldn’t understand. It was a bright and sunny day and I was excited, because God had provided for a new inexpensive CD player and headphones for Estera*, so that she could listen privately to Tim’s more current sermons and my Women’s Bible study CD’s. Since I’d seen hopeful signs of renewed hunger in her for God, I could hardly wait to give them to her.
We found her, alone in her room, stretched out under the covers to keep warm, the TV tuned to a snooker tournament, one of her few pleasures. Estera is my age. She is almost completely paralyzed. Since we first met her she has lost the use of her hands and her vision has worsened. So reading the Bible or Christian books is out of the question. Most of the time she is left in isolation and can’t even change the TV channel unless someone comes to help her. And her new roommate spends most of her time sleeping, complaining or cursing. Naturally, she was happy to see us and immediately asked us to turn the volume on the TV down so we could talk.
The time before, when Tim and I had visited her, Estera had admitted she didn’t really know how to pray. That had led to a rich conversation that included the subject of the mercy God shows us at the cross. But this time we seemed to stay stuck on what was new in the lives of our friends and family. But suddenly in the middle of the mundane, God surprised and overwhelmed me with a word of encouragement that was all the more precious because it was unexpected and unsought. I was explaining to Estera that Joey and Miha would be leaving soon for the States, in order to be spiritually refreshed. Although Estera is not yet born again, and not one I’d normally confide in, I shared with her how all of us on our ministry team encounter much opposition in our ministry and that it can be very hard and that we find it healthy to go home each year to drink in the rich fellowship we can have with our mature Christian friends. It’s like it helps us drink deeper of the cup of salvation. Then we return to Romania refreshed and strengthened to go on.
I don’t know what I expected her to say after I finished my explanation. But she looked at us with understanding and said this: “That’s like what you do for us!” It took a minute for it to sink in, but when it did my heart was filled with gratitude to God. What a sweet word to my heart, that in spite of our evident weaknesses and the strong opposition we face, and in spite of the fact that we often leave the place of ministry sad, He is using us here and there to bring the fragrance of Christ. And this is all His grace!“For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. and who is adequate for these things?” 2 Corinthians 2:15-16