May Weekly Updates

1st – 7th May

This week we had a professor who is part of the Ravi Zacharias organisation come and visit from Macedonia. Despite the fact religious activities are not generally allowed on campus, he was able to give a lecture in the Literature and Philosophy faculty on creationism through the lens of two texts because it was merely informative. However, it opened up doors for future relationships between ZVES and the faculty for future similar events. We also had a breakfast in the morning to ask questions and have further debate on Christian topics. While attendance was small, it was still encouraging to see the way God is opening doors for ZVES in the future. Please pray for that!

Being in a basically still pioneering movement is often fun because of the freedom and variety of things we do, but is also often frustrating and disappointing. Things sometimes fail or are generally small, we have a distinct lack of resources, and there is no clear direction or goals to make the group work. However, it does mean that we are utterly dependent on the Lord. So many times we try things in our own strength and they fall apart, so when something does succeed, all glory and praise to the Lord! Again and again I need to be reminded of the wisdom in Proverbs 3 – I need to trust in the Lord and not lean on myself, in everything. His straight path for us may not look as bright, clear cut or easy as we would like, but we trust that His will is perfect and eternal and He will make His Name known here. We just have to obey and trust Him (easier said than done).

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

(P.S the main photo is from this week too, it was a stunning spot high up in the mountains called Velika Planina, which means Big Plain)

8th – 14th May

This week we went to a river a bit out of town and our supervisor sent us off on our own to spend time with God while she cooked us a BBQ (she’s pretty great) :). Walking up through the woods, listening to the river and breeze through the trees, it felt like bush-walking at home. The rocky uneven ground and the dappled patches of warmth as the sunlight poked through the trees reminded me so much of all the days I’ve gone walking and running round the bush tracks back home. I think one of the most remarkable blessings this year is how God has been teaching me that He is home and there is nothing quite so restful or peaceful as being with Him. But anyway, as I was walking, I saw and island in the middle of the river with a tree at one end and a boulder at the other. It looked gorgeous, jutting out from the shallow blue water, soaking up the sunlight. I pushed over a log a climbed over some rocks so I didn’t get too wet and climbed up the boulder and surveyed the beautiful serenity of God’s creation. A slight breeze caught the fluffy white blossoms of the tree and blew them towards me. For a while I sat in a gentle flurry of blossoms as they danced and spun in the air around me, it was like I was a little girl sitting in the middle of fairies dancing.

It immediately reminded me of the passage when God passed by Elijah and came to him in a whisper. All the sheer grandeur, might and majesty of God surrounded me. There was a mountain, the river and incredible woods and cliffs. But with all His power and glory, God still loves us and knows us more intimately than we can imagine. There in the whisper of the wind, God reminded me of how deep and refreshing His love truly is.

1 Kings 19:11-13 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

15th – 21st May

This week I had my last one-to-one meet up with our most faithful student leader, she’s amazing and has been one of the biggest sources of encouragement this semester. Sadly, she goes home to China in about a week. This is going to be a little ode to her.

My Chinese student is incredibly introverted and shy, she often hides behind us when we introduce her to new people and she is very nervous about talking about her faith without being asked questions. However, she came to Slovenia with an incredible heart and desire to grow in her faith and serve God. I’ve been training her in preparing and leading Bible studies, and she’s just the biggest joy. God has been working really wonderfully in her, despite her fears she started up a Chinese Bible study with her Christian and non-Christian friends. Each week she meets with them to work through the key stories from Genesis through to this week where she’s climaxing in Jesus’ death and resurrection. She came to all our conferences with us and has been so open in her struggles and the way she depends on the Lord and rejoices in Him in her triumphs. There is so little arrogance in her and she has a beautiful child-like faith. She’s studying her masters in law in English in Slovenia, including a subject on discrimination law, which doesn’t exist in China, so she’s battled nonstop with her studies, but she is so faithful. Despite our cultural differences and cultural clashes, I am beyond thankful for her and her eternal mindset. I’m so thankful she’s eternal and that I get to see her and all God will do through her in heaven! She’s the sort of person that helps me understand Paul’s love for the Philippians or Timothy, so just praise God for her! 🙂

Philippians 1:3-6 I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

22nd – 28th May

We had a little bit of a breakthrough with a couple of our students this week, all praise and glory to God! One is a Christian and one isn’t, but both independently have come to the conclusion that they need to seek to understand and know God better. How incredible! I’ve been reading 2 Chronicles recently and I was again struck by the power of God’s Word. When during Josiah’s reign they find the Book of the Law (I can’t believe they lost it) and he is read it and reads it out to the people, there is an amazing upheaval of lifestyle. They are so moved that it changes everything and they celebrate so remarkably for ages as they rejoice in the Lord and His Word. While we don’t really see that reaction now, it has been really encouraging to still see the power of God in His Word as we meet up with our students, these two in particular. God is changing their hearts and their minds in the most beautiful and spectacular way.

I’m often daunted and moved thinking about what it means to go through the Bible with someone and be a part of bringing them towards God. Obviously it’s not really me, but when we see someone entering the kingdom of heaven we are seeing their eternity rewritten. They are going from death and slavery to life and freedom – forever! That is huge! And I think I glimpsed a little bit more of that this week as I read the Bible with people. Please pray for our students and that God really would be at work in them and that He really would change their lives for eternity. And praise Him for His Word! (I feel like this passage from Isaiah sort of captures the sentiment I’m feeling, its also one of my faves, but the passage on Josiah is 2 Chronicles 34-35)

Isaiah 55:10-13 As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
You will go out in joy
    and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
    will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
    will clap their hands.
Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
    and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
    for an everlasting sign,
    that will endure forever.”

29th May – 4th June

This week one of our students got baptised! We went down to the coast for the day and enjoyed the beach and the beautiful Slovene coastal city of Koper, and then headed to a more secluded beach where she and her church and a whole lot of her friends were gathered. Four people got baptised, including one impromptu baptism and we all celebrated with more swims and a picnic afterwards. It was such an incredible blessed afternoon. Everyone was joyous and excited, we sang in Slovene with a guitar by the beach and prayed and praised the Lord for His amazing grace

Baptisms are such an incredible sign! I am so thankful that God put them in place to remind us of Jesus’ death and life, and the way we are caught up in it. As she came up from the water and gasped at the air again, opened her eyes again to the sunlight and shook off the water from her face, she was a picture of new life. It is such a powerful pointer to the way we have put off our old selves in Christ’s death, and such a beautiful and fun reminder of the way we are now soaked and cleansed by Christ. Praise God for His mercy and grace and praise God for the life we have in Him. Praise God for the joys of baptism and I pray Slovenia sees so many more!

Colossians 2:9-12 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. 11 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

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