Edie and I set out for our month-long trip to Lebanon and Europe on Thursday morning. We will be in Lebanon until Friday and then move on to Romania where we will train Roma pastors for two weeks in two locations. Then it is on to Germany to train Bulgarian Turk pastors. We return to the States on the 2oth of October and Edie will fly on home from Minneapolis while I will stay another week for ReachGlobal leadership meetings.
We arrived safely in Beirut and waited anxiously for an hour in the airport because there was no one to pick us up. I tried connecting by phone, text, etc. but got no answers. I looked up on my computer to see that I had communicated properly about our arrival time and date and I had done so correctly. We were not sure what to do so we prayed. Five minutes later a man, Abdo, walked up and asked us if we were the Lewis’s. He had been looking for us and evidently, we had crossed paths on different sides of the arrival hall several times. He had my picture but I was not wearing my glasses. Evidently, we foreigners all look the same.
Our hotel is a little rustic but completely adequate, although we had to change rooms today, as our air conditioner was not working. Beirut is a beautiful city with stunning views all around as we are on the edge of the city in the hills. This evening we visited our Lebanese ReachGlobal partner Joseph, in his home, which is nearby. I have talked often over the years at various conferences, etc. with him about coming to Beirut, but this our first opportunity to be here. We will work together to see how we might come back in the future to do training with him and his organization. Joseph and Ben, whose students we are teaching this week, both have a vision for sending pastors and church planters back into Syria when things calm down, and into Iraq, Kurdistan and other parts of the region. Many of the pastors have left Syria with their families, due to the war, and the churches now have no leadership. God is opening many doors for people in this region to be open to the gospel due to the violence and character of extremists and many people will need to be discipled and reestablished in their home countries. We hope to be part of the solution to these needs as time goes by.
Yesterday we found out that our training time will be 2 days shorter than we had expected. Communication, communication, communication. It is so hard to get it all right but God knows and I have been working today to reschedule and consolidate my teaching to fit the schedule. We are certainly on an adventure on this trip. This is only the first unexpected change that we fully expect to face over the coming weeks. We also have had communication struggles with the Roma leaders we are working with in Romania and with our missionary partners working with Turkish pastors in Germany. We are so thankful that God is with us. Thank you for praying for us as we travel and train.