“The work is not easy, but if you didn’t want to work hard, then you would have stayed in America!”
You know that guy in My Big Fat Greek Wedding? The father, who sprays Windex on everything because he thinks it has healing powers? Yeah well, we met the Bulgarian version today, only his medicinal fixation is booze. His name is Stephan, he is 80-year-old atheist, and he is the man who has owned and lived on the property we are working at for over 45 years. He is a feisty old guy who likes to pour alcohol on any wounds caused by rusty nails and walk around with his shirt off. Despite his quirks, he knows better than anyone the nature (Get it? NATURE?) of the property that we are clearing. So today, with the help of two translators, Kolio (an 18-year-old from the church who’s been hanging out with us) and Sammy (Bobby’s 10-year-old son), we started our work. Finally.
A couple of nights ago, Bobby sat down with us for almost 3 hours to share his testimony. I’ve never heard anything like it. It wasn’t his testimony; it was the testimony of how alive Christ has been in Shumen for the past 60 years. He took us through the generations before him and told us of how his family created the church here during a time when the Communist regime threatened every one of its leaders. His family combated the spiritual warfare being raged against God’s people and Jesus has prevailed. Bobby is living proof of this triumph, and his Vision, the Vision he shared with us, is the manifestation of God’s providence. 32,000 square meters next to a reservoir and on the side of a mountain. Once the thousands of trees, heaps of rusty iron, countless tires, weeds, shards of glass, and all the other unidentifiable junk that is infested in that land are removed, several buildings will be built: a home for Bobby, Rali, and their kids, an orphanage for disabled children (who are often abandoned at birth), a home for the elderly, and a retreat center will all coexist on the vast property. What will be the name of this place you ask? Nothing other than ‘The Promised Land.’
But boy oh boy do you have to have a huge paradigm shift to see the promise in this land. Whitney put it so well today when she breathlessly said, “Bobby is such a visionary.” The huge expense of their property is hardly visible underneath the wild, overgrown brush. If you want to try and explore it, you should be sure you have your tetanus shot because you are essentially guaranteed to be impaled by the shards of metal ravaged by rust emerging out of every part of the ground, trees, and dilapidated buildings. We worked hard today and the progress was evident, but in the scheme of things, it all just seems so overwhelming.
We are not discouraged though. In fact, we are strengthened and challenged by the massive task before us. We know we can’t do it on our own strength, but that’s why we have Jesus to renew us physically and spiritually. This property is going to be someone’s dream come true. It’s going to be someone’s home. It’s going to be someone’s only chance at love. What God is doing here is so important and we are all absolutely thrilled at the idea of being his hands and feet.
That scrappy old man is right. We are here to work hard. And work hard we will.
“So you also, when you have done all that you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”