Macedonia, Here I Come!
Have you ever been given a chance to leave the country? Maybe you adventured to France for a vacation, flew to Uganda for a summer of teaching English, or went to the Niagara Falls for the sake of saying you’ve been there. All those examples are great reasons to see the world; actually, I can’t think of a single bad reason to travel! But have you ever traveled with the end goal of sharing your love for Jesus with people around the world? You jumped on a plane with a suitcase and your Bible, excited to see the world, but more excited to talk about Jesus with people you’ve never met before. Cairn provides a lot of opportunities for this kind of adventuring in so many different countries – and this year, the school is sending a team to Skopje, Macedonia. We are so excited to get to know the people of Macedonia, to develop friendships with them, to hear their stories, and to make connections through the mission organization, SEND, that is based there.
Our team is going with the primary goal of teaching the English language to students who attend the university in Skopje. We will be there for about 10 days, teaching classes of beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels to help the students practice speaking English and to interact with them. After our classes, we will have the opportunity to have conversation with some of the students in coffee shops to have a more casual and personal interaction with them. It is through these conversations that we are praying that God would speak to the hearts of the Macedonians through our team! Teaching classes provides the foundation for building relationships with these students and getting to know who they are on a deeper level. Our team will be stretched in so many ways as we interact with the people in Skopje. It’s a scary thing to go into a different country where the language is foreign, and the culture is unfamiliar.
A theme that has come up in our team meetings is the idea of flexibility. In Macedonia, the culture is very sporadic and spontaneous. Planning in advance doesn’t happen; rather, people drop by to visit without calling, and get-togethers are organized a half hour before they occur. Contrastingly, America is a time-oriented culture, and it is a struggle for us to deviate from the schedules and time allotments. We like to plan, and when our plans don’t happen, we get stressed out. Our trip to Macedonia is going to be a focused lesson in flexibility. Even now, less than a month away from the day we leave, we don’t exactly know what we’re going to be doing. Our living arrangements have changed a couple of times, and we’re not even sure which university we’re going to be teaching at. All we know is that on March 9, our team will fly out of Newark Airport at 7:05pm, and we’re trusting that God is going to do great things.
The unknowns of the trip are scary to think about. So much could happen, and so much could go wrong. But isn’t it in those kinds of situations that our trust grows the most? When our plans fall through, we have no other choice but to rest in God’s sovereignty. Our lack of control forces us to look to the One Who is ultimately in control. Macedonia is going to stretch our faith in many ways, but we’re praying most of all that we would grow in our ability to be still before the Lord and trust that He knows best. Our prayer is that God would be glorified in our efforts – no matter how weak and pathetic those efforts might be in the end. We can be confident that we are going to fail, but He is going to use those failures to plant seeds for His kingdom and to bring glory to Himself. Our imperfections — especially when it comes to showing Jesus’ love to people who don’t know Him — are often the primary tool the Lord uses in order to show His strength through us. There will be times when we don’t know what to say when our words and knowledge fail us. But it is in those moments that God will speak, and when God speaks, lives are changed. We are completely inadequate to effectively share the Gospel and the love of Jesus with these people on our own strength. But we are praising God for our inadequacy because we are confident that all glory will go to Him.
Would you pray for our team as we prepare for this trip? Pray that God would be working in our hearts and in the hearts of the Macedonians in these weeks before we leave. Pray that our attitudes would be that of Christ, that we would be the best example of His love as we possibly can be. Our heart’s desire is that they would “know us by our love;” that we would be pushed outside our comfort zone, and that lives would be changed through this trip.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you ALWAYS to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 20:19-20, ESV)