Sometime plans change. Things don’t work out the way we’d like them to. We all experience this from time to time in our lives.
IFES movements are no different. There are times when the ministry seems like hard work, when there seems little fruit for the labours of staff and students, when unexpected events arise and seem to block what God is doing.
The apostle Paul at times experienced 'road blocks' in his ministry, and in the letter to the Romans asks Christians 'to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me' (Romans 15:30). Today I ask that you join with the IFES family in praying for all struggling movements, in particular those in Luxembourg and Slovakia.
The living Jesus is prepared to stay with us in every situation of our life
In December 2008 we reported on a pioneering work in Luxembourg. Jacques and Françoise Bernard live there and are involved in planting a church, opening a medical practice and being parents – in addition to encouraging the IFES movement, FCSA.
Françoise writes: 'Luxembourg is one of the richest countries in the world, and yet people are not happy. We have a very high suicide and drug abuse rate, among the highest in Europe. It's sad, but at the same time we pray that the Lord will use this desperation to work in people's hearts.
'Since 2009 Jacques and I have been alone in the ministry. There is a law student, Annemie, who is open to conducting bible studies when classes begin again in September. But otherwise, there aren’t really many Christian students who would be willing to help. We pray for God to raise up a small group of Christian students who are mature and motivated to share their faith on campus with other students.'
In Slovakia, things seemed to be on course for great growth in VBH, the IFES movement there. After three years of working alone, Martin Mražík, General Secretary, was joined by Beata, an experienced co-worker, and great plans to expand the work developed. But suddenly Beata was called home to Poland to care for her sick mother, and Martin is faced with carrying on alone again.
Several cities in Slovakia have no Christian students to take responsibility for leading groups. Students in one city met only twice last year. Julka, a group leader supported by graduate volunteers in yet another city, invited many students to join her in meeting last year, yet she is still alone.
But there are signs of hope. A group of students travelled this summer to encourage Julka. Some Christians who had been meeting at one university decided to join VBH. There are stable groups in two cities. And a new staff worker, Heledd Job, a young woman from Wales, is joining the work of VBH in October.
How should we view these difficult times, when things just don’t seem to be happening the way we expect or want? Martin shares his perspective with us:
'One part of our life with our Lord Jesus is that we can’t have everything under control all the time. Our love towards Jesus has to endure, regardless of what comes our way in our lives. This is one of the conditions of following and serving our Lord. Whatever happens to us or around us, nothing will change the fact that we are to love Jesus, know him, follow him and serve him. The living Jesus is prepared to stay with us in every situation of our life.'
Give thanks that this is true for Martin, for Heledd as she learns a new language and culture, for the Bernard family, for solitary Christian students such as Annemie and Julka who are struggling to be a witness on their campus, and for each of us. Pray this week for these individuals and the ministries they are involved in, that God will support, sustain, and prosper his work in his time.