Thursday, July 12, 2007

Operation Bucharest -- Our First "Official" Day



I thought that having gone to bed late that I would manage to sleep all the way through the night. I was wrong! Around 3:15 AM, I was wide-eyed and quite awake. This lasted until 3:50 AM until I crashed again. I ended up sleeping through my alarm on my watch and who knows how long we would have slept if Nathan would not have come and knocked on the door at 8:10 AM. This put us in the press mode because breakfast started at 8:00 AM and ends at 9:00 AM with the prayer walk preparation beginning at 9:00 AM.

I later found out that Annette McCoy also woke up in the middle of the night and was rustling around because she could not sleep either. Apparently Nathan Harrelson was up sleepwalking and talking sometime during the night and put on a show for the dorm that he was in.

Chad Kirkland’s luggage is still missing but Justin Ward took him, Justin Harrelson and Michael Joyner down to the Chinese market. Justin Ward and Chad purchased a suit for around $70 and a few other odds and ends that will carry him through if his luggage is not found.

The interesting thing about breakfast was the milk that is used here. It is packaged in a box that is about the same size as a macaroni/cheese box. It is not refrigerated until it is needed and the shelf life of the liquid is quite lengthy. It might sit in a cabinet for six-months before it is need. Somehow the way that the milk is processed does not require the care that milk does in the U.S.

After breakfast, Sister Rodenbush gathered up the prayer team with some instructions about praying specifically for the needs of the Romanians and the crusade that starts on Friday night. After she addressed the Dothan folks (along with some of the wives of some of missionaries, Sisters Buckland, Turner, Shutes, and others), she then directed us through a specific time of praying the armor of God into our hearts and minds (Ephesians 6:10-18). There was no doubt about being able to sense the Spirit very close to this team of pray-ers. In fact this is the very reason for our coming to Romania.

Some more very moving video that came as the prayer team was inside the apartment/church of Mike and Jill Patterson.

At this point, Brother Mike Patterson loaded Brother Patterson and me into his SFC Volvo SUV and we took off downtown. Traffic was horrible. There appeared to be very little congruity with all of the traffic and it was a dog-eat-dog concept of driving. Brother Mike told us that we should disregard his use of the horn or talking back to other drivers this was simply the Romanian way. We would have bursts of speed up to 45 mph with sudden stops, cars squeezing by us, and us squeezing by them. Horns are used frequently also. I saw a few folks who were acting like they were not real happy with the way the traffic was flowing but many of the drivers around them simply ignored their behavior. One thing that struck me was the major disparity among the vehicles. I saw a Lamborghini cruising through along with multiple BMW’s and I even saw a Maserati. But all of these high-roller vehicles were mixed in with jalopies from the ‘80’s. They smoked, putted, and rattled along as if they had just as much to be proud of as did the sports car owners.

We arrived at the Best Western where the European/Middle East missionaries were meeting to plan their year and work out the logistics on trying to spread revival. Brother Rodenbush warmly welcomed Brother Patterson and me to their meeting. The first half of the day would be extremely inspirational because we found out that these men are working tirelessly to change the face of Europe and the Middle East.

This first list of missionaries are those that we have as Partners in Missions (Dothan has a total of 64).

  • Robert Rodenbush -- Regional Field Supervisor for Europe/Middle East
  • Sim Strickland -- Greece
  • Michael Tuttle -- Netherlands/Holland
  • Mark Shutes -- Baltic States
  • Charles Stovall -- Germany/Austria
  • Alan Demos -- Germany
  • Roger Buckland -- Czech Republic
  • Arlie Enis -- Furlough Replacement
  • Michael Patterson -- Romania

This second list of missionaries were present but we do not have them as PIM’s (yet!):

  • Gary Reed -- Middle East
  • Robert Kelly -- United Kingdom (Great Britain, Ireland, & Scotland)
  • William Markham -- Portugal/Spain
  • William Turner -- Russia

When you see what these missionaries in action and what they have accomplished it makes you want to give more to their efforts. The bottom line is that every church must become the supporting team for these men and their wives. The Foreign Missions effort is bigger than a single individual or a single church. If we could ever get to the point where selflessness reigned there would be some powerful contributions to the Kingdom of God.

The part that really started running my own desire was the portion about the need for Bible school curriculum and ministerial development. This part excites me because the Foreign Missions Division needs writers who are willing to put things together for use in their regions.

We enjoyed a good time of fellowship with Brother Rodenbush at lunch. He told us several stories about some great men. He related to us how that Brother Stanley Chambers went to serve as an AIM’er after his retirement. He was in his ‘80’s when he was serving in Austria because there was no one to go to the country. He related to us about men who were visionaries in their day. A Brother Box (whom I had never heard of) spent his life for the apostolic message. V. A. Guidroz was also quite a giant of a man. He mentioned Brother George Glass with whom he had some close ties with in the early years of his ministry. Brother Rodenbush also told us that he has every boarding pass that he has ever received on his flights for overseas missions (41 years worth). When I told him about my reservations about flying (which are getting better), he told us of some of his early days when the seats would slip around on the floor and that some of the seats did not even have seatbelts.

Brother Mike Patterson then brought up a message that Brother Rodenbush preached somewhere (I can’t recall the exact location) about cedars. Brother Rodenbush gave us a brief synopsis about the power that are in cedars. Their roots are linked together. The wood gives off an odor that repels bugs and disease. He related that if the longevity of a church is going to exceed one generation then there must be “cedar” saints who give great stability to the structure of the church.

After lunch the meeting moved into the “nuts and bolts” mode where that certain committees were being put together to facilitate growth in the European/Middle Eastern zones. It was very important and I must confess that my mind begin wandering. However while my mind was wandering, Brother Patterson’s shut down. At one point in the meeting, Michael elbowed me and told me to look at Brother Patterson. I leaned forward and saw him sunk down and sleeping in his seat. Michael got up and took him upstairs to his room and Brother Patterson got in a 2 hour nap or so. I had to hang out and let my mind keep wandering. However, I had a great man of hospitality sitting to my right. Missionary Alan Demos had smuggled into Romania a stash of German chocolate. He and Michael kept shoving hunks of chocolate to my area of the table and I did not want Brother Demos to be offended by my turning down his efforts at smuggling so I obliged them and kept eating as long as they kept shoving!!!!

Around 4:45 PM, Jill came for Brother Patterson and me. I had little idea that in 45 minutes that I was about to have another first in my life. I am forty years old and have never before ridden in a taxi. Jill secured us a taxi (a swank Mercedes-Benz!!!) and we rode to the Pizza Hut to meet the Dothan gang. I told Jill that I really needed to get a picture of the taxi (which I did) since it was my “first.” The driver couldn’t understand a lick of English but his driving skills were quite excellent. He could stop on a dime, fly at about 55 mph with cars all around us (in fact so close that I could have rolled the window down and touched the car next to me), and blow his horn!!!! He could make all of these driving arrangements pretty much simultaneously.

When we were running through this deal called a roundabout things got a little hairy. The roundabout is four lanes of about 75 cars going round and round at about 75 mph and trying to turn off onto 75 different directions leading off to six different streets. This was when the horn on our taxi got to blaring. However, there was a little scooter that came blitzing through the roundabout and there was a driver about two cars in front of us that started honking like mad because the scooter rider had cut in front of him. The scooter driver promptly gave him an endearing sign of affection with that international peace sign that is used all over the world. He is riding off down the road waving his hand in the air. I started feeling more and more at home because there has been a time or two that I have seen some of the rednecks down in Rehobeth use that particular hand-wave of peace.

We had a wonderful waitress named Mariana (pronounced Mareonu with a roll in the “r”) and I am certain that her tips were well from our group. After we arrived at Pizza Hut and secured tables for the Dothan team, I fired up my computer and found a free wireless zone in Pizza Hut. I first checked my e-mail and this was what I found:

So glad to hear from you guys!!! I awoke from my sleep Tuesday Morning around 3:00 A.M. with an urgency to pray for Romania. I immediately started praying. John and I wish we were there!

We heard about Chad losing his luggage. We pray that it is located. Let Rhonda and Jay know that their kids are ok. Rebekah called Kayla to check on her. I love the picture of you and John?!?! Behave now, ya here! How is Teresa's neck? I am praying for her. Let us know if there is anything we can do.

Love and prayers,

John and Renee

Also this came in the early morning hours:

It is 1:41 A.M. Wednesday Morning. John and I are praying for you guys right now as you start your prayer walk. We pray that a mighty revival will begin in Romania.

Love and Prayers,

John and Renee

There is much to reply from the effects of John and Renee Butler’s prayers. Note that Renee was getting up in the middle of the night to pray specifically for some of these needs. I will address them in the order that Renee sent her e-mail to me:

  • 1. Chad’s luggage was found and it was sent to the hotel and is now in his possession.
  • 2. John Cureton and Philip Harrelson are behaving themselves in a very exemplary manner!
  • 3. Teresa Harrelson’s neck has not given her any major problems since we left the United States.
  • 4. I was unaware that Renee is Rhonda Lewis’ prayer partner. Rhonda had some real concerns about being underground and on the Metro subway systems because of a feeling of claustrophobia and crowds. She specifically wanted Renee to know that she has had much peace the entire time that they were prayer-walking through the subway zones.

For the life of me, I cannot understand how anyone would not want to get involved in a church that believes what we believe about the working and outflow of the Spirit! Prayer is a very powerful (although little used) weapon in the modern church.

After we returned to our rooms another little hitch was awaiting us. After we left the Pizza Hut, we were took a bus tour of some of downtown Bucharest. During this time a large thunderstorm took place and when we returned much of the power had gone out. As of midnight, we were running on half-power. This meant that all of the apartments except Teresa and I had no power. The dorms with all of the singles only had 2 of 4 rooms with power also. So I told them the Gordon Mallory story about all of the troubling times that he had during his early mission years in the Philippines that Brother Adams would slap him on the back and shout, “Well. . . . Mallory, how do you like missions work?” Then he would guffaw and Brother Mallory would think to himself, “I don’t like it too much!” The one blessing is that there is a good breeze and the temperature has dropped significantly from what it was earlier in the day.

Tomorrow we are heading for more prayer walking and pass out tracts and invitations to the conference this weekend. Again, our team salutes all that the home crowd has done for us to help us get here and for their continuing efforts in prayer for us.

Thanks for all of the comments that have been posted from the home team!!!!

6 comments:

Rebekah Butler said...

Hey guys hope ur havin a great time we love u and miss u. Sis Rhonda keep me in ur pocket, dont lose me!!!

ly
rebekah
p.s. hey lauren.

Terry said...

Wow! It is difficult to find words to express how I feel after reading your post and watching the video clips. It is 2:00 p.m. Thursday afternoon and I am in my office in Graceville. I was watching the video of everyone praying and it felt like we were linked by more than an Internet connection. I began crying and praying and hoping my fellow employees that were stiring around outside my office door would not interupt. I am not sure if this is pre-mature in saying or not, but I sense a shift in the spritual direction of our church based on the powerful impact of this missions trip. God Bless each of you!

Bro. Mullen

Neal said...

I was reading up on the "spiritual state" of Romania and one author made things sound pretty bleak but I remember the message Bro. Buie preached a few Sundays ago, "Nothing is impossible with God". God has placed this group in Romania "for such a time as this". I am praying and believing that just as Paul encountered a "great door and effectual" (effectual meaning "an opportunity for the working of the gospel")that you guys will have the same experience. May the anointing and power of God flow through each of you.



Neal Williams

Lyna Sully said...

Greetings everyone from NB. I was reading Bro. Harrelson's blog today at work and was so thankful that you are there. I know you are being a tremendous blessing to all of the missionaries there. Many of them we know and love. Please say Hello to them al from us! Especially Bro. & Sis. Demos, Rodenbush, & Kelly. OF course Bro. Mike & Sis. Jill! Daniel & Kay

Some of the people in my office wanted to know what was going on when they heard me talking on the phone to Bro. Sully about the video! So because of you I got to share too!

Thanks for all of your amazing talents. Let the Lord use them! Even blowing bubbles "Auntie Vera" can be a blessing and an open door to someone that you can share the Gospel with! Take advantage of every opportunity. Keep praying and letting the Lord move through you!

Your New Brunswick Prayer Partners!

Bro. Craig, Sis. Lyna, Jeff & Jessica

Anonymous said...

It is so awsome to be able to follow along with what you guys are doing. I can say as well that it feels like I am there with you all, if not physically, spiritually. I believe strongly that God is going to do great things in this Cursade. Many people are going to recieve the Holy Ghost,chains are going to be broken,mindsets are going to be changed and who knows what else! I know this for a fact because there has been some praying going on and PRAYER CHANGES THINGS!!! The Dothan Church is behind ya'll all the way with prayer and fasting. I love you all and keep up the good work!!!

Brendi

John Butler said...

Glad to see you guys are having a great time. As we were watching your videos we could feel and sense the power of God. Wish we could be there with all of you to see and experience the great things that God is going to do through the efforts that you guys have put forth. Tell everyone "Hi" and we are praying for ya'll everyday.

John Butler