It's not just a little jump from Texas to Croatia. We're not just right around the corner. Texas and Croatia are 5,588 miles apart. Hey that's a long way! We're not talking about a few miles, it takes 9 hours on a plane to get here from the Lone Star State. Once you step off that plane you're in a whole new world. Croatia isn't just another country it's another world. As life begins new here the memories and activities of life in the good 'ol USA are slowly forgotten.
One interesting fact that kinda slapped me in the face our first year in Croatia was that life in the states and at our home church kept on going despite our absence. Church didn't just stop because we were gone, instead it continued to go and grow and kept having victories and defeats along the way.
Our first furlough we were in total shock at how much things had changed in just a few short years. I mean people looked different, buildings had changed, couples had been united and some torn apart. The "friends" we had known had forgotten we existed and life in general was totally different. Somehow it moved faster, people jolted from here to there and back again and never came up for air. Another interesting fact was that the fashion in church had changed. It had become much more laid back. Men had started to drop their ties on Wednesdays and flip flops in church were everywhere. I was also in shock that the length of skirts had risen a bit, not to major but a bit. Life had made a major change in just a few years.
We returned to the field and closed our little box to the rest of the world until our next furlough. Shock!!! I was literally in shock at the change in America. Churches had changed, some completely. I remember the lack of excitement and the overwhelming sense that the church was all about "us" and forget those in the highways and bi-ways. Many churches we visited had decided to drop their bus programs, those we the most dead. The didn't have time for the children and it seemed the Holy Spirit didn't have time to visit their services.
Our next furlough we took a little early due to financial woes from the whopping Euro but it didn't make the change any different. This time we noticed more than outward appearance which had drastically changed to knee length skirts (knee length if they were standing but sitting was a different story altogether), leggings and long shirts, and the Miami Vice mock turtle neck and blazer of once tie wearers. Something else had changed, the people were different. Those who once had an excellent spirit were very self consumed. Men had become pretty somehow and in more ways than just appearance. Neck lines had plunged and so had attitudes. The the hardest thing was to realize how man had "gone away". People who had stood and preached the cause were now eloping to the new movement of happy church. They weren't only throwing away standards but their beliefs had some how changed. The old faith that was enough to save them was now some how inadequate to save anyone born after 1985.
Through out all these furloughs I noticed a thread of unity in thought; "Life's too short." This wasn't the good kinda "Life's too short.", the kind that says, "The day is short and we must be busy about the Father's business.", no this was a "Life's too short, I'm gonna get the most out of it that I can even if it means letting some really important things go."
It's been a heartbreak to see so many fall by the wayside. Not deep into sin but way deeper into compromise of right than any Christian should ever even think about going.
Sadly I've been mistaken about the insulation of the mission field. As it's worked for us it's failed many other missionaries. I have watched as many have somehow caught the "Life's too short." bug and have also fallen by the wayside.
Something very real and very scary is happening all through our IFBaptist churches. We need to all wake up and take a look around and all of the "Me thinking" going on. Hey there is only one of ME and there are billions of THEM, we're spending way too much time of the ME and not enough on the THEM.
Sometimes we've been called stubborn or hardheaded. PRAISE THE LORD! That stubbornness has kept us firmly planted in the OLD WAYS and we're not moving. My real concern is my children that are getting ready to join the ME life in America. They're getting ready to go off to college and when they do??? I feel like I'm sending them into Sodom somehow and there isn't anything I can do about it. Once they're gone they are gone. Outside of my protection and amidst a world of compromise.
I praise the Lord for the insulation of the mission field but I fear that the walls are breaking down as we speak.
I wonder what will be in 10 years. What will be left for our children. Will the old paths be long forgotten?
God forbid! We have to stand rigid and unyielding! 1 small step in the wrong direction can be the one that sends us over to ME-ville.