I was up for 24 hours yesterday. Flying to the United States from Europe is a long trip, especially if you don't sleep on the plane (three movies/ two sermons/ lots of coffee.) So, if this blog post isn't quite cogent, cut me some jet-lag slack.
Overall we visited six countries (Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, England and Scotland) and had an amazing time. I got to teach at a Torchbearers school in Austria as well as their global staff meeting at Capernwray Hall in England (a castle with wireless…nuff said.) But, most importantly, I had the privilege of spending the most concentrated time with my family ever.
We've had vacations before but, on this trip, we were together virtually the whole time. We didn't want to lose each other in the massive crowds so we stuck together like gorilla glue. We prayed together, laughed together, fought together, made up together, laughed together some more and shared Christ with all sorts of people.
On our trip from Germany to England we all got assigned middle seats on the plane. I happened to be sitting in front of my 12 year old boy Jeremy. He was situated between a well dressed man and a young woman. After hearing my son talk for ten minutes or so with the man Jeremy shared that I was a preacher and that I was going to do some preaching in England.
Then I listened closely and offered some "air support" in the form of prayer as my boy made the salvation segue, "Do you go to church anywhere?" The man said, "I go to The Church of England?" My son innocently replied, "Do they believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose again from the dead?" I could hear the smile in his voice as he said, "Well, of course they do." Jeremy paused for a second and asked, "Do you believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose again from the dead for your sins?" He said, "Yes, Jeremy I do." I forget what they talked about after that but, as a dad, I was thrilled with my son's blend of relational and relentless evangelism (he got the relational side from his mama!)
Afterward I told Jeremy that I had overheard his conversation and how well he had done turning the conversation toward Christ. He quite literally used the Ask, Admire and Admit strategy in one of the best ways I've ever heard a teenager use it. Jeremy told me, "Dad, I like to talk to people for awhile before I just pop the gospel on them." I told him that I was very proud of him.
A few days ago in London, after praying over lunch with my family in a pub, a man sitting next to us asked where we were from. He shared that his name was Ken Sutton and that he was on a preaching tour in Europe. Turns out Ken is the men's pastor at Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa (the O.G of Calvary Chapels worldwide) and fellow church planter. We shared and compared notes and talked about reaching the next generation with the gospel.
The last night of our trip we went into Planet Hollywood, had a meal and paid the check. I decided to leave our very good server a very big tip. Her name was LiLi and she was very grateful (a lot of Europeans don't tip and most servers don't expect to get tipped.)
As we were chatting amidst the blaring music of Planet Hollywood I gave her a Life in 6 Words GOSPEL card and asked her to watch Propaganda's excellent spoken word video. She said she would. We made our way out from the back of the restaurant to the front and she quite literally chased us down. She read point by point the GOSPEL acrostic out loud with a strong French accent. She then looked up at me and my wife and said, "This message changed my life five years ago. I am so happy!" I asked her if she went to church anywhere and she told me that she doesn't because she's working all the time. I asked her to e-mail me so I could recommend some podcasts and other resources to help her grow in her faith.
What a God moment.
Our trip was packed with so many of these! Some were evangelistic. Others were discipleship. Some were with friends and family. Others were with complete strangers.
God was in charge of our trip. I think one of the biggest lessons I learned is that God is the ultimate travel agent. With him there are no accidents there are just incidents. Incidents that advance His kingdom agenda in ways we could never plan.
I'll be blogging about some of the lessons I learned on this trip over the next week or two. My prayer is that these lessons minister deeply to you like they did to me.
It's great to be back home…jet lag and all.