Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Local perspective on the Muslim call to prayer

Over lunch today we were talking with our baby-sitter about the five-times daily call to prayer. Most of the Muslims here in Kosova are fairly nominal. Down the street from her house is a mosque where a hoxha (prayer leader) leads the calls to prayer. I had thought that all of the mosques these days used recordings for the calls, but apparently that is not true. She laughingly related that from time to time the hoxha coughs or sneezes while issuing the call. It really added a human element to something that at times, seems other-worldly to someone from the States. She also said how thankful they were that during the recent curfew (because of the riots in March of ’04), that the hoxha wasn’t able to get to the mosque and make the call. They were thankful for the quiet. Interesting perspective from a Kosovar national.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

what a week

Hey Gang,

Hope everyone is well. We’ve been busy the last few weeks, as I’m sure you have been. However, I’ll bet that we had a lot more fun that you! Seriously, we had a great past two weeks as first we went to Croatia for our annual Field Forum and last week we spent some time with my mother, sister and niece. Field Forum is the time when each field holds their annual business meeting. Our Forum is usually held in Croatia—and this year was another winner. Every year a church sends a worship team and a child care team to help with those two aspects of the program. Well, this year, my home church sent the child care team (in the form of my mother, sister and niece). Our speaker was a pastor named Morris Dirks (pictured below with his wife Ruth) and he did a fantastic job. One of the sessions he led us through was particularly helpful. Gathering information from several different authors he delivered some great stuff on “Discovering your Spiritual Instinct.” Since you help send us to Field Forum through your Great Commission Giving, I figured it was only fair to mention it to you (and hopefully encourage you with it).

People have been exploring the idea that each person is created with their own unique spiritual instinct. God approaches us, and we approach him, as individuals. While one might put down any number of instincts, we talked about seven. These various instincts explain why each of us connects with God in a slightly different way.

“I have observed that each of us has what I would like to call a ‘leading instinct of the soul.’ This leading instinct is the way of sending and receiving ‘signals’ to God that we most frequently employ when we want to engage in sacred or spiritual activity, when we wish to know and understand Him better.”—Gordon MacDonald. Forging a Real World Faith.”

The AESTHETIC Instinct: The agenda is majesty.
The important things in worship are beauty and order. These people value artistic integrity. In church construction, architecture and symbols are very important. Dignity and solemnity are highly valued during the worship service. Liturgy is a good example of what worship should look like.

The EXPERIENTIAL Instinct: The agenda is joy.
For these people, “feeling” is the most important element in experiencing God. Expressions of singing, dancing and clapping are demonstrations of one’s “heart” for God. God is our “contemporary;” he is “with” us.

The ACTIVIST Instinct: The agenda is achievement.
Service is the way of truly loving God. Projects, building organizations, social justice are how we experience God. Spirituality is how we “get things done.”

The CONTEMPLATIVE Instinct: the agenda is listening.
The emphasis is on the interior life. Meditating and quietness are the ways you experience God by hearing the still, small voice. Solitude is important because life is too noisy. God is found in quiet places.

The STUDENT Instinct: The agenda is truth.
For these people study of the Scriptures is the pathway to God. These folks love books and are interested in the deep truths of God. They easily expose false teaching and are delighted by theology.

The RELATIONAL Instinct: The agenda is love.
God is met in community. These people love small groups and love to serve with others. They dislike “ministering” alone, but put them in a group and they do very well. They like to touch, affirming each other.

The NATURALIST Instinct: The agenda is creation.
God is experienced in the great outdoors, outside the “building.” Creation points to God and it is the best place to meet with him.

Morris said that all of us probably connect with God primarily in one or two of these areas. The other areas are growth areas—areas in which we can explore meeting with God for our own benefit and our increased understanding of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

This has some significant implications, I believe:

Many church fights (particularly in the area of worship) point back to one’s spiritual instinct, not their theology. If we understand that we have different instincts it gives us more freedom to have grace for those we don’t agree with.
it gives us permission to have denominations that emphasize various instincts. The Anglican, Episcopal and Catholic traditions all emphasize the Aesthetic and Contemplative instincts. Some Pentecostal movements emphasize the Experiential and Relational instincts. We’re not talking about right and wrong theology here—that is a separate and very important question. Rather, we’re talking about how we naturally connect with a God who is timeless and who doesn’t “belong” to any particular culture, nationality or era.
It has important evangelistic implications. I had a friend when I worked as an Emergency Medical Technician who, though he didn’t consider himself a Christian, he felt that he met God most clearly on a ski slope or in nature. He had defined himself out of Christianity because he didn’t feel like he could meet God within the four walls of the church. I’m not saying that we need to tear down the church buildings, but if he had been exposed to other Christians who connect strongly with God in nature (and understood that) his understanding of the Church may have been different.


We appreciate your continued prayer for this project. Some exciting and some intimidating things are developing. First, I met again with the landlord of the building I would like to see as the center. He is still fairly firm on the 1000 euro/month price (which we cannot afford). However, this last time we met he said we could have the top two floors of the building for 1500 euros. Please pray for God’s direction on a center site. I am convinced that we are in the right neighborhood, but I’m not 100 percent convinced that this is the right building. I’m praying that he would do something “irrational” like give us the floor we want for 500 euro a month. Would you pray with us? As my mother, sister & niece stood on top of this building, we looked down on hundreds (or thousands) of young people all of whom are without Christ. There are less than TEN Christians in the whole municipality of 100,000 people. God wants this city for himself—I am convinced of that!

In other news—and this is really exciting--Crown College has adopted the Gjilan Center as a giving project and will likely be sending a missions team to Gjilan in March of ’05. Please pray that God would direct how the funds given by the college will be used. This is really, really exciting news!!! Praise God!!

Also, the South Atlantic District of the CMA is sending a Bible Seeding Team in September. Their mission is to distribute 5000 Bibles in Gjilan and to cap the week with an outreach event. Please pray for the planning and funds for this group as well.


Finally, a mundane but very important prayer need. The mission has decided we need to import our vehicles into Kosova (where they’ve been for four years). Since their purchase, they have been registered in Denmark under a special program the Danish government runs. Over the past 5 months the mission has been pursuing registration in Macedonia. However, the mission recently discovered that two of the mission vehicles (the one we currently drive and the one assigned to us beginning in July) cannot be imported into Macedonia because they were not build to European emissions standards. Therefore, we have to import them and register them in Kosova. Because we are a Non-Governmental Organization in good standing, we will probably be exempted from customs duty and from the taxes, but it is a long and arduous process. If we can indeed get exempted it may save the mission (i.e. the Great Commission Fund) around six thousand dollars. Please pray that this process would go smoothly and quickly.

Well, that’s a little long. Thanks for your prayers and your support!!

Jeff & Melissa

Please Pray:

for God’s direction on a center site in Gjilan. If God wants us at the site I’ve identified, please pray that we would “find favor in his eyes” like Joseph, Daniel and Nehemiah and that the rent would be lowered.
that God would direct how the funds given by the Crown College group will be used
that the vehicle importation process would go smoothly and quickly.