Monday, September 21, 2009

Flight OS94 to Vienna

I arrived safely back in Trinec on Sunday evening, September 13th. My flights back here weren't quite as eventful as my many, interesting flights home to Nebraska. I didn't even really get to talk to anyone on 3 of the 4. My seat 'buddy' on the trans-Atlantic flight ignored me for the first hour or so of the flight, which I have to admit that I was pretty bummed about. I was really hoping for as much excitement and Jesus talk on the way back to the field as I was blessed with on the way home. Once he finally started talking to me, he told me WAY more personal stuff about himself than I probably would ever have solicited. However, that led him to ask me about myself and what I do in Europe (bingo! just the question I look forward to). I asked about his church background, and he told me he was raised left-handed Catholic (which apparently is code for Episcopal... I was confused and thought he meant that they were just bad Catholics), but that he, in the course of growing up "learned better" and discovered the wisdom of Celtic religion and describes himself as a druid. Whoa.

I had no idea where that was going to lead us in conversation, so I just asked what that meant that he believes. He said you could also call it wicca (and I thought "oh boy... he's a witch..."). It turned out to be this kind of pantheistic kind of "life force in all things" kind of idea. He told me that it basically boils down to him being a tree hugger and probably one of the "greenest" people that I've ever met, thinking that care for the environment and leaving it better when he dies than when he was born (reminds me of so many school field trips with lunches in public parks... "pick up your trash kids!"). Interesting. I asked him why he cared if the world was a "better place" when he dies, why it matters for him to work to clean up the world. He couldn't give me a much better answer than something about it being the right thing to do, or doing it for his grandkids. Oh.

I told him that God certainly does want us to take care of the earth, that when He created Adam and Eve and put them in the Garden, that He told them to care for the plants, to cultivate the garden. I also told him, however, that I would like to leave the world a "better" place when I leave it than when I came, but I can't. Everything I do, everything I touch, every relationship I enter and person I interact with I mess up. I break stuff, no matter how hard I try to do the right thing.

He said that that was a pretty pessimistic view for a Christian to have of things.

I told him that that was pessimistic, but that it was only the first half of the story. I said that God created me and him, loves both of us, but He's holy too, and all of that "messing up" in our lives is called sin (remember he'd told me a LOT about himself already) and banishes us from God's holy presence or utterly destroys us if we try to be in His presence. That's the pessimistic first half. But the optimistic second half is that Christ Jesus, God's Son, was sent into this world to live perfectly, leaving the place truly better at His death.

Now, that's a tree worth hugging!

Jesus died without deserving it, willingly, to take our punishment, our banishment, our destruction so we could be with God. I also told him that when Jesus returns at the end of time, He will restore all of creation to perfection, all people and all of nature. My friend really perked up at that point.

Until I finished telling him all this, he simply stared into the middle distance and listened hard. I could tell that that the wheels in his head were turning. He had the same look on his face as my Slovak and Jehovah's Witness acquaintances had had on the opposite direction flight just a month before.

It just so happened that we both had VERY long layovers in Vienna and were both planning on going into the city. It also just so happened (to my single, vulnerable, and alone young lady's dismay) that we managed to be heading for the train to the city at the same time. So, I was "stuck" wandering around Vienna with him for about 6 hours. The wandering also gave me more chance to speak with him about Christ and to give him an apparently much needed listening ear.

Praise God for the blessing of those many hours with my new friend, for the opportunity for me to tell him about Christ, for the opportunity for him to hear the Truth!

Please pray for "Rob", that the Holy Spirit will pursue him tenaciously, not ceasing in his pursuit until He catches another child for our blessed Father in heaven, loosing him from his bondage to sin and death, and freeing another worshiper for our blessed Jesus Christ, a worker for the Kingdom of our God.

Kyrie eleison

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