Greece, one of my favorite places. A six hour drive (kind of like from Chino Hills to San Francisco) through chaparral and blue shadowed hills brings you to the turquoise water of the Aegean and the beautiful city or Thessaloniki (again, kind of like the drive from Chino Hills to San Francisco). I have been there a couple of times since we have lived in Kosova.
I have visited the ancient ruins of Pilippi with Ted
Sure I managed to down some of these guys
And we even made a trip to this place for Chai Tea Latte.
But much as I love all of that, those things are not the reason we headed to Greece last weekend. The trip actually began with a Bible study. Last summer Maureen began leading us in a Beth Moore Bible study based on the book of Daniel. Why Daniel? Because someone had given Ruth the study and some books that we could use and we thought why not?
A few weeks into the study I began seeing friends of mine on Facebook saying that they were getting ready to head off to hear Beth Moore speak in San Diego. I remember thinking, “I wish I could have one of them tell Beth how much she blesses our little group of ladies in this far away place through her study and her words of encouragement.” Not to worship at the feet of Beth Moore, but because she helps us worship at the feet of our Father and sometimes, even the encourager needs some encouragement. But really, could any of my friends get close enough to Beth Moore in a stadium size audience to talk to her personally? Well, maybe I could write her a letter. Hmmm like a letter could even get from here to there and into her hands. Oh well, I thought, that is that. I will just tell Our Father how much I appreciate His words through her and that will be enough.
But, Our Father knows the desires of our hearts. Even when we are just wishing, he listens to us. A week ago Monday sweet Heather came to the Bible study and said, “Guess who is going to be in Thessaloniki in November — Beth Moore!!” We all started screaming at the same time – oh we have to go!! So, Heather said she would check into it. But I am going to be in the states for much of November (more about that later), so I figured they would be going without me.
Then on Tuesday Ruth came by the school to tell us that we would be heading off on Friday – yes, that fast! Beth Moore was speaking at a conference on Saturday and Sunday. Quickly arrangements were made for some of us to stay with friends in Greece and for a rental car from Skopje (Ruth and John’s Kosovar car can not enter Greece without paying a huge insurance bill because Greece does not like Kosova – my friend Maureen says that they act like a bunch of Jr. High students around these parts, so true). Then on Friday right after school we headed out on our big adventure.
Three of us stayed at a cute little apartment between two flower shops
and just down the street from this place, good location!
After a late arrival on Friday night, we were up bright and early Saturday morning to get to the Olympic Sports Museum for the conference. Once inside the cosy little room, we noticed a huge screen and the fact that the room had about 270 seats (yes, I counted – I am my daddy’s girl). So, we prepared ourselves. Often in these parts things are not what they seem. We figured that we were probably going to see a live feed from somewhere else. After all, we had only paid 5 Euro to get in.
Well, at least there were instruments on the stage and we had also been promised a group named Hillsong leading worship. While I had not heard of Hillsong (since I am an old lady and apparently not with the times), the other ladies were excited about that.
So worship began
and someone in our group said. “There she is, in the front row!” yep, Beth Moore was there in person. Again, we weren’t there to worship Beth, we were there to worship God, but I so wanted to be able to let her know how her message blesses even small groups of ladies is places that she would have to have a map to find.
Turns out that we were at a conference for Zoe church, a small group of churches based in Sofia, Bulgaria, Warsaw, Poland, and Thessaloniki, Greece. We began the day being led in the word by Jo Ramos, from City Church, Seattle speaking about the paralyzed man whose friends did what they needed to do (letting him down through the roof) to get him help from our Savior. Sounds like good friends to me – the kind of friends who would do anything for you, kind of like my Bible study ladies here.
Then after a break, Beth led us in a study of Ephesians 1:1-6, telling us that we are blessed by God (wasn’t that what I wanted to say to her?).
Then we had our d-unch (I know, TGIFridays – don’t judge – when you have been out of the states for awhile, real American food is just amazing!) and returned for an evening session with Christine Caine – founder of Zoe Church and of A21, an organization that leads women out of sex trafficking. She spoke on First Kings 17 about the time Elijah asked a woman to bake him some bread with the little oil and flour that she had left. Christine reminded us that sometimes Our Father takes very unlikely people from very unlikely places and has them do very unlikely things with a very unlikely outcome so that only He can be glorified. We looked at each other thinking – sounds like us, right?
I was sensing a pattern. Our Father was speaking right to me. Me – a highly unlikely lady in a highly unlikely place who is truly blessed by great friends who are working with me for a highly unlikely outcome. What a great day of singing and teaching and just being filled to the brim with good news.
But that was just the beginning. On Sunday morning we arrived to find the reason that Beth Moore had made the long trek – at her own expense we had figured out – to Thessaloniki.
Two years ago she had come to Thessaloniki to begin writing her study on Thessalonians. During her stay she met Christine Caine and had formed a bond with the Zoe church. This trip was to tell the church that they had been in her heart the whole two years she had been writing and not only that, but she had dedicated her study to them, the church of Thessaloniki. She then proceeded to preach to the Thessalonians out of the book of Thessalonians (how cool is that), reminding them of their roots and encouraging them to grow and become the “mothers and fathers” of a great church. She called for a great revival in the entire region, which I would say would include Kosova. Such a moving morning. She ended the day by asking all of the people who lived in Thessaloniki to come forward so that she could pray over the church of the Thessalonians. Wow!
If that wasn’t more than enough, at the end of the day, we made our way down to the front to see if we could get a picture with Beth Moore. Ruth had had a chance encounter with Beth earlier (in the bathroom ;] ), so we sent her in the lead. Of course Beth was gracious and let us silly ladies crowd around her.
Then I just felt I had to say it. I had to tell her. Those of you that know me well know it is not like me to walk up to people I barely know and talk to them, but I felt this tugging so I touched her arm and as she turned, I quietly said, ” I just need you to know that we are a small group of ladies from Kosova working with you through the book of Daniel. I want you to know that you have truly blessed us with this study. We live in a land that is mostly Muslim and in these days, that is not always an easy thing, but you have helped us to have a bright spot in our week. You have helped us to understand the commitment Daniel had and that it needs to be our commitment too. Thank you.” Well, maybe I wasn’t that eloquent, I am sure I mostly babbled, but Beth* and I both had tears in our eyes and I knew Our Father had taken care of my smallest little wish. Isn’t it so humbling to know that the Father of the universe, knows our smallest thoughts and the wishes of our heart so well.
It was a weekend to end all weekends, such great teaching, such great worship, such fun company. Praise His name.
* By the way, my friend Maureen told me that since Beth put her arm around my back for the picture, I may now call her by her first name :]