Never Too Old

Larry Dowden

I began praying about where God wanted me to go for a short-term mission trip in late 2016.  Charis Bible College (where I currently attend) presented many opportunities, but God made it clear that He wanted me on the European Initiative trip to Hungary, Serbia and Ukraine.  As I listened to the description of the trip and all it would demand, I had to ask God, “Are you sure?” I also reminded God that I was not really a young fellow anymore.  However, He said “go” so I signed up. 

Today I am thankful I listened to His voice. Before coming, I wanted to be involved in face-to-face ministry. In other words, I wanted to meet and serve the people where they live and I wanted to share God’s amazing love with them. Still, when God made it clear that this was the trip for me, I asked Him what I could possibly share. He told me to tell them that He is a good God and that He wants good for them.  So that is what I did at every opportunity.  

During my mission trip, we performed dramas in the subways, shared Christ, visited schools, distributed food and served in churches.  People were hungry for the Word of God and would listen intently to what we had to share.  Most people had heard of Jesus, but knew very little about what it meant to have a relationship with Him.  Many saw Christianity as a family tradition that was handed down from generation to generation.  When we shared the message of God’s love and goodness and His desire to have a personal relationship with them, they eagerly said they wanted that kind of relationship with Him.  It was amazing! 

The most touching event for me was visiting the Roma people in a small village outside Subotica, Serbia.  We were taking gifts of food to families.  As we entered their homes, they were so welcoming and willing to share the very little they had.  They made us tea and wanted to know why we would come from America to visit them.  One family had three generations living in a very small home.  The grandfather worked gathering scrap metal, wood and whatever he could find to sell—he did all this from his bicycle.   His two sons did the same and other odd jobs to try and meet the family’s needs.  The unemployment rate for that area is 95%.  That is difficult to even comprehend.  As we were visiting, the grandmother held up her hands as if praying and looked me in the eyes and said, “Please take us back to America with you.”   My heart broke for them that they felt so hopeless with no future for their children and grandchildren.  At that moment, I knew why I was there. I shared God’s love and His desire for good for them. I also shared that in Him they have a hope and a future. We prayed for their family and I believe God is blessing them even now because of their trust in Him. 

God gave me this passage from 1 Corinthians 2, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” 

During our mission trip, we were able to share Jesus with so many. As a result, many were born again and healed.  If we will just be obedient and do what God tells us to do, He will provide the increase.  I believe we have new lifelong friends on the other side of the world.  It is Jesus that binds us all together. 

I am so grateful that God sent me to Hungary, Serbia and the Ukraine.  Europe wants and needs the Lord, they just need someone to tell them the good news.   I just wanted to be obedient and make a difference in someone’s life by sharing the love of God.   Thank you Charis Bible College and European Initiative for making it possible.