Zagreb From 37,000 Feet

Flying and writing at seven miles above the earth, I am thanking God for your prayer partnership as I return from 12 days in Zagreb, the Old Europe capital of Croatia. We called it Novo Nada (New Hope), our series of public lectures in the beautiful year-old Music Academy performance hall across the street from the National Theater. For nine nights and one Sabbath morning, the five Seventh-day Adventist churches in the city banded together to give public witness to their faith. Ninety-one "guests" (as they call them) joined with Zagreb Adventists in the nightly ninety-minute program—of music (featuring the well-known Agape Singers, the popular Heritage Singers like group known country-wide because of their television appearances and concerts) and lectures (translated by my new friend Pastor Dejan, campus chaplain for the academy/college at Marusevec). You may recognize our series theme sentence—"The Maker of all things loves and wants me"—which will always be the basis for novo nada/new hope anywhere on earth.

Regarding the language of Zagreb—any notion I might have had that it would be as easy to pick up Croatian—as it had been in Belgrade with the Serbian language back in April, 1996—quickly dissipated opening night with my butchered Croatian quip of "How good it is to be in Zagreb!” It wasn't pretty! But the audience seemed to take delight in my struggle, so I soldiered on each evening trying out a new phrase in their mother tongue.

Truth is, public evangelism's protocol and strategy in every country is different. But the goal is universal—as Jesus declared: "For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost" (Luke 19:10). Which by the way is what is driving our Unlock Revelation seminar that is still going strong here at Pioneer each evening. Zagreb's nine-night series was a compact and quick turnaround for inviting our "guests" to spend their "first Sabbath" at the Zagreb One Adventist church in town. Sixteen of the guests accepted our invitation, and ten made decisions that morning for baptism. (The evening series was livestreamed to Adventist churches around Croatia—but no report yet on their stats.)

The Zagreb team's strategy is to now follow up the 91 Novo Nada guests by visiting each home with a gift book just off the press last week, a translation of my book Outrageous Grace. Then this Friday evening they begin eight more nights of public meetings with a German pastor psychologist on "How to Find Happiness." It's going to remain a full court press for the pastors and members. But to reach a city and nation 85% Roman Catholic means the personal ties Adventists make with their neighbors are essential.

I'm confident their spiritual leaders are up to it all, having spent four morning hours with the 30 pastors gathered from across the small country. What a lively team! Our theme—how to be baptized with the Holy Spirit. In fact I learned that Helmut Haubeil, the author of the Holy Spirit book we've been studying here on campus, will be preaching in Zagreb in November (here is the new website for his book—now available for download in a host of languages including Croatian).

On a personal note and in grateful appreciation for your intercessory prayers, I need to testify I've not had an experience of public evangelistic preaching quite like this one in Zagreb in all the years I've been involved in evangelism. As I told the pastors here at Pioneer, I’m absolutely certain it was and remains the fruit of the Holy Spirit's own full-court intervention day and night in that city in response to concerted prayer. I remind you, many of us back in September began seeking God for a daily baptism of the Holy Spirit (as Christ invites us to do in Luke 11:13). Which is why I can be confident in attributing what I personally experienced and witnessed in Zagreb to His direct work. All of which says nothing about me—but says everything about the veracity of Jesus' promise—"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be My witnesses . . ." (Acts 1:8). So whatever we do, let's not abandon our daily seeking for the Spirit of God's fresh, empowering baptism every morning.  

But again, thank you for your prayer partnership these past two weeks. You perhaps will never know the spiritual impact your unselfish praying has in the lives of those for whom you pray. Please join me now in claiming for Zagreb God's great follow-up promise: "He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion by the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:6). Ninety-one souls on heaven's radar screen—plus an entire city—let's pray for them all.

And given America's escalating need for divine intervention (the whole world heard about Las Vegas), it doesn't take a 37,000 foot perspective to know we need to be praying hard for our own homeland, too. "Give us America, before we die!" Amen.