Monday, 30 July 2012
The message left on the telephone was brief but to the point. ‘I’m a missionary in Bulgaria’ said a woman’s voice. ‘I have just been asked by my mission to train women to lead bible studies and work with other women in their local churches. I need material. Can you help?’
Needing to consult an atlas before I was even sure where Bulgaria is, [I have always been geographically challenged!] I returned the call and invited V. to visit me as she drove south from a conference. I sorted out the various addresses where women’s study material could be obtained, and some samples of what I’d used successfully, and spent a fascinating evening hearing how God had moved after the fall of Communism [this was the early 90’s] and how many women had come to faith. But their husbands hadn’t joined them, and the churches were very patriarchal, so even though the women formed about 75% of the congregation, they were very closely overseen.
I added a copy of ‘I love God and my Husband' to the pile of paperwork that I gave to my new friend, waved her goodbye, and apart from an occasional prayer didn’t think much more about it. Eighteen months later I had a letter. ‘Could you come to Bulgaria this summer for 10 days?’ V. asked. ‘We want to train some of the women who have leadership gifts, and we also want to help women who have not yet believing husbands. Could you come and run some seminars for them? You could stay with me and I could translate for you. We would visit 5 different churches in different parts of the country. How would you feel about that?’
How would I feel? Shocked and daunted was the honest answer. Staying for ten days with someone I had only met for a couple of hours? This was certainly unfamiliar territory. I had spoken quite frequently over the past few years about the needs of women who were lone worshippers, but not overseas, and not through a translator. This was definitely water-walking stuff.