Tomorrow I leave for Amsterdam to train gospel-workers in biblical fundraising. I haven’t traveled overseas in a while and I am being tempted today to second-guess myself.
- Will the Dutch receive my teaching?
- Will they even show up? Of the 25 expected most are new to ministry. I guess I’m a little fearful.
- Will they go to the phones to set appointments?
But I also know that within 30 seconds of boarding the plane, God’s grace will take over. Hebrews 4:16 is my ‘get on the plane’ verse—we come “boldly to the throne of grace that we may receive grace to help in time of need.” My definition of grace is:
“Supernatural enablement to do what must be done—joyfully.”
Off to Chicago and Amsterdam. Picked up Molly, my co-instructor, at 9:00. By the way, if you are trying to find the airport in Colorado Springs don’t take Airport Drive—it doesn’t go to the airport.
Alma packed me a small bag of Hershey’s nuggets with almonds—a little taste of home every night at bedtime. Hard to say goodbye, but once on the plane adrenaline and the grace of God kicked in. I am eager to meet the Dutch and dive into the Bible with them.
As always on the airplane, I write out a prayer listing 10 things to believe God for on the trip. My major request is that He will meet each gospel-worker personally and touch lives deeply. That means there will be crying—without crying it is not a successful seminar! I prayed that all the staff would experience breakthroughs when they phone potential donors. This is the most important part of the seminar because it is where faith is put into practice. No more note-taking, no more theory, no more philosophical meandering.
During supper at O’Hare Airport in a crowded Chili’s restaurant, Molly spoke German to two ladies seated next to us. Their countenances brightened when they heard their mother tongue spoken. I was impressed by Molly’s striking up a conversation. She had lived in Germany only two years. I regret I do not speak any languages except Iowan.
Arrived at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport the next day (Sunday) at 10:05 a.m. and our cheerful transport guy, “J,” found us within five minutes. Marion, a second co-teacher from Canada, joined us at the Starbucks meeting location.
As per usual, after eight and one half hours on the plane my teeth felt like they had grown sticky wool around them, and I felt sweaty and in need of a shower. Within 30 minutes J whisked us off to our hotel near the opera house in downtown Amsterdam.
Canals everywhere! Bicycles everywhere! J said that there are 17 million people in Holland but 34 million bicycles—two each. He estimated 200,000 are stolen each year. And bicycles have the right of way—like the sacred cows of India, J said.
I made the mistake of crossing a small street without looking and was almost taken out by an older lady on a bike.
M, our host, picked us (as they say in Africa) at 11 a.m. and off we went to the conference site to prepare. The countryside was bright green with tiny canals running through the pastures. Consulting my European bird book, I identified huge white Mute Swans, Greylag Geese and Lapwings as we whizzed by. After all, Jesus told us to “observe the birds” in Matthew 6.
M’s enthusiasm was contagious. He wanted to review every detail of the seminar. One of my tasks is to equip him to lead seminars on his own so this was time well spent. We have 27 gospel-workers coming at 08:30 tomorrow.
Supper was at a Pannekoeken House. Didn’t know so pancakes came in so many exotic flavors! Delicious.
After supper we spent an hour arranging tables in the smallish meeting room and practicing with the LCD projector. Had to scrounge for extra tables. I explained that preparing a meeting room demonstrates love for the attendees—the ministry of a prepared place. Similarly, Jesus is preparing a place for us—and we will love it! When conferees arrive at a ‘prepared room’ they realize that someone was thinking about them, anticipating them. They feel honored.
Arrival day! We started on time even though a few were delayed because of the fabled Dutch traffic jams.
We started with an open discussion entitled “Obstacles to Full Funding” with each one writing their top two obstacles on a small card. Lively discussion. Then we prayed.
Next was Nine Crucial Attitudes that I team-taught with Molly and Marion. But we were interrupted often with practical questions. This is good I thought, even though we skipped some material. They were engaged—something I worried about.
Then we reminded them that tonight they would be phoning their friends to set up appointments to explain their ministry and invite financial partnership. Panic time! Some look for excuses not to phone, such as:
- I am not sure what my next assignment will be.
- I just concluded a major funding project.
- I’m feeling sick!
To help them phone with confidence we had them roleplay with a fellow worker. When they know what they will say, they are able to focus on the person on the other end of the line rather than worry about their words.
But I was worried about “ZZ.” She had a downcast countenance and confided that she was thinking of leaving the ministry. She came to the seminar hoping she would get some answers from the Lord, but her mind seemed made up.
At 7:00 pm the staff showed up eager to phone—though apprehensive. Marion gave a couple last tips, we prayed and off they went to phone for 90 minutes. This is a risk—what if it doesn’t go well? I get sweaty palms every time.
But as Molly, Marion and I walked around watching them phone and answering questions we saw good things happening. When they came back to report at 8:30 they were excited and talkative—95 appointments total! And only three people said no! During the debriefing I asked if there were any surprises. Here is one.
One staff called a friend whose voice seemed distant—a long way away. He was in Nepal climbing Mt. Everest! But he said he’d be glad to meet with the gospel worker when he returned! Two staff called friends who said surprisingly that they already wanted to give and even committed monthly amounts over the phone.
After the debriefing we put on warm clothes and went for a surprise 10-minute hike in the dark in the woods in the rain! M said it was only a “short hike” and his enthusiasm carried us to a bonfire roaring in a clearing. There I asked everyone to hold up their “obstacles cards” and one by one to toss them in the fire with a word of prayer to the Lord. Then we sang a popular Dutch hymn about surrendering to God. It was moving. A day of victory!
This day we focused on Ministry to Giving Partners. Molly and Marion covered the importance of communicating with giving partners and telling stories rather than giving long explanations. M and I led a Bible study in Nehemiah about major donors.
At the end of the day we had an official graduation with an official mortarboard hat. Each staff shared their favorite fundraising Stayskal cartoon, their funding goal and a key funding verse. ZZ was one of the last to share.
She tearfully explained her discouragement and then related how Molly’s talk on the “Emotions of Fundraising” had helped her. In 1 Thessalonians 2 Molly described how Paul cared for the new believers at Thessalonica by being gentle like a mother and urging like a father. ZZ said she immediately realized God was speaking to her—she understood God would also care for her just as she cared for the women she was discipling. She had chosen a cartoon of a scared woman. Then, dramatically in front of all of us she tore it in half and said she was “not going to be that woman anymore.” She is staying on staff! Wow.
Follow up day. We next visited with several staff who could not attend the seminar. We also met with the office team to build a strategy framework for M and the Nav office in funding for the next five years. We explained that the national office and the field staff must be in sync.
Lunch at the office: Fresh bread, cheese, meat cuts heated in a waffle iron type machine. Dutch bread is the best—fresh and chewy. It’s the humidity they said.
Spoke to a student Navigator group of 50 at their weekend retreat. My topic was Down to Earth Discipling—they translated my book. What an honor.
I included a roleplay (unrehearsed) with a student leader “E” to demonstrate how anyone can conduct a one-on-one discipling session. Because sexual temptation is such a big issue with students I asked E to read the story of David’s adulterous liaison with Bathsheba—2 Samuel 11:1-5—where David is on the roof and spots Bathsheba bathing.
E was surprised I would cover this topic so bluntly, but he recovered. I asked several questions including this one:
What could have prevented David from committing this act of adultery?
E’s answer surprised everyone. He said, “David would not have sinned if Bathsheba had bathed with her clothes on!” The audience erupted in laughter. Hmmm.
Heading home. What I saw at Schiphol International Airport:
- Tulip shops with cut flowers and bulbs. Tulips are sold not by the dozen but by 30s, 40s and 50s. All colors. Beautiful.
- Cheese and chocolate shops. And a gazillion high-end clothing, liquor and perfume stores. Major airports are disguised as shopping malls with airplanes.
- A male passenger with a five-o’clock shadow wearing a pink frilly long dress with a plunging black hairy neckline and a blue hoodie.
- Stern-faced heavily armed police outside the entrance.
Home at last! A good trip. As I checked my Day One prayer list I found that all I had asked for and more was given. Thanks to the Lord. He wants His workers well-funded and is so desperate to help them that He is even using me. Made a note to pray for M as he follows up with the staff with monthly reports. I will continue to Skype with him.