No offense to the Grizwold family (from the "Vacation" movie series) but the Stier family could film their own "Vacation" movie this summer and, with the material we've had so far on our trip, I think it would be pretty good.
This summer my family and I are being able to enjoy a vacation-meets-ministry-opportunity in Europe. We've been from Austria to Italy so far and are midway through our trip. We've had the privilege of equipping Torchbearer students at Tauernhof in Schladming to share their faith and stay for a few days with an unbelievably Christ-centered family in Italy.
We've missed connections, witnessed people being forcibly removed from trains, been chased by "killer" Italian bees (according to my kids anyway) and ate a lot of shockingly good food.
Our family has been exposed to some beautiful scenery and passionate Christians. We’ve also had the opportunity to share the message of Jesus on virtually every leg of our trip. We talked to Fabio on a train trip from Venice to La Spezia. He worked in the virtual game industry, translating games from English to Italian. Fabio was very open to the gospel. Please pray for him as he promised to watch the Life in 6 Words video. Pray for Marcia as well. We just met her this morning. She works at a marketing firm in Milan. Not only was she extremely open to the message of Jesus, she gave us the best overview of the spiritual views of Italians I’ve heard yet.
God has supernaturally determined seat numbers on the trains we've ridden on, planes we've flown in and buses we've taken to create these wonderful evangelistic opportunities for our family.
But we've also learned a lot about the world, the church and each other. With this as a backdrop here’s what we’ve learned on the first part of our “European vacation"...
1. There’s something about concentrated family time that is irreplaceable. We’ve been on planes, trains and automobiles together and, in some cases, didn’t fare any better than Steve Martin and John Candy (in another comedy from the eighties.) But the conversations we’ve shared, laughs we've had and even the arguments we’ve gotten into, have helped bond us closer as Team Stier.
2. God’s creation is a billboard that shows the breadth of his love for us. From the Austrian Alps to the Italian Riviera to the vineyards of Vignale, all of God’s creation is pointing to him saying, “God made all of this for you to enjoy so that you could find and enjoy him as well.” How could any atheist witness such breathtaking beauty and still not believe in God? I guess depravity comes with blinders because you'd have to be blind to see the Alps and not believe in a Creator.
3. God’s people have a unity with each other that is built on something deeper than nationality. We instantly bonded with the believers we've met and stayed with on our journey. I can’t help but think of Tracey, the host of the wonderful bed and breakfast we stayed at in Italy or Sam, the gospel-driven pastor we met for dinner, or Hans Peter, the mountain-climbing Bible school director we met in Austria...and so many others. Although we didn't know each other we had instant unity thorough our kinship in Christ, love for God and passion for the lost. What a great thing it is for my children to see that there are strong Christians advancing God’s kingdom in powerful ways all around the globe!
4. Christian young people are itching to advance THE Cause worldwide. I’ve heard how Christian teens and twenty-somethings around the world are excited about any and every cause other than advancing God’s kingdom. But all of that sounds like blah, blah, blah after seeing the excitement in the eyes of the young people after sharing the vision of Dare 2 Share. Young people around the globe need to be energized to evangelize and seem genuinely excited to do just that.
These are just a few of the things I’ve learned on my summer vacation. We're about to enter Switzerland, Germany and finish off with England and Scotland. I’m sure we’ll have more lessons to report in a week or two.
So tay tuned. And if you hear of somebody getting arrested for climbing the William Wallace monument for a picture or chasing down the Queen to give her a Life in 6 Words book, it’s not us.
…or is it?