After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.
Well we are in the home of some other brothers and sisters in Christ after a day of travel and site seeing. The countryside here is impressive. It is a bit rugged in the region in which we find ourselves but majestic and beautiful as well.
On today’s journey we stopped in a town to look at an old church building that now stands vacant though it was once filled with worshipers each Lord’s Day within the last hundred years. Our friend took us in to see this building and shared his hopes and dreams that some day soon people in this area will once again worship Christ in churches such as these.
Next door to this chapel lives the keeper of its key. After we had toured the grounds and facility we returned the key to the gentleman and were beckoned to enter his home, take our shoes off, and sit. He wore a sweater, a black peacoat, and a tweed hat. He was surrounded by medicines and the apparatuses of a breathing machine – likely the consequences of a life of smoking. He sat with his legs criss-crossed upon a foam mattress in the front room of the house tending the small wood burning stove just in front of him. Dale, our friend, and I sat down and exchanged greetings with him. Our friend explained that it would not be polite or customary to not pay a visit to him.
Soon his wife came into the room bearing a tray with coffee, sugar cubes, creamer, and cookies to be served in what looked like an orange colored carnival glass tea set. He motioned to us and exclaimed something in his own language that I could not understand but I knew to mean, “Eat! Eat!” More specifically it meant, “Don’t you dare try to refuse my hospitality. You eat those cookies and drink that coffee my wife brought to you.” We obliged gladly and each drank our cups down and ate a few cookies. Every so often he would turn to tell us to eat more. When we finally refused he relented, or so we thought. The trays were taken away and his wife disappeared back down the cold hallway (Only the one room was heated, hence the mattresses on the floor in the front room. The couple sleeps in there during the winter.).
The old man’s wife soon returned with another tray full of apples and various types of oranges. Again he implored us to accept his hospitality, which we each did by eating an apple. He tried to get us to eat even more but we refused. I leaned over to our friend and asked if we were being rude to refuse and he assured me that we were okay, since we had partaken already. Nevertheless we sat while our host and our friend talked with two other townsmen. After a while we rose, said our goodbyes, and departed, albeit a little later than we had hoped.
As we were driving out of town our friend called his wife to let her know we would be late. I asked him if that was a normal occurrence and he laughed. Then he said, “Do you remember when Jesus sent out the seventy-two witnesses to proclaim that the kingdom had come, and He told them not to stop to greet anyone?” I said yes, to which he replied with a grin, “Today you saw why. If the disciples had stopped every time to greet someone in this culture they would never have completed their work.”
Please pray for our brothers and sisters here who are facing some uncertain times. It would seem that the Lord has new plans for some who have a heart to continue with their current work. Nevertheless they ultimately long to be where the Lord would have them and will trust in our Sovereign God to show them in due time the place He would have them serve. I pray Dale and I can be an encouragement to them during our time together. I know they have already been an encouragement to me as they live out their faith in Christ in the midst of such uncertainty.