Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. Jeremiah 6:16
The secret of the LORD is with them that fear Him; and He will show them His covenant. Psalm 25:14
Vol. 11, No. 9 Straight and Narrow September 2002
By David Clayton and Allen Stump
(During the month of July 2002 from the 9th to the 29th, Brother David Clayton and I visited the countries of Poland, Romania, Germany, and Norway, holding meetings and encouraging brethren there, especially those who have embraced the truth about God and His Son. This was a wonderful experience that emphasized for us the fact that God is at work in promoting the truth all over the world, and is not dependent on any human agency, though He gives us the privilege of working with Him. The following report is mostly taken from a journal that was kept by Brother David Clayton. I wrote the section describing the visit to Romania with David writing the portions before and after. Editor)
Arriving in Poland: David Clayton
We arrived in Poland at approximately 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 10. I had very little idea of what to expect of the country and also of our hosts whom I had only met through email correspondence. The Krakow airport was very small by international standards. This, perhaps, contributed to the fact that we were ushered through customs very quickly with me as a Jamaican, having the longest delay as they had to punch into a computer certain information such as my intended address. Allen, as a privileged American, had no such hassle.
At the baggage claim carousel, we watched with a sinking feeling as all the baggage was gradually cleared from the line without any sign of ours. Finally we were left staring at the empty conveyor. It was a good thing that both Allen and I had taken a change of underwear and an extra shirt in our carry-on luggage because we did not receive our luggage until four days later! We went to the appropriate authority to make our complaint, all the time conscious of the fact that Brother Jacek (pronounced Yatsik) Poreda would be waiting for us on the outside and hoping and praying that he would not assume that we had not arrived and leave. This was important because we had no idea of where Brother Poreda lived, or of how to get there on our own if we had even known.
When we finally got out, we were grateful to find a smiling Brother Poreda faithfully waiting for us. He was a small man and, as he described himself later, “a small man with a small car.” We got into his tiny car, one of the smallest cars I had ever ridden in, and Allen whispered that perhaps it was providential that our luggage had been lost because it certainly would not have all fitted into the car with the three of us. We soon realized that tiny cars are a popular feature in Poland, where wages are low and gasoline is very expensive. Everywhere there were the tiniest cars I had ever seen, some of them hardly bigger than a motorbike. It seemed that there was just enough room for the driver and the passenger in the front seat but, incredibly we saw many of them with rear seat passengers. Many of these cars were even smaller than Brother Poreda’s tiny Fiat.
Poland, at first sight, reminded me a little of both America and Jamaica. It was clean, it had good roads (not as good as America but better than Jamaica), and the foliage was like foliage in the United States. It was evident that it was a poor country. Many of the buildings were old and unpainted. However, I found it to be a pretty country with even these old buildings adding to the charm and attraction.
I saw no mountains all the time that I spent in Poland, although Allen saw some small mountains in the south of the country when he came back from Romania. The land was, for the most part, rolling, fairly level countryside much of which was given to growing grain, mostly wheat, from what we could see.
As we rode the one hour’s journey to Jacek’s home, we saw many magnificent old churches. When we inquired what kind of churches they were, Jacek always gave the same answer. “They are Catholic. There are only Catholic churches in Poland.” He gave us the following interesting, and perhaps daunting statistics: There are 38 million people in Poland. Of this number 36 million are Catholics. Their greatest object of worship is the virgin Mary. Many Polish Catholics place Mary even above Jesus or God and believe that there are four members in the godhead rather than three. Of these four, Mary is the most important. We did not find it hard to believe this because everywhere we went we saw shrines dedicated to Mary. We passed many dozens of them on our journey. I thought as I looked at these shrines that Poland must be the most idolatrous country in the entire Christian world.
Many of the people we saw were riding bicycles, both men and women of all ages, and it was a revelation to me to see middle-aged and older women, some of them well dressed as though they were going to church, riding calmly along on their bicycles.
The camp meeting was scheduled to be held in the extreme north of the country, while we had landed in the south. We had before us a long drive of eight or nine hours before we would get to the campsite. Brother family and some of the other brethren were already at the camp. He had driven all the way from the campsite to pick us up. In actual fact, Brother Poreda’s home was in the south, only an hour from the airport where we had landed in Krakow, but he explained that because of opposition, he had thought it prudent to have this camp in the north of the country. However, since it was so late in the day when we landed, the plan was to stay at his home for the night and then to make an early start in the morning to go to for the campsite.
Since we had some time on our hands we decided to visit the notorious Auschwitz, the infamous Nazi concentration camp where so many Jews had been imprisoned and killed during World War II. The death camp Birkenau, was also nearby and we stopped to see it as well. The sight of the gas chambers where so many died, the furnaces where the bodies were burnt, the sleeping quarters where straw was thrown on the floor for people to sleep like cattle, and the grim photos of emaciated semi-skeletons took our minds back sixty years and reminded us of the fact that human nature does not really change, and that what humanity has done in the past, it will do again if the circumstances permit. Even today, so many years later, the atmosphere of tragedy still seems to hang over the grim, forbidding brick buildings of Auschwitz and the ruins of Birkenau.
The Poland Camp Meeting
We left Brother Poreda’s home at 4:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning and drove until mid-day, stopping only briefly to eat or to relieve ourselves. Sometime after twelve we arrived at the campsite at Orlik where the other campers were waiting for us.
This campsite consisted of a large and ungainly half-finished house, which was of a very interesting design. There was a spiral staircase, something like the stairs in a lighthouse running upwards through three floors to a very tiny room like the Crow’s nest of a ship at the very top. The house starts out broad at the bottom, but grows progressively more narrow as it goes up, ending in this single tiny room at the top. Meetings were held on the second floor, while most of the campers slept on the first floor, but some slept in the room where we held the meetings and also on the floor above. This house was built by a man who lived nearby to be used for camping and retreats, especially for people who were students of the Esperanto language—a language invented for the sole purpose of being a universal language that would enable all the people of the world to communicate with each other.
A few people were sitting on the veranda when we arrived and we were greeted with broad smiles as we alighted from the car. We smiled and nodded our heads as we were introduced, but apart from Brother Jacek nobody else present spoke English and there was a lot of smiling and head nodding with not much else. At first it was quite frustrating because the people were bursting with questions and we also were very anxious to get to know them better, but the inability to communicate was a huge barrier and we continued with the smiling and nodding of heads except when our interpreter was around.
Eventually we grew quite comfortable with these brethren. We learned a few simple words and made up for our lack by making exaggerated hand signals and in this way we were able to carry on simple conversations. “Jinquia” (thank you) and “Bogosuavins” (bless you) quickly became a part of our vocabulary. Later, we found Slawomir Platek, known as Slawek (pronounced Swavik), and Rafal Lewandowski, the two young men who had stayed for a few weeks in West Virginia last year. They were very happy to see us. Slawek could speak English quite well and Rafal had learned some while in the United States, and so they were a great help to us in our efforts to communicate with the brethren.
During the meetings the twenty (approximately) people who were gathered there were very attentive and had many serious and searching questions to ask afterwards. We did our best to answer these questions in a biblical way. At first it was a little difficult preaching with a translator. Sometimes, in waiting for the translator to interpret what we had said, we lost our rhythm a little. However, we soon got the knack of it and learned to enjoy working with a translator.
On the last day of the camp meeting we walked nearly two miles to a lovely lake where we had a baptism. Twelve of these dear souls were buried in baptism and arose to new life with their Lord. Several of them arose from the water with tears streaming down their faces. My joy at seeing the seriousness and wholehearted commitment of these brethren was such that I cheerfully endured the coldness of the lake, though I was shivering by the end of the ceremony when Allen and I had finally baptized all twelve. Immediately afterwards we had special prayer for seven of these brethren who were suffering from various ailments and had requested this prayer.
At the beginning of the baptismal service two nuns appeared with a group of people apparently heading for the place where we were having the baptism. When they saw us they stopped on a nearby slope and stood watching for awhile. By the time the baptism was over there was no sign of them.
The Polish brethren are very serious about Christianity. They take the new birth to be a complete transformation and because of this, there were at first only a few candidates for baptism. Most were convicted that when a person was baptized he could never again commit sin and they were hesitant to undertake to be baptized because of the fear that they might not be faithful to this high ideal. I was stirred when I saw this conviction because I do believe that God gives us the power not to sin. However, both Allen and I could see that there was some misunderstanding of the righteousness of Christ, and that this might lead to much discouragement in the future if these brethren should find themselves falling short of their ideals. Accordingly, in the next few messages we focused on the love, mercy and goodness of God, and on salvation through grace by faith, which proved to be a great blessing to these brethren. While at first it had seemed that there would be two or three persons seeking baptism, the final number of 12 was far beyond what we had expected.
The leader in this work in Poland is Brother Jacek Poreda. He also was baptized at this camp meeting. He claimed that two years ago he had decided to be baptized into the Lord Jesus. However, the problem was that he knew of no born-again minister who believed the truth about God, so he determined that I would be the one who would baptize him. His friends asked him if he was crazy because the thought of a preacher from Jamaica baptizing him in Poland seemed ridiculous. However, Brother Jacek is a man of strong faith and at this camp meeting the God who always hears the requests of His children answered his prayer. Baptizing Brother Jacek was one of the great privileges that I had on this trip. Though Jacek is physically small, he is very energetic and a large-hearted servant of God.
Brother Jacek has translated more than 70 books from English into the Polish language, including The Great Controversy by Ellen White and one or two of my own booklets on the godhead. In addition, he has also written some booklets himself on the subject of the godhead.
Another interesting case was that of Brother Miroslaw Morawiec. He is a Polish brother who lives in Germany. He drove more than 1000 kilometers to come to the camp meeting. Brother Miroslaw was once a minister in the S.D.A. Church. In fact, it was he who studied with Brother Jacek’s wife, Kristina, and led her from Catholicism to the Advent faith. She, in turn, influenced her future husband, Jacek, to become an Adventist. Some years later, Jacek and Kristina sent him literature on the subject of the godhead which he studied very carefully. After several weeks he wrote back to say that he was convicted that it was truth. It was also one of the most joyful moments of my stay in Poland when I had the privilege of baptizing this brother on the last day of the camp meeting. Later, when we had meetings in Germany, Brother Miroslaw drove more than 600 kilometers to also attend these meetings.
The camp meeting came to an end on Sunday, July 14. Allen left the following morning at 2:00 a.m. with Brother Jacek for a long trip to Romania where he would spend a couple of days studying with brethren there. I had wanted to go with him but, unfortunately, with a Jamaican passport, it was impossible for me to get a visa at such short notice. I would also need visas for Slovakia and Hungary, two other countries that would have to be crossed in order to get to Romania. Allen as a privileged American, needed no visas, so I remained in Poland while he went with Jacek to Romania.
My time in Poland was not wasted. At every opportunity the brethren plied me with all kinds of questions on biblical topics. Jacek was gone, so Slawek became my interpreter. Most of the questions concerned the subject of the new birth and the sanctified life. These discussions continued until well after 10:00 p.m. at night. I had to dig deep into my spiritual resources to answer some of the questions, but at the end I was satisfied that it had been the purpose of our Father that I should have remained behind and that by doing this I had been able to be of great benefit to these brethren. They had a deep desire to serve God, but were focusing more on the perfection of the law than on the love and grace of God. One brother had even refrained from being baptized because he was afraid that if he was baptized, he might commit sin, and he was convicted that when one was born again he could not commit sin! I had to show him the folly of continuing to live as a sinner, for fear that if he became a Christian he might commit sin. I used an illustration which seemed to make a deep impression on all minds.
Suppose a good and kind rich man adopts a boy from a very unfortunate background, perhaps from the ghetto; a boy who grew up with bad words, stealing and improper behavior. This boy is delighted at the opportunity to escape from his old life. He is thrilled with the beauty and the privileges of his new home. Joyfully and gratefully he promises his new father that he will always do what pleases him. He makes a promise that he will never bring the ways of the old life into his new home, but that he will put away those ways for good. The father is pleased and gladly takes the boy into his home and accepts him as his son. One day however, in an unguarded moment, the boy forgets his promise and uses a bad word. As soon as he speaks the word, he looks fearfully at the father, expecting to be sent back to the ghetto. But what does the father do? He puts an arm around his shoulder and says, “I am sorry that you did that son. Nevertheless, I see that you are trying hard to avoid the old ways and I appreciate that. I am sure you will do better next time.” He is a wise father. He knows that the pull from the habits of a lifetime do not go away overnight and he understands the boy’s desire to do what is right. Even though the boy may slip up every now and then, he overlooks it, for he sees that the boy is really doing his best to please him and to avoid the old life. Is God less merciful and understanding than this father in the story?
Suppose, however, the boy should one day say to him, “Father, I cannot live by the rules of this house. I am not happy here. Please either change these rules or let me return to the ghetto.” What choice would the father have then but to sadly allow this boy to return to his old life? I used this illustration to show that God will only reject us when we deliberately decide that we will not submit to His way, but He will not cast us off simply because we sometimes are forgetful or careless or make mistakes.
Romania: Allen Stump
(The names have been changed in the following section to help protect the believers from opposition from their church.)
Our trip had been planned for a few months prior to leaving and the itinerary set. However, I had traveled to Hungary a little more than three weeks earlier for a wedding. While there I meet some very special brethren from Romania who had been studying the truth about God. While there we had some good studies together and they insisted that I must come to Romania when I returned to Europe the following month.
David had a difficult time getting his Schengen state visa, and he would not have enough time to get a visa for Romania or Slovakia and Hungary, the countries we would have to travel through. Getting Norway as his principle country to visit required that he spend more time there than in Germany, and would require that we enter Germany one to two days later than we had first hoped for. This turned out to be a real blessing. First, as the final plans for the trip developed, we would not need as much time to make our appointments in Germany as first planned. This allowed me to travel and spend the extra time in Romania. Second, as David mentioned, he was able to stay in Poland and visit with many of the brethren there to help clarify their questions and concerns about gospel issues.
The area in Romania I wanted to visit was about 1000 kilometers away. Jacek Poreda graciously agreed to take me there and accompany me on the long journey. Even though I had a little extra time for this trip, the schedule would be very tight. As David noted, Jacek and I left around 2:00 a.m. Monday morning and first traveled to Warsaw to take Brother Rafal Lewandowski to the U.S. Embassy to apply for a visa. We were thankful that God allowed him to get a 10-year visa. After saying goodbye to Rafal, we were on the road again.
Traveling the long distance in Jacek Poreda’s small Fiat was challenging for someone tall and long legged as myself. However, it was nothing compared to the effort that Victor Allen and his wife Melissa made to be at the meeting near Oradea. They hitchhiked several hundred kilometers to be there!
After the usual border-crossing hassles and about thirty hours of being on the road, Jacek and I arrived in Oradea and made contact with Sister Ruth Dallas. After meeting David and his wife Esther, we went to some open markets to buy food for the next few days. Then we drove about several kilometers to a small village in the country where Ruth lives.
The spirit and the hospitality of the brethren in Romania were really great! Romania is a very poor country in terms of financial resources, but a very rich country in terms of friendliness! As we found in all our travels, the food was tasty and very nutritious.
After the brethren graciously allowed Jacek and I to rest for a few hours, we began our Bible studies on the truth about God.
There were about a dozen brothers and sisters for these studies, but I learned that throughout Romania there are many brothers and sisters who are interested in the truth.
God really blessed our Bible studies in a special manner. Covering the basics about the Father, we looked at the sonship of Christ, and the Holy Spirit as well as the death of the cross and other related issue while there.
Some of these brethren, such as Victor, had had more opportunity to study the message and were beginning to become well grounded in it. Some were just being introduced to the message and had many questions. David was one such brother. He reminded me of Brother Bogumit from Poland, who also had many questions. Like Bogumit, his questions were of a sincere nature that expressed a real desire to know the truth. While David had many questions and objections, I could see an honest heart who was struggling to keep a good conscience. His attitude was always kind and friendly. What a joy it was to learn recently that he has fully accepted the message and is working to spread the truth.
One of the great needs in Romania is materials translated and published in the Romanian language. Brother Victor has a very good command of English and wishes to help translate materials. He knows of a brother with a risograph type machine that will print very reasonably. What was needed was a portable computer for typesetting the materials that were to be translated. Since returning to the United States, God has provided us with an old, but good laptop computer that he can use for translating. It has been sent and we recently received word that it has already arrived in Romania.
While in Ruth’s village, I stopped by an old Orthodox Church building that served the community. A person there, who was ringing the church bells due to a funeral, allowed me to enter and look through the building. It was a very interesting sight. The ceiling and walls were covered with paintings and tapestries. Very conspicuous to me was a painting of what is known as the “all-seeing eye” or “evil eye” on the ceiling.
I was told that the women and children sat on the old benches in the back part of the sanctuary. This was not nearly as elaborately decorated as the middle section where the men sat in throne-like chairs that lined both sides of the sanctuary. In this section was an altar. The front was partitioned off and was called the “most holy place.” While I was allowed to look in through a door, I was not allowed in this section, as only the priest was allowed there.
Before we retired Wednesday evening, my new brothers and sisters sang me a hymn in Romanian. While I didn’t understand any of it, the singing was quite good and the harmony of the voices was indeed sweet!
Our plan for returning was to travel to the southern Polish town of Gerlitz where we would meet David who would be traveling by train, accompanied by Slawek Platek. We then planned to rendezvous with our German contact, Erwin Zoor, at the border around 8:00 p.m. Jacek Poreda and I both remembered the hard trip to Romania. While our return would be long, it would be shorter to go to Gerlitz than to return to the camp from which we had left.
Early Thursday morning, at 2:00 a.m.,Jacek Poreda and I prepared to leave. However, while backing out of the driveway, Jacek Poreda ran over a piece of metal and cut his front left tire. Upon examining the spare tire, we found it to be flat! Here we were, nearly several miles from any real help at 2:00 a.m. and we needed to get on the road to be able to meet David and make contact with Erwin from Germany. Ruth got a very old tire pump from a relative living close by and, with a little oil and a lot of prayer, we got it to work and pumped up the spare.
Now we had the spare working, but no extra tire in case of trouble along the way. We learned that there was an all night tire repair shop in Oradea, and Samson, one of the brethren at the studies, offered to go along to direct us to the shop and help translate.
After a little looking, we found the shop where a small, but very spirited, Hungarian man was on duty. We showed him the tire and we asked him if he thought he could repair it. He said that he did not think so, but would try. After forty minutes of hard work, including trying to get enough glue from his last can, he had it fixed. What was the charge for this late night effort? 60,000 Romanian Lei, about two U.S. dollars!
With our newly fixed spare we were now ready to travel back through Hungary and Slovakia into Poland. At the Romania/Hungary border crossing, one of the guards asked us if we had any vodka for taxing purposes. We, of course, told him, “no.” He said, “you must have vodka.” Several times he repeated his question. Each time we insisted that we did not have any vodka, cigarettes, or any such matter. Finally said, “We are Christians.” I added that we were “Adventist.” He acknowledged that he understood. Then Jacek said, “We serve Jesus Christ.” At that the guard said in a disgusted sounding voice, “Jesus Christ, go on, get out of here.” As we drove off, I thought what a shame that this man wanted nothing to do with the Saviour.
Rendezvous: David Clayton
On Thursday, July 18, Slawek and I left the campsite at Orlik to travel by rail all the way to Gerlitz on the German border where we would be picked up by Elizabeth & Ewald, the parents of Erwin Zoor, who was our host in Germany. We set out early in the morning loaded with luggage. Allen had left a small suitcase for us to take for him as he had tried to travel light on the trip to Romania. Unfortunately, there were no cars available to take us to the railway station that was about a mile and a half away. However, there was a bicycle at the campsite. So we loaded our luggage onto the bicycle. It was a sight to see Brother Slawek with a heavy knapsack on his back pushing the bicycle while Brother Bogumit tried to balance the two smaller suitcases on the carrier at the back, with my large suitcase resting across the bar. It was drizzling slightly, but we were in cheerful spirits and more than a little amused as we set off down the road, a strange caravan indeed.
We got to the railway station in time and it was an emotional moment as I said goodbye to my friend Bogumit. Slavik and I set off on our long journey. We traveled all day and passed through towns, cities and rolling countryside, which was composed mostly of field after field of wheat. We passed through a few forests and woodlands and once I glimpsed a fox, another time a deer and twice I saw rabbits bounding away as the train approached. The buildings were, for the most part, quaint old buildings, many of them from before the Second World War. The buildings built afterwards were mostly bleak, sterile, and unattractive. They were crafted more for utility than for beauty. These, Slavik told me, were the products of the communist era. In the cities we passed there were row upon row of high rise tenement buildings, unpainted, drab, and ugly. There were many of them. One or two of them had been recently painted in bright rainbow colors and it was surprising to see what a dramatic change this made in the appearance of these buildings. One very nice thing about the people in Europe is that they greatly appreciate flowers. Around even the most modest dwellings we saw an abundance of beautiful flowers.
We were supposed to meet Allen and Jacek in Gerlitz. They were driving up from Romania to meet us at the German border. However, they waited at one train station while we arrived at another, and there was much consternation when they didn’t see us get off the train, and when we arrived at the next stop and did not see them. However, both parties were praying and when we took a taxi to the border crossing, Allen and Jacek arrived at the same spot, almost at exactly the same moment as we arrived. There was a further mix-up because Erwin’s parents, who were supposed to meet us at this border crossing, were actually waiting at the railway station on the German side of the border, having mistaken the meeting point. It took a phone call to Erwin and a phone call back to his parents and back to Erwin again, before we got things sorted out and were finally able to rendezvous with them.
By the time we left this border crossing it was ten o’clock at night. We traveled for five hours with Erwin’s stepfather driving all the way. At about 3:00 a.m. we arrived in Pappenheim; woozy, half-asleep, travel-weary, but glad to have arrived. It was a joy to meet Brother Erwin, who all this time, had been unable to sleep waiting for our arrival. He took us up to the top floor of a classic German building where he had his apartment, and gave us his bed while he slept on the couch.
Meetings in Germany
The next day we had a hearty meal at Erwin’s parent’s home. We both enjoyed this, but especially Allen because of the inclusion of the American staple item, Irish potatoes. Erwin’s mother, Elizabeth, was a dear lady, a true mother in Israel, who did everything to make us comfortable while we were there. We enjoyed the meals she prepared and were blessed by listening to her playing the keyboard, which she does very well. Her husband, Ewald, does not speak English, but there was no mistaking the welcome in his eyes and the goodwill in him. He was always willing to go out of the way to help us in any way possible.
We discovered that our meetings were to be held in a town called Altdorf, which was about 400 kilometers away. So on Friday afternoon we set off with Erwin, drove for four hours, and arrived near 6:00 p.m.. There we were met by Thomas and Brigit Friedrich and discovered that we would be staying at the home of Birgit’s mother, where the meetings would be held. There were already people waiting on us, so I quickly prepared myself, breathed a prayer, and stepped into the meeting room where I found about fourteen people sitting waiting to hear what we had to say.
My first impression of these folks was that they were unresponsive and many of the faces were impassive and unsmiling. However, there were one or two who helped me to relax. The lady who owned the house where we were having the meetings, Birgit’s mother, was especially encouraging and kept smiling and nodding her head, which did much to lift my spirit. Many thoughts went through my mind as I made my presentation. I did not speak the language of the people, but Brother Erwin was doing a good job of translating. However, in all my time in Europe so far I had seen only one other black person and this had been in a city in Poland. I did not know these folks, so I wondered what feelings lay behind the faces. However, I trusted in the guidance of the Lord, looked to Him for the right words to speak, and by the end of the meeting there were smiles and warmth on every face.
Later when all the meetings were over, I discovered that these brethren had been uncertain as to what kind of people we were. They had not known that there was anybody else in the entire world who believed as they did about God. They had never heard of Smyrna or Restoration ministries. When Brother Erwin had gotten in touch with them, having heard of them through a third party and tried to arrange for these meetings, and also to find out if there was anybody who was willing to accept the legal obligations for me being there, they had been very suspicious. The thought had come to them that maybe Jesuits were trying to infiltrate their little group. Furthermore, Brother Erwin’s German was so immaculate that they thought it was another thing to be suspicious about. First of all, they had declined to help with getting the papers for me to come to Germany and, afterwards, when they did agree for us to come there to have meetings, they were still somewhat suspicious. At the end of the meetings they told us all this very apologetically, and, of course, we had a good laugh and rejoiced that in spite of all this our God had overruled and brought us together. We learned to love each other very much. At the end of it all, as we were about to leave and I hugged Brother Thomas for the final time, there was a rush of tears to my eyes as he whispered, “I love you brother.” These meetings were very good and it was evident that the Spirit of God was with us throughout.
On one occasion two Jehovah’s Witnesses came to sit in on the meetings. As Allen spoke on the sonship of Jesus they seemed to agree with everything, even when Allen declared that Jesus was literally born from the Father. Later, however, as I showed that the Holy Spirit is the actual presence of the Father and His Son and not just a force, they became a bit agitated and, halfway through the sermon they excused themselves and left.
These meetings in Altdorf were a great blessing. The brethren were overjoyed to know that there was a movement all over the world that believed the truth as they had independently believed it for the past eight years.
On Sunday evening, with sorrow in our hearts, we bade goodbye to these dear brethren for we had to get back to Pappenheim so Erwin could get to work on Monday morning.
One other highlight of these meetings was the fact that Allen had the privilege of uniting Erwin and his fiancé, Claudia, in holy matrimony. This was an added joy, for the assembled believers to share in the happiness of this young couple who are evidently very much in love and very much desirous of putting God and His Son at the center of their lives. This was a surprise event for us. Erwin had been praying about this for many months and had felt impressed to ask Allen or me to perform this ceremony when we came to Germany. We helped him pray about the matter and had much counsel with them before the actual wedding took place. Finally, we were all convinced that this was what God wanted. So it was four of us instead of three who traveled back to Pappenheim on Sunday evening, arriving back at about 10 p.m.
The Work Spreading
While we were in Germany, Erwin also reported that he had shared the truth about God with a sister from Moldavia while he was in Romania. She had accepted the truth and decided to translate materials into her native language, Moldavian. She shared the materials with her father, who is a Russian. He also joyfully received the truth and decided to translate the materials into Russian to be shared with his countrymen. We were amazed, but thrilled to hear of this.
One striking thing we discovered is that the truth about God is making disciples who are willing to work without reward. Most of the people who embrace this truth are filled with a desire to share it with others in every way possible and are willing to make sacrifices for the truth without asking for any kind of reward in return. This is how it was in the time of the apostles. The truth was powerful then, as it is now, and this is why the truth about God and His Son will not die, in spite of all the efforts of so-called Christians to squash it. The greatest truth on the planet is the truth that there is only one God and that Jesus Christ is His son. This is the truth for Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Atheists, unbelievers, yes, and for Christendom too. No one who truly recognizes this truth, and the implications of such a truth, can ever remain the same. Immediately his concepts of God, sin and salvation will change dramatically. This is why this is the everlasting gospel to be carried to the ends of the earth and no power on this planet can stop it. Let those who oppose it fuss and rage and write. God will continue to infuse life into the truth and it will go from strength to strength until the whole world is covered with the glory of the Lord.
We flew out of Munich airport on Tuesday, July 23, headed for Oslo in Norway. We were greeted at the airport by the smiling face of Brother Kaj-Ronny Nilsen. We had never met him before, but there was no mistaking the welcoming smile and as soon as we saw him, we knew that it was he. Hanna, his 12-year-old step-daughter, was also with him. From the airport we traveled to a campsite by a lake (to my Jamaican eyes a huge lake), where scores of campers were parked. Here Brother Kaj-Ronny had parked his camper home, which consisted of a huge bus, which he had converted into a mobile home. For the duration of our time in Norway we would share this bus/camper with Brother Kaj, his wife, Katherine and their two children, Hanna, and Jonathan, who was only 10 months old.
For the first two days after we arrived the weather was gloomy. The sky was overcast, rain drizzled intermittently, and it was cold. Whenever we were outside of the bus we had to be continually fanning and swatting droves of mosquitoes that descended upon us. Many times I thought wistfully of sunshine and coconut trees. However, on the third day the sun came out and everything took on a rosier hue. The mosquitoes took a holiday and the weather warmed up. I found it easier to appreciate the clean beauty of the lake and the surrounding countryside.
On Wednesday we traveled a short distance from the lake to the home of Vidar Krishansen who were interested in the subject of the godhead. Sister Krishansen provided us with a wonderful meal of delicious vegetable soup and lovely homemade bread. Later, she complemented this with some refreshing watermelon. They had invited some other people to come to this meeting and there were about ten adults present for the study when we got there. Some were already more than half convinced of the truth, but there were one or two who had definite leanings towards the Trinity doctrine. We had many questions put to us and did our best to answer from the Bible. Towards the end of the meetings, which lasted about four hours, I did a presentation on the Holy Spirit that lasted about an hour. Afterwards there were still more questions. At the end, we all felt that the meeting had been a worthwhile one and that we had accomplished a good deal by the grace of God. Most of the people were convinced of the truthfulness of the position we have taken on the godhead and were persuaded that this is what the Bible teaches.
The following day, Thursday, we prepared to leave the campground to move on to the home of a brother and sister about an hour away from the campground where we would be staying for the weekend. In the evening, sometime after 5:00 p.m., we got the bus packed, secured everything so that nothing would roll about while the bus was moving, and said goodbye to the campground. The sun was still very high in the sky because Norway is geographically located very far north. At this time of the year night does not fall until after 11:00 p.m. and day breaks around 3:00 a.m. It always startled me a bit to look at my watch and see 10:30 p.m., and then to look outside and see broad daylight. I am afraid we did not get used to it and most nights found us going to bed late.
On the way to our next stop, the bus suddenly lost its clutch. There was difficulty in changing the gears and Kaj did not know what was happening. However, we stopped at a bus station and Allen and Kaj discovered that there was a leak in the system and that we were losing clutch fluid. As a result, there was air in the line and this was the reason for the clutch failure. Kaj and Allen walked about a kilometer to a service station where they were able to get some more clutch fluid and to borrow an oil can with which they pumped out the air (don’t ask me how) and finally we were able to get rolling again.
Soon we arrived at our destination, the home of Henning and Josefine Hansen. Initially there was some difficulty in getting the huge bus into the driveway of the home, but Henning, who had experience in driving buses, took over the wheel and brought the bus into the yard. We talked a little with our hosts and answered some questions, but did not say too much as it was by then late, and we would have the whole weekend to discuss the issue. Henning and Josefine were at first very cautious and a little uncertain about entertaining us in their home because they were of the impression that we denied the deity of Christ. However, they are honest and sincere people, with a deep desire to serve the Lord faithfully, so they had agreed to let us come and to listen to what we had to say.
Over the weekend we got to know and appreciate Henning, Josefine, and her younger sister Maret (who had come to visit for the meetings). Again, we allowed the Word of God to do the speaking and we were overjoyed to see the happiness expressed on the faces of Henning and Josefine, especially when they came to understand our position better. They thanked God for a better understanding of the nature of Christ, for a deeper appreciation of the truth that Jesus is truly the begotten Son of God, and better insight into how this truth guarantees, rather than downgrades, the divinity of Christ. On Sunday we said our goodbyes with deep regret. Our hosts expressed the hope that we would come again soon and we all gave thanks to God for having allowed us to come. We also said goodbye to Katherine’s (Kaj’s wife) father, who had driven some distance to also attend these meetings. He was a quiet but sincere man, who went out of his way to be kind to both Allen and me.
We had one more task before our work in Norway would be over. The following morning at 6:35 a.m. we would be flying out of Oslo on the way to Frankfurt, from where we would depart for the United States. On this Sunday evening however, we were scheduled to meet with a few people who had agreed to meet us in a camper/trailer park. So we waved goodbye to our newly made, but dear friends, and set off in the bus on the second to last leg of our Norwegian experience.
After about an hour we arrived at the trailer park. We drove around looking for a parking space among the hundreds of other campers that were already there. There was a problem because we needed a spot with electricity and these were difficult to find. Finally we found a spot. But, in attempting to park close to the electrical facilities, we found ourselves stuck in very soft muddy soil. All our attempts to dislodge the bus proved to be in vain. By this time three people had arrived for our study, but with our dilemma, we really were not in the best frame of mind for a Bible study. Finally, workers from the park sent a tractor over to pull us out. At first they had no cable. Then when they got one it broke, then finally they got shovels and ramps. Allen and dug around the wheels and then wedged the ramps against and under the wheels as much as possible. This did the trick and the bus, with the help of the tractor, heaved itself out of the mess amid great rejoicing.
During all the time that the drama concerning the bus had been progressing, I had decided to try to have some discussions with the folks who had come for the Bible study. While they were not wholly antagonistic to the truths which we were presenting, they were nevertheless not in agreement on several points, and they were interested in having some questions answered. I did my best, under the circumstances, while Allen busied himself with helping on the outside. Several times we had to break and step outside while some new strategy was attempted in an effort to dislodge the bus. It was a bit disconcerting to be studying the Bible while expecting every moment to feel our study room start to move. However, God blessed us, and when our guests had to leave, though there were still several questions that needed further clarification, we had said enough to encourage them to ask to be put on our mailing lists.
When the bus was once again mobile, Allen and I urged Kaj to not spend a part of the night at the campsite, but to leave immediately for the airport. By this time, having been away from home for three weeks we were raring to go and wanted nothing to happen to endanger our appointment with the plane in the morning. Kaj agreed and so we departed from the campsite. After the trauma of having our bus stuck in the mud, the authorities at the campsite were gracious enough to let us go without charging us anything.
The Return to America and Jamaica
Allen and I had a wonderful time in Norway, as in Germany and Poland. I had learned the great lesson that the only thing really worthwhile in traveling from place to place is meeting new brothers and sisters while spreading the truths of God’s Word. The sights and the sounds are only images in the mind that soon fade away. However, the friends and brethren found and made are treasures of eternal worth. Nevertheless, after three weeks, my heart was aching for home. I was finding it difficult to sleep at night and my thoughts were constantly turning to loved ones and familiar places and faces. So my heart was racing as we started for the airport on the last leg of the Norwegian trip.
Somewhere in Oslo we took a wrong turn and spent half an hour driving about while we tried to find our bearings. This gave us a good opportunity to get a look at Oslo and to see some aspects of it which we would not have seen otherwise.
Finally we arrived at the airport. It was still daylight, but close to 10:00 p.m. We found a gas station nearby where the attendant graciously allowed us to park the bus until morning. Tired, but happy, we settled down to rest. Remarkably, both Allen and I were able to sleep for a good portion of the remaining part of the night. I was up before three o’clock, however, and the others were not far behind. We arrived at the airport and were checked in long before it was time for the plane to leave for Frankfurt. Saying goodbye to and his family was a sad experience. It was amazing how quickly we had all become a part of each other’s lives. However, our sorrow at parting was tempered with the joy of knowing that our visit had helped to spark an interest, and to sow seeds in Norway, which would continue to grow until the coming of the Lord.
We flew into Frankfurt as the sun was beginning to warm up the countryside. From the window of the plane, I got a clear view of the German countryside and was amazed at how orderly and structured the landscape was. All the houses were neatly gathered into little towns. In between these were fields of neatly cultivated grain. Periodically there appeared patches of neat forests, with a network of roads linking everything together. It was the first country I had seen where even the landscape had been so carefully organized that the organizational pattern was so obvious from the air.
Getting out of Frankfurt was the worst part of our journey. The fear of terrorism made the security precautions extremely tight. Though the ten-hour flight to Charlotte, North Carolina was wearisome, we did not mind it too much since we were headed for home.
From Charlotte we took a smaller plane to Charleston where Allen’s family, was waiting for us. I am not able to describe our feelings at seeing them. The welcome and hugs I got in West Virginia were almost as many as Allen got and my happiness was matched only by the thrill of seeing my own family again, when I arrived in Montego Bay two days later.
There is one other aspect of the European trip which I must mention. While there I discovered that the countries which are a part of the European Union have abolished border checks. A person no longer has to use a passport, or even to pass through a border check, in order to move from one country to another. Most of the countries of the Union now use the Euro as the currency. Currencies such as the Franc and the Deutschmark no longer exist. As I listened to some of the developments within the European Union, I kept feeling a chill running up and down my spine. It is evident that the nations of Europe are attempting to recreate a super nation similar to the ancient Roman Empire. Yet at the same time, they are attempting to retain their individuality to some extent. My mind kept returning to that ominous verse in Daniel: “And whereas thou iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.” (Daniel 2:43) The feeling that I was standing in the midst of fulfilling prophecy kept impressing itself on my mind, and filled me with a sense of urgency to get the truth out to all the world while there is still time.?
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This month we wish to again ask our readers to be especially praying for more workers in the vineyard. “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:38) This note struck a cord in the heart of several who recognized the need for more to be actively full time engaged in the Lord’s work.
Please also keep the work in Africa and overseas in your prayers. For those readers of ours who also receive the publication, Hearth to Hearth, you know of the special need for God to work in a mighty manner in Kenya.
Brother Lynnford is also studying the possibility of visiting Asia. There are some positives as well as negatives issues at this time. Please ask our Father to help us to especially know the timing for such a visit. Allen Stump
Youth’s Corner - The Light of the World
Every soul is responsible for the talents entrusted to him; and in order for each to meet his individual responsibility, he must advance step by step, as Christ leads the way. He must stand on the high and holy ground which the progress of continually revealed truth has for ages and centuries been preparing for him. Accumulated light from Christ now shines amid the moral darkness of superstition and heresies that are flooding the world, and Christ’s followers are to come behind in no good thing, but to possess and reveal to the world, in character and works, that light which is appropriate for the age in which we live.
The path of holiness does not lie on a level with the world. It is “cast up;” and whosoever will look up from the sordid, unsatisfying things of this life, and seek diligently the Way, the Truth, and the Life, determined to follow Jesus, bearing his cross, will have the happiness of walking in this path, filled with the joy and rejoicing of the just. To those who follow this path, who walk in the way of God’s commandments, it will be as a “shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”
There are men professing Christ who are unconverted in heart. They are looking to the world, following the customs and practises of men, and they do not reflect the light of heaven. The things of the world interpose between God and their souls. “When thou art converted,” said Christ to Peter, “strengthen thy brethren.” Unless the converting power of God molds the life, everything within the sphere of our influence will become dwarfed, and die for want of the bright rays of the Sun of Righteousness. It is the design of God that his children shall become bright, shining lights to the world; but if that light is placed under a bushel, who is benefited by its rays?
There is danger that God’s commandment-keeping people will be found, as were the Jews, weighed in the balance of the heavenly sanctuary, and found wanting. Christ rebuked the Jews because, while in small matters they were so exact, paying tithes of mint and anise and cummin, they neglected the weightier matters of the law,—mercy, justice, and the love of God.
Our first work must be personal. The heart must be cleansed from every defilement, and sanctified by the truth. The love of Christ must burn upon the altar of the soul. Then, and then only, can we commend to others the things which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled of the word of life. And when we have done all in our power to dispel the darkness of error and doubt, of unbelief and infidelity, in the world, we must trust in God to do the rest. We must leave the issue in God’s hands, and not allow our interest and love to grow cold because iniquity abounds.
God calls for men who will bear a living testimony for him,—men who realize that they have been purchased at an infinite price,--that the world of which they form a part has cost the life of the Son of God. He wants his church to be composed of faithful witnesses, who will be a spectacle unto the world, to angels, and to men. Will you not, then, my brother, my sister, arouse, and search the Scriptures for yourselves, not only to make sure that your doctrines are correct, but to learn how you may live more fully to the glory of God, and how you may save souls for whom Christ has died?
Christ’s words to his followers are: “Ye are not your own; for ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” In our lives we must learn to show forth the praises of him who has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light. (Mrs. E. G. White—Youth’s Instructor, October 14, 1897)
Washington, Camp Meeting
September 20-22, 2002
Brother Elden Noyes would like to invite all those seeking to know the Lord better to attend the weekend camp meeting he will be hosting September 20-22, 2002. We want to encourage all who can to attend these meetings which will focus on knowing and experiencing God personally.
As well as spiritual food, physical food will be provided for those attending. Washington State can be cool in late September, especially in the evening, so be sure to bring plenty of warm clothing.
For the times of the meetings, what to bring, and other details, please contact Eldon Noyes at 509-548-5379 before 7:30 a.m. PST or after 8:00 p.m. PST, or you may call 509-782-2439 and leave a message.
From Wenatchee: Travel northwest out of Wenatchee on US Highway 2 for 16 miles. Turn left onto US Highway 97. Travel southwest on US-97 for 6 ½ miles until you see 3935 on a mailbox. This is the number for the home of Eldon Noyes. (Eldon’s driveway is 100 yards north of mile marker 197.) Turn into that driveway, which will be on your right (the west side of the road). If you pass the Ingall’s Creek Lodge and Trading Post, you have gone about ½ mile too far.
From Seattle: Travel west out of Seattle on Interstate 90 for 75 miles until you get to Cle Elum. Get off on exit 85 which will be a short jog to US Highway 970 (this highway runs parallel to, and just north of, Interstate 90). Once you are on US Highway 970 travel southeast for 10 miles until you reach US Highway 97. Turn left onto US Highway 97 and continue north for 28 ½ miles until you see 3935 on a mailbox. This is the number for the home of Eldon Noyes. (Eldon’s driveway is 100 yards north of mile marker 197.) Turn into that driveway, which will be on your left (the west side of the road). You will pass the Ingall’s Creek Lodge and Trading Post about ½ mile before you get to Eldon’s home.
Directory of Believers
(This notice was ran last month, and if space is available, we hope to run it again next month so as to give as many as are interested a chance to respond. Editor)
On Friday afternoon of the 2002 West Virginia camp meeting we held a meeting to discuss ways believers could work more efficiently together, and the need for greater cooperation among the churches around the world. We recognized that one way we could work together better would be to have a church and believer directory, listing the many Historic Seventh-day Adventist groups around the world who believe the truth about God and are unified on the rest of the early Seventh-day Adventist message. We discussed that this directory could include not only those groups that have been established with a permanent meeting place, but also those like-believers who are eager to have fellowship with others who share their faith, even if they do not yet have an established church fellowship in their area. In this way this directory could help to establish new Historic SDA church groups who believe the truth about God, as well as to help strengthen and expand existing church groups.
We often receive calls from people asking if we know of any like-believers who fellowship together in their area. Sometimes we are able to help them, and other times we are not. One thing that has hindered us somewhat in this area is that we do not give out a person’s phone number or address unless we have acquired their permission. Because we have not received permission from very many people, we are not at liberty to give out this information. This directory would provide us with that permission for those who volunteer it.
There are people who have received the truth about God and His Son, and believe the rest of the early Adventist message, who are isolated, without anyone to fellowship with. Many of these people do not realize that there may be others nearby, perhaps even in the same town, who also are isolated and without fellowship because they believe the same truths. This directory could help bring these people together, and also provide those of us who travel a church group with which to fellowship when we are in a distant location.
We realize that this is no small task. With the rapid growth of the movement, it will be very hard to keep updated and will, in time become impractical. However, we, with the great majority of the people at the camp meeting, believe that it is a workable idea. Perhaps a printed version of the directory could be followed up by up-dated editions on the Internet.
Let us state again for clarity: people or groups would only be included in this directory if they voluntarily requested that they be included. Use the form on page sixteen (or copy it on a piece of paper), and return it to us if you would like to be included in this directory. Fill in only the information, that you would like to appear in the church and believer directory and mail it to us at the address listed below.
We would like to stress that this directory is for Historic Seventh-day Adventists who believe the truth about God as well as the rest of the early SDA message. In order to avoid confusion, and to help insure that people are blessed rather than hindered by this directory, we will only include those people or groups that, to the best of our knowledge, maintain the true Historic SDA message.
We believe that this directory will help to network like-believers all over the world so that we can be more effective in our witnessing and more fruitful in our own lives. For those who have been isolated from fellowship, we pray that they will soon be able to say with David, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalms 133:1) We hope that this will also help us to heed the counsel of Paul when he wrote that we should, “consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24, 25)
Allen and Lynnford
Old Paths is a free monthly newsletter/study-paper published monthly by Smyrna Gospel Ministries, HC 64 Box 128-B, Welch WV 24801-9606. U.S.A. It is sent free upon request. The paper is dedicated to the propagation and restoration of the principles of truth that God gave to the early Seventh-day Adventist pioneers. Duplication is not only permitted, but strongly encouraged. This issue, with other gospel literature we publish, can be found at our web sites. The urls are: http://www.smyrna.org and http://www.presenttruth.info. Phone: (304) 732-9204. Fax: (304) 732-7322.
Editor: Allen Stump -
Associate Editor: Lynnford Beachy - E-mail email@example.com
Please also visit our Present Truth Website!
This page was last updated: Sunday, May 26, 2013