A few weeks ago, we were at church going through our regular routines of worship and fellowship when a Ukrainian lady tapped Melissa on the shoulder after hearing her speaking English. This lady did not understand any Romanian language used in church that day, but she had seen a sign about the Ukrainian church service at our church. Ira and her daughter were refugees in our city of Bucharest in the country of Romania who were in need of help finding a place to stay. The mother wanted to return to Ukraine while helping her daughter get the visa needed to go to Canada, but the embassy was holding their passports. So, what we thought was going to be a regular Sunday took a turn with a “blessed interruption”. We worked connections, figured out how to communicate with these ladies, and secured a free and safe place to stay. God decided to interrupt our “regularly scheduled programming” not just for Sunday, but for Monday as well. It turned out to be a major blessing, spending time with these two ladies. Bucharest traffic is sure to be an interruption on any given day, but it gave us ample time to talk to these ladies and hear their stories. They told us about bombs landing near their home and God’s miraculous protection over them. We shared laughs, tears, and everything in between. When we finished our journey to the place where they were staying, we helped them get settled in, had a final prayer, and said goodbye. It turned out to be a delightful yet humbling interruption to our regular lives.
Early in the Ukrainian war crisis, the president of the seminary here in Bucharest made a profound comment. He said, “We are practicing the theology of interruption.” Everyone’s lives here had already been interrupted by the pandemic, but just as some of the restrictions loosened and everyone was trying to get back to some sense of normalcy, the war brought another instant interruption in the form of refugees. What is God doing in these interruptions? The Gospels give us a glimpse of the famous miracle of Jesus feeding the 5,000. At the beginning of the chapter in Luke’s account, we see Jesus had sent his disciples out to preach and heal. Around the same time, they received news of the death of John the Baptist. These men were likely and understandably tired, excited, grieved, and ready for a retreat with Jesus. Instead of resting in a desolate place, they were met with a huge crowd of people. It was back to work. At the end of the day, they were surely even more tired, hungry, and ready to be done when Jesus said something crazy, “You give them something to eat!” In this situation, Jesus used tired, inadequate, hungry men to serve as He performed one of the greatest miracles ever known. He blessed the fish and the loaves, but the disciples took the food to the people and did the clean-up afterward. Jesus modeled to us on that day His plan to reach people: using US. Jesus and the disciples experienced a major and inconvenient interruption, but from this example, we see our adequate Jesus use inadequate people to reach other inadequate people.
For the team here in Romania, there have been days when we simply did not know what to expect. Maybe the need was to drive, provide childcare, find housing, prepare meals, shop for supplies, load trucks/vans, make border runs, or any other number of things for the flood of refugees with whom we were not previously interacting. As we hear stories of God’s protection, provision, comfort, and yes, even salvations that have happened in this extended time of interruption, we continue to see that Jesus is sufficient! These God-sized needs require a God-sized solution. These needs continually point us toward Him. No matter our current circumstances, the question remains- when ministry interrupts our lives or God interrupts our lives, how will we respond? The disciples, despite their inadequacies, obeyed in that moment, and now we have a miracle recorded in all four gospels that still echoes through eternity. What will God do with us that interrupts our lives and echoes in eternity? When He brings the masses to us and says something crazy like, “You give them something to eat,” will we obey Him? Will we learn to embrace the ministry of interruptions?…Now prayerfully and hopefully, back to our regularly scheduled programming and routines!