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So what do you do all day? A fair question that I get when I am in the States and through the occasional email from one of you. I get it often from my neighbors and friends in Croatia. Let’s face it, my job is weird!

The formal answer is that, “I am the director for the Croatian Representative Office of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. We work with the Croatian Baptist Union and other Christian groups. We work through specific projects designed to help people in practical and spiritual ways.”

Most of our non-Baptist Croatian friends respond with something like, “So, you’re a foreigner who is here as a missionary.” Recently, unless a formal situation demands otherwise, I have changed my response to better communicate exactly what we do. Also, I change it according to how I think the person will best understand what I am trying to say. So, what does this have to do with bees in the chimney.

A few weeks ago my wonderful wife called the chimney sweeper. Now, I do things like prepare for winter in November but Elise, being wise, prepares early. The apprentice came to the house and checked our chimney from the gas heating system and everything was fine. Then, he and I went to the attic, I helped remove some roof tiles and he got on the roof to check the chimney from the wood burning ceramic heater. He came back moments later and said we had a big problem.

I don’t know why but it is typical for a home repair guy here to assume once he has discovered a big problem his part of the job is done. It is as if he was saying, “Wow! I am glad I don’t have that enormous hive of bees in my chimney. Good luck finding someone to clean that for you.” He was packing up to leave but I talked him into checking the chimney from the ceramic heater up but the results of that are another story.

Those moments delayed his exit long enough to ask about these bees. He told me there was a huge hive completely blocking the chimney and that it was a couple of meters below the chimney opening. I asked who I should call to have them cleaned out and, when I got no satisfactory answers, asked why a chimney sweep would not want the job.

Well, you would have thought I had asked him to travel to the moon. It would be very hard and very expensive and we have never done it before and I have not even heard of this before and….on and on and on. I told him I did not care and wanted his company to come back and clean my chimney starting with the bees.  We agreed on a price and he promised to get his boss to come back.

Monday afternoon this man, his boss and a 15 year-old student apprentice came to the house with a mission. They had long, strong cables with different types of attachments on the ends. These are typically used to scrub chimneys but today would be used to poke holes through a bee hive and then to scrub the chimney. The had a fancy extendable mirror and a minature camera designed to be dropped into chimneys to discover all sorts of interesting problems.

The job took two hours but they cleaned my chimney. The bees were not happy and the boss was stung once by a bee who took up residence in his glove. The hive was huge, about two meters in depth and the width of the chimeny.  The boss had cleaned bee hives out of chimneys before but had never seen one like this.

While they were cleaning the chimney they asked what I did. I answered, “I tell people about God’s love for them and help them discover how to have a relationship with God.” I was able to share the gospel with these three men, give them a New Testament and answer several questions about my work and my faith.

Bees in the chimney and sharing of the gospel do go together! Who would have thought it? Does my strategy and missiological approach include recruiting bees to the chimney so that I can share my faith with chimney sweepers? Not in a million years but God provides divine encounters.

So, what do I do? I strategize, travel, talk, theorize, email, call, talk some more, and then go to a seminar to help me strategize and theorize some more. I plan the work and work the plan. While all of that is true, MOSTLY I HANG ON AND SEE WHAT DIVINE ENCOUNTERS GOD HAS PLANNED AND I TRY TO ADJUST TO HIM.

By the way, one of the chimney sweeps is about to get married, has been to our church worship service before with a friend who is a member there, and he has an interest in knowing God. You could remember him today.

Sunday, I asked you to pray for my contentment with being confined (imprisoned) due to pneumonia.  I was able to go to our church's worship service but only lasted for about one hour.  For some of you that is enough to get through the whole thing.  I did not even get to the preaching.  I am content but still needing to work at home, talk as little as possible and get plenty of rest.

Last, this link is the blog of Rick Thompson, the pastor of Council Roads Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I find his blog to be spiritually encouraging and challenging. Click on it to read his most recent entry on moving from cultural Christianity to Biblical Christianity.




Reader Comments (2)

I am greatly blessed to read these blogs from Trey and Elise.I always lift them up in my prayers.

Could you please send these blogs directly to me? At present, they are being sent to another person-marie.sheeley who used to share my computer but doesn't anymore. She forwards them to me.

In Christ's Love, Rhonda Phillips


September 28, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterRhonda Phillips
Hey Rhonda, It is great to hear from you! It has been few years since Springfield days. I hope and trust you are doing well. I will make sure your address information is updated on our mail list. Thanks.

September 29, 2006 | Registered CommenterTrey and Elise Atkins

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