E-book: God's Bulgarian tapestry (Part 17)
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by Howard Culbertson
Some Parental Threads
"Dr. Culbertson is going to Bulgaria in
September. He'll be glad to take anything you want to send." That's what Loren Gresham
said in the late summer of 1994 to relatives and friends of the first Bulgarian volunteers.
Through four years of college, parents sent favorite snack
foods, clothing, and other things to their sons and daughters. When the son or daughter moved
across the Atlantic, those parents wanted to do the same thing. However, they soon discovered
how expensive mailing a box overseas can be. That's especially true if it goes by air!
When Dr. Gresham said that SNU had someone who could
take packages to Bulgaria, parents and friends came to campus to drop off boxes and even a full
suitcase or two. A call went out for "big" suitcases in which to try to pack all that stuff. Two
really enormous ones showed up. Somehow everything fit inside! They were packed and
repacked to get them at the weight limit of 70 pounds per bag.
Those American volunteers in Bulgaria were right in the
middle of some culture shock when those suitcases arrived. So there
was a real morale boost as the contents of those packed suitcases were distributed. It was like
"Christmas in September."
A first concern of prospective volunteers was about how
their parents would react. Many have said: "What will my parents think? They're still
reeling from my college costs. They think I should find a job right away. How can I convince
them I should give my first year out of college to volunteer missionary work?"
In the spring before the first group left for Bulgaria, Philip
Rodebush's dad partially answered those questions. It happened over lunch at El Pollo Chulo.
That's a Mexican food restaurant about a mile from the Southern Nazarene University campus.
Eating there with me one day, Harold Rodebush fell silent and began gazing out the window.
He got a faraway look in his eyes. Taking a deep breath, he
looked back at me. Then, he said, "I don't know how we'll do it. But we'll do all we can to
Evangelicals have watched young Mormons put career
ambitions on hold for a year or two of volunteer evangelism. Usually, their immediate family
supports them during that year of volunteer service. Not long after a baby is born, Mormon
families begin saving funds for his or her "mission" years.
The parents of the Bulgarian volunteers are not like Mormon
parents. At the birth of their sons and daughters they had not begun putting aside money for that
volunteer missionary work. Still, Rev. Rodebush's resoluteness to help Philip respond to God's call is symbolic of the willingness of most parents. Most have gladly
made necessary sacrifices to put a son or daughter in the Bulgarian tapestry.
As young people have committed themselves to go, parents
voiced worries about safety in eastern Europe. During the Cold War, those parents spent years in
fear of the communist menace. Still, even with all the fearful unknowns, these parents have
strongly supported the pioneer venture that whisked their children away for a year. Parents have
found themselves asking the question: Do I really mean it when I sing "I Surrender All" in
Fortunately, they've been able to respond: "Yes, I
really did mean all -- including my children."
Most of these parents have done far more than contribute
their offspring for the team. They have helped mobilize prayer support.
To local congregations they've passed along news gleaned from letters and telephone calls.
They've duplicated and mailed monthly support letters from team members. Their own letters to
the field are sources of encouraging support.
In many important ways the parents of team members are
essential threads in the Bulgarian tapestry. . . . [ continue
The emerging pattern of the tapestry
middle of Genesis 3, the dust began to settle across the universe after Adam and Eve's
cataclysmic choice. In the awfulness of that moment, God stepped forward to promise a
Redeemer for His rebellious creatures. The account of how God keeps that promise is the story of
the Bible. God's call to Abraham included the promise that through Abraham all peoples of the
earth would be blessed (Genesis 12). That promise included Bulgaria! So, it's no surprise to see
God using Abraham's spiritual descendants in Bulgaria. . . . [ read
SNU missions course materials and syllabi
Howard Culbertson, 5901 NW 81st, Oklahoma
City, OK 73132 | Phone: 405-740-4149 - Fax:
Updated: January 31, 2019
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