SLOVENIA - When people ask me my favorite things about living in Slovenia, the forests are often at the top of my list. I love the opportunities I have to walk in the woods and get distance from the busy life of ministry.
Last winter, Slovenia suffered a terrible ice storm. Close to 40 percent of Slovenia's forests were destroyed. Sitting in my apartment last winter, we could hear trees creaking and crashing in the forest nearby.
The first time I went for a walk in the woods after the storm, I was stunned at the damage. It looked like the aftermath of a tornado, entire sections of the hill with trees leveled to the ground, mangled branches strewn everywhere. I couldn't find my path. A few stubby trunks still stood looking assaulted and humiliated without branches.
In some ways, the mess of the forest is similar to the current spiritual state of the world. Christianity in Slovenia has been through a storm.
Despite a long history of faith here, years of war in which religion was used on one side followed by communism have left people disillusioned with Christianity. The growth of the evangelical church in Slovenia is at about negative .2 percent, making it the fifth slowest growing church in the world.
The forest reminds me of Romans 8:19,
“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.”
Since the storm, huge cleanup efforts have been made, but the forest is still not the beautiful place it used to be. It will take years of growth to be as beautiful as it was. Even now, dead trees clutter the ground and heavy rains erode the barren hillsides.
I've seen how fragile creation is. The forest was thrown into chaos and ugliness by ice. But God created the forest and the ice. He's also bringing in new growth where the land has been laid bare.
God is still working.
How kind of Him to continue to come, even to this place in shambles, to clean up the mess and make room for new growth. I pray in faith that God is bringing new life into this land, making it more beautiful than the forest could ever be.
Pray with us for God's guidance in clearing up spiritual confusion and for the seed of His gospel to bring new life to Slovenia.
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