Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Ring – For The Romantics Out There

“I am discovering many things as we emerge from Soviet dominance,” said Jan Lacho, who runs a church in Slovakia’s capital, Bratislava, as well as leading the Pentecostal Movement. During Soviet times leaders were isolated by choice to protect the church. If one person was arrested and tortured they could not divulge any secrets which would expose the movement to more harassment, by design, no one person new everything.

During this time of emergence and growth I had the privilege to lead our church into a partnership which would help establish a foundation for the future of a church planting movement. By working with key missionaries, Jerry and Faith McCollough, Allison Park Church would identify and join in with the Pentecostal church to develop churches that doubled as training centers. We started in Seneca and continued to work in Humenne, Vranov, and Kosice.

It was during these travels that I roomed again and again with a couple young men, Stano and Miro. Both men continue to this day to be involved in the church in great ways. As friendships developed I found out that Stano wanted to get married to a young lady, Vera. Stano was in a two year mandatory state service and was assigned to the Pentecostal Church. While rooming together on one trip I decided that perhaps Cathy and I could help him get a ring for Vera. I understood that it was difficult to get a diamond during this time in Slovakia and couples settled for cubic zirconium rings.

Upon returning to the states Cathy and I collected some magazine flyers advertizing rings so when returned I could show Stano so I placed them into my suitcase. Here is where God began to move…

A few days before I was to leave for Slovakia and with no one else knowing what Cathy and I were planning to do, I sat in my office completing a few last minute items when I heard a knock at the door. Agnes Sapp stood looking at me with a box in her hand. She said, “You might think I am crazy but God told me to give you this wedding ring set for Slovakia.” My jaw dropped to the ground as I asked her to come in and sit. I had a story to tell her. I explained what I had experienced over the last few trips into the country, who Stano and Vera were, and what Cathy and I were planning to do. She cried and handed me the ring.

Within a few days I was on my way back to the country I learned to love, its people, scenery, warmth and of course the men and women who I considered heroes, willing to give all to reach the nation. Again I roomed with Stano and Miro.

A few days into the trip I sensed the time was right. I asked Stano a few times about Vera. His eyes lit up each time. I wanted to know if he was serious. “Would you propose now if you had a ring,” I asked? “Yes,” was the immediate reply. I told him to sit down; I had a story to tell him.

I recounted the story of my last trip and the feelings that Cathy and I had and how we wanted to help him with a ring. I explained that I was prepared to show him some advertisements of places in the United States that we could look for a ring. All he had to do was pick out something we could afford. I told him how just before I was to get on the plane God sent Agnes with an amazing gift. I slowly pulled out of my pocket the little black box and opened it setting it on the table in front of Stano and Miro. Both men’s jaws dropped gapping open for several minutes.

Miro commented, “Stano, this is a miracle, you got to do this!” Stano could not believe his eyes. There sat a real diamond ring for his acceptance. He decided that this was from God and he accepted the ring. About a year later they were married. On another trip I asked if the ring fit. Stano said, “It was the right size, no adjustment needed!”

Don’t you just love how God works?

This is your investment. This is your joy.

Mark Szymanski

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