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  • Writer's pictureMarlin Bjornrud

A Traveler's Trilogy

From 1990 to 2009, God graced me with the opportunity to bring my teaching ministry to Poland, Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and even the Caribbean. There were many memorable experiences. Here are three of them.

When The Wall Came Down

A Traveler's Trilogy Part 1

Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

Those were the famous words of President Ronald Reagan in 1987, while standing at the wall that divided East Berlin and West Berlin during the cold war. Then, on November 9, 1989, the wall did come down!

In April of 1990, four months after the Berlin wall had come down and the Soviet Union had fallen, my two traveling companions and I drove from Frankfurt to Berlin. This would begin a three-week trip around Eastern Europe for the purpose of making contact with believers and setting up future English Language Camps. But, since we were in Germany, we decided that we needed to take a side trip to Berlin and observe a piece of history.

Here is an excerpt from my journal:

“We got to the wall! Found it on our own. It was very special to walk along this historic boundary. We mainly saw piles of stones and rubble, but the beauty of the sight was what it represented: freedom! Each of us made sure that we grabbed a stone from one of the piles. My piece of the wall will be a memorable treasure. It was amazing to watch people so easily walking through the open gates, joking with guards on both sides in an atmosphere more like the U.S.A., than Berlin.

Standing at the wall, I felt very happy for these people and the new freedom they now have. But, I also thought of Jesus’ words in John 8 about how the truth sets us free from bondage to sin. So many of these German people remain slaves of sin and are heading for an eternal prison camp, where there will be judgment.”

What a night that was! When we got to our hotel room, we talked about walls. Not just the one that stood between East Berlin and West Berlin, but the wall of sin that separates man from his creator, God. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) “Your sins have separated you from your God” (Isaiah 59:2)

Thank God, that through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross, our sin is paid for! Through repentance and surrender to Him, we can be reconciled to God. (Romans 5:6-11)

Has that wall of sin in your life been torn down by the salvation and forgiveness found only in Christ? If so, stop right now, and give thanks! If not, what is holding you back? That wall has to go!

I may never go to Berlin again, but every day, I can go to the scriptures and be reminded of Christ’s loving sacrifice, and that on July 11, 1964, the wall of sin that separated me from God was torn down, as I repented and received Jesus into my life, as Savior and Lord.


Into The Hands Of God

A Traveler's Trilogy Part 2

The castle at Toalmas, Hungary, has a long history, having been constructed in 1895. It was used by Hungarian royals, and then when Hungary became part of the Soviet Union block of nations, it was used as a hunting lodge for communist party members. After the Soviet Union fell in 1989, a Hungarian socialist trade union rented the castle to an evangelical ministry called “Word of Life.” This ministry provided camps for children and teenagers every summer, presenting the gospel of Jesus to Hungarian youth. I had the opportunity to visit the castle in the spring of 1990, and then in the next years, I taught at two missionary conferences, that were held in this castle. Never in a million years could I have imagined that I would one day stand in a Hungarian castle, where communist leaders had gathered, and have the privilege of teaching the truth of God’s word! On another visit to Hungary, I spoke at a conference that was held in an old communist school outside of Budapest. For years, this school was used to train future communist leaders. I was so humbled and excited to stand and teach God’s word from the same stage, where teachers had formerly taught the communist doctrines of Karl Marx to the young people of Hungary. A castle, once used as a gathering place for communist leaders, now in the hands of God. A school, once used for training youth to be communist leaders, now used for worshiping the true God and for teaching His word. The prophet Isaiah declared, “He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than He blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff. To whom will you compare Me? Or who is My equal? says the Holy One.” Isaiah 40:23-24 From the hands of communism into the hands of God! To God be the glory, great things He has done! The sovereign God will always have the last word.


A Foretaste Of Heaven

A Traveler's Trilogy Part 3

In February of 2004, my wife and I had a glorious time on a ship called the Veendam. We boarded her in Tampa, Florida, and spent six full days in the Western Caribbean, with stops at the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, and Costa Maya, Mexico.

Early in the week, we made friends with a crew member named Fernando. He was from the Philippines, and was a follower of Jesus. He shared his salvation testimony with us, and we enjoyed sweet fellowship together all week.

Fernando was leading a Christian fellowship group, made up of crew members and musicians. They met every Wednesday evening at midnight in the ship’s theater. Fernando found out that I was a pastor and invited me to speak at this worship service. I was honored!

We gathered in the theater at midnight. There were twenty-five to thirty people there, from the USA, Indonesia, the Philippines, Africa, Europe, and other places around the world. They worshiped joyfully, as one man played an old, out of tune guitar. The words to the songs were handwritten on a flip chart that sat on a folding chair. It was beautiful!

After the singing, I talked about the One Another teachings and how the practice of them can help us preserve the unity of the Spirit, no matter what nations we come from.

I believe that on a cruise ship somewhere in the Western Caribbean at midnight, my wife and I were given a foretaste of heaven! When the Apostle John was taken up in a vision to heaven, he witnessed a worship service that he described in Revelation 7:9-10: “I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice, Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

One day, Jeannine and I will worship again with Fernando and his group. This time, we will be standing before the throne of God, and before Jesus Christ. What a time that will be!

Will you be there? If you have trusted Jesus for salvation, you will be part of that worship service with us. All aboard!

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