We'll Understand It All By And By

I had the privilege to be on the Sing & Sail Cruise to New England, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick last week. One of the musicians was Eduard Klassen, who grew up in a Russian Mennonite Colony in the jungles of Paraguay. He is now an internationally known harpist, traveling all over the world, playing his harp (not a harmonica- a real harp) and telling his story.

Here are two of the many amazing stories he told this week:

“One day a man from Canada came into our village and preached the gospel of Jesus Christ in our own language. Although we were very religious and went to church three times a week, he made us aware that religion won't save you. Only the blood of Jesus can save a man. We had never heard that before. We were taught that if we follow the rules and dress a certain way and do certain things, we would go to Heaven. And only our church would go! But this man said Jesus came for the whole world!”

Eduard then told how he was eventually converted from religion to Christ as a result of the seeds planted during this man's visit. He tells this story every time he has a concert. Several years ago, thirty some years after he first heard this man, Eduard was telling this story at a concert in Canada. After the concert a man came up and said, “Eduard, I can't believe you told that story of the preacher.” With tears in his eyes the man said, “I was that man. I never knew, until tonight, that my visit to your village made any difference in the Kingdom! You are traveling all over the world telling many more people than I ever did about Jesus. You have fulfilled the longing in my heart to know if my life counted. Thank you!”

When Eduard was ten or twelve years old there was a commotion in his village. “Come! Look!” Everyone ran out to the edge of the village and there in the field was a plow! Not a one-horse walk behind plow, which is the only kind he had ever seen, but a plow with a seat! You could plow sitting down! He couldn't believe it! Sit and plow at the same time! Someone from the US had sent this plow for the whole village to help the people. Everyone wanted to plow.

When Eduard told this story several years ago in northwest Ohio (he couldn't remember where- near Archbold) a man came to up to talk to him after the concert. “Eduard, I can't believe you told that story! That was my plow! One day many years ago we got a request from MCC. 'Does anyone have a horse drawn plow that could be sent to the Mennonites in El Chaco, Paraguay?' We had sold our horses years before, so I found our old rusty riding plow half buried and dismantled it and cleaned it and painted it and boxed it up and sent it to MCC, who shipped it to Paraguay. That's the last I heard of it. I had forgot about it- until tonight. I never thought that someday I would meet one of the Paraguayan men who used our old plow! And was even blessed by it! Blessed by our old plow! And it took so little for us to send it to you.”

When I worked construction, it was easy to measure what had been accomplished each day. You could see the difference that eight hours made when you looked back at your work at quitting time. Not so in ministry. Sometimes you wonder if anything happened. Is what I'm doing making a difference? There is no “measuring stick.” And then I hear the stories of Eduard Klassen.

His enthusiastic testimony and stories in his German accent (English is his sixth (!) language) kept us captivated. We laughed and cried and were encouraged by his life and music. He reminded us to be thankful for the little things: shoes, food, electricity, good houses, family... And he reminded us to not take our salvation in Christ for granted. There are people like Eduard who will never hear the gospel unless someone goes. Unless someone gives. Unless someone prays.

“...how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?” Romans 10:14,15

“If you reap having not sown, someone else did the sowing. Be humble. If you sow and do not reap, someone else will reap. Be faithful.” -Steve Wingfield (quoting his professor)

Get to know Eduard Klassen: www.eduardklassen.com

Common Ground Ministries

John was singing in a country western band at the time of his conversion in 1972. God changed his desire for stardom in Nashville to minitstry.

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