Thursday, August 28, 2008


Siedlce made national headlines last month. From what I've gathered, one of the major gang/mafia/ drug cartel's in Poland had chosen Siedlce as a semi-annual meeting place. A special police task force, from Warsaw and similar to Elliot Ness and his "Untouchables", had been hunting them for some time. The cartel used Siedlce for a few reasons, one being that many local police were on the cartel's payroll in exchange for information and a "heads up" on any raid. The corruption was so bad in Siedlce that the task force kept them completely in the dark as to their intentions. Two weeks prior to the raid the special task force made a call into the Siedlce police department and gave simple instructions. "In a few weeks someone from our unit will call in and say one word, (for illustrations sake lets say the word was kielbasa). When you receive that phone call and hear "kielbasa" send three ambulances to this location." Because of potential leaks, that is all the information they could give our beloved police department. A few weeks later the raid went down and, according to the article, most of the major players were apprehended. They'll be sent to prison and probably never be heard from again. The lesson here, crime does pay in Poland, just not all the time.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Interesting Times

Drudge Report headlined it's web page today with the words "Showdown: Russia Vows Shield Response Beyond Diplomacy." You can click on the title to read the full article, but in short, the Russian rhetoric is flying and at "cold war" levels. To say that the Polish people have a dislike and distrust for the Russian government is an understatement. The recent events in Georgia and the new missile shield arrangement that the US made with Poland has only added to the tension. Russia is now threatening nuclear response. Is there a good chance that it's only rhetoric at this point? Yes, but having been subjected to tyranny for so many years, the Polish now take nothing for granted.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Arab Christians

Poland has very few Muslims, although the numbers are growing. I read an interesting article by Steve Davis at Sharper Iron the other day titled "Is Allah the Father of Jesus?" The article gave good food for thought so I've pasted it below.

Frequently when speaking on the subject of Islam, I’ve encountered opposition to the idea that Arab believers use the word “Allah” in referring to God. Most of the objections stem from a misunderstanding of the Arabic language and of the historical and cultural use and development of the word “Allah.” It is understandable that to untrained Western ears and in the midst of current world crises that the word “Allah” be almost exclusively associated with radical Islam. However, it is unacceptable for American Christians to insist that Arab Christians not use “Allah” and find another word for deity. How then should we respond to the question, “Is Allah the Father of Jesus?”

From my travels to the Middle East, I have seen and heard “Allah” used by Christians in their prayers, singing, and in reading Scripture. Whatever the origin of the word, it means “God” or “god” just like the English word. It is true that “Allah” does not specifically refer to the Christian God. Neither does our English word. Do we require more precision for Arab believers than we do for ourselves? Of course, as Christians we also use Jesus, Jehovah, Lord, etc. Arab believers do the same, but in no way does that negate the use of Allah. For example, John 1:1 in an Arabic translation reads “And the word was with Allah and the word was Allah.”

A recent suggestion that Arab believers use the phrase “God of Israel” does little to clarify the issue. Apart from reading “God of Israel” in the Bible, I do not think Arab Christians would regularly or publicly use this fuller name for God, especially in light of the current political situation. Yet even if someone says, “God of Israel” where “God” translates “Elohim,” it would still be “Allah of Israel.” It has been objected that since Muslims deny that Allah has a son that Arab Christians cannot proclaim that “Jesus of Nazareth is the son of Allah.” I have seen this argument bolstered by the declaration that the “god” of liberals is not the “God” of the Scriptures. Yet the fact that the god of the liberals is not the God of the Scriptures does not mean we no longer use the word “God.” Moreover, I must ask if saying “Jesus of Nazareth is the son of Allah” in Arabic is any more objectionable than saying “Jesus of Nazareth is the son of God” in English?” when many religionists use the word “God” to identify someone far removed from a scriptural description.

When a Bible-believing Christian says, “I believe in God” and a liberal says, “I believe in God,” there is historical and linguistic commonality with theological differentiation. Only deeper investigation reveals what someone means by using the general word “God” whether in Arabic or in English. It has been noted that in speaking of Allah, Muslims and Christians speak of the same subject but differ in the predicates they say about him. When Arab Christians say that Jesus is the Son of Allah, they are saying what no Muslim can say. But they can and do say it because Allah is the normal translation of the Hebrew “Elohim” and the Greek “Theos.”

It is wishful thinking to imagine that Arab Christians should find another word rather than Allah any more than Bible-believing Christians should stop using the word “God” since liberals use it to mean something else. Certainly there are words that are needed to fuller qualify the identity of “Allah.” Perhaps we should frame the issue differently and ask the question “Is the Father of Jesus the God of Mohammed?” rather than argue about what word to use. Muslims will not call Allah “Father,” but Arab Christians do (there’s a book written by a Muslim woman who converted to Christianity titled I Dared to Call Him Father). Additionally, we may be able to distinguish between “God” and “god” in English, but for spoken purposes there is no distinction in English, and in Arabic there is no capitalization.

We should not ignore the fact that historically Arab Christians used “Allah” long before Islam was founded as a religion. Islam hijacked the word, which represents two contracted Arabic words “il” and “ilah” (the god). Some have called for Arab Christians to clarify what is confusing for mono-linguistic English speakers who know of “Allah” only from a biased Western context. Why? It is not confusing to Arabic believers. When they say “Allah,” they know who they are referencing.

Obviously, in witnessing to Muslims in an English-speaking context, one might prefer using “God” to “Allah.” Regardless of what word might be used, the identify of God or Allah as the Father of Isa must be made clear, and that task presents a major stumbling block for the Muslim believer. What we must not do is attempt to impose on Arab Christians a burden we ourselves have not borne—to ask them to deny their history, their language, and their culture in order to appease the troubled minds of American Christians who recoil at the sound of “Allah.” Let Arab Christians declare “Allahu Akbar,” and we will respond in kind—“God is great!” In answer to our title question, we should respond in the affirmative. For Arab-language Christians, Allah is most certainly the Father of Jesus.

Friday, August 8, 2008

His First Stitches

Well, Caleb got his first stitches today. The rite of passage for every boy, unfortunately, being a Stover and a twin means he will probably get more than his fair share in the future(yes, I've already warned them about the dangers of barbed wire fences). Today was a very windy day and he had his hand on the door frame when the door slammed shut. I heard him yell and knew there was a real problem. It popped the thumbnail off and his finger looked like pre-cooked meatloaf in the school cafeteria. Fortunately it's not broken, but he did get five stitches. Ginger took him to the hospital and got a firsthand glimpse into the efficiency of the Polish healthcare system. She counted seven different rooms and lines that she waited in with our hurting son. Definitely not the best way to run a hospital but what can you do? He's doing fine and thinks the stitches are cool but he's bummed that he can't play Star Wars Legos on PS2 for a few days. All that's left now is for the Stover family tradition where dad removes the stitches. Just don't tell Ginger about that one.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

THE BIG "30"

Turned 30 on Sunday, Ginger and the kids surprised me with an early birthday cake at camp. What could be better than a tower of Polish donuts.

Sunday, August 3, 2008


Yesterday we wrapped up our teen camp with a ten hour bus ride home. The camp was held in southern Poland within 1 km of the Slovakian border. During communism, this region was often used to smuggle people in and out of the country. The terrain could be compared to the hills of Tennessee and thus impossible to maintain total control of the border. Thank you for your prayers, twenty-six attended the camp and we are thanking God for the seven teens who trusted Christ. The majority of the teens that attended come from Christian families in our church so it was exciting to see them make their own decisions about following Christ. We stayed in something similar to a hostel in the States, the caretakers are Christians, and it's owned by a Baptist church in Wrocław, Poland. They gave us some encouraging news about our kids' language acquisition when they told us that it wasn't until Saturday that they realized our children weren't Polish. They had heard them conversing with the other kids in Polish and said they spoke perfectly. As far as Ginger and I are concerned, they weren't fooled by our Polish, but it was a great week of total immersion in the Polish language. By the end of the week I was ready to give Polish a rest for a few days. Our kids absolutely loved it, when we got home last night Bradey said, "oh man, now it's back to our boring house."