Saturday, April 2, 2011

Vasilis, That's His Real Name

I became aware of Vasilis (Va_si’_lis) in the early 1960s. I was pastor of the Ridglea Church in Fort Worth, Texas, and frequently on-and-off the campus of the fledgling Bible College Max R. Gaulke founded in Houston a decade before, shortly after I entered the ministry of that state.

Vasilis arrived in the Greek village of Agridion at the home of Dinos and Dina on January 30, 1938. He spent his childhood there although the family is now resident in at least three nations: Greece, America, and Sweden. He early years in the tiny village centered around lamplight, the village well (the vrisis) and the caffeine at the village center, a bit primitive for most of us, but a good family life and a happy childhood.

This bright young Greek lad later connected with Amrican Christians and President Gaulke invited him to Gulf-Coast Bible College. Missionary Nick Zazanis had a hand in Vasilis coming from Athens to America and I had met son, Paul Zazanis, at Anderson College, along with Tim Conkis. Tim Karametris, Toula Veikos, and others from our Greek speaking congregations of that era.

Following those early student years in Houston, Vasilis and his new bride made a striking couple whenever we crossed paths with them at North American Convention, the Houston-based Ministers’ Institute, et al. I was newly retired when I finally became personally involved with Vasilis. From then until he retired, we shared as peers, but I sat under his ministry as often as circumstances would allow.

I thrilled with his mastery of the scriptures and the English language. We became fellow pilgrims and on occasion, he became our family pastor, visiting both my daughter and my wife when she was in coronary care in Lexington’s St. Joe East.

I knew of his pending life story, and encouraged him to write it, but it was practically a done deal when I discovered I was privileged to proof read Vasilis. What I found was a 260 page story of faith, adventure, and commitment, complete with pictures in abundance.

Not only did I get to suggest some corrections, that I hope made it more readable, but I read portions of it aloud to my companion and we laughed, shed tears, and re-lived a few of our own years as we followed him around the rocky village of Agridion, journeyed to Houston, to Kankakee, Asbury and beyond.

He took us to places like Saltville, VA and Johnson City, TN. We followed him across Africa, Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile. On our journey, we endured some childhood experiences quite different from most American-born, but experienced family experiences familiar to every family of whatever nation.

We saw flickers of his exposures to WWII atrocities and the horrors of war in another culture. We encountered the family dangers of Civil War. On the other hand, we encountered the ever familiar ministering angels that touched his life. Reading about some of them formed a re-run of similar experiences we had encountered, and some of them were people we had met on our own journey. It read like Hebrews 11, the honor roll of the faithful.

His personal spiritual journey deeply impressed me and I saw the imprint of God upon his life. His love of-and-for The Scriptures challenged me deeply; I saw something I see lacking in many pastors today. Ultimately, my life was greatly enriched by the fourteen years Vasilis spent in Winchester, KY, from where he retired.

The loving compassion of Vasilis, the friendship, and the God-given anointing as a messenger of God (equally shared by his wife) have blessed many . In reading this true story of Vasilis, you will get to know the heart and soul of the man we know today as Dr. Bill C. Konstantopoulos, retired pastor, missionary, Bible teacher, and now author of more than a half-dozen books.

On the humorous side, you may learn in reading why Vasilus chose pork chops on his first dinner date with Kay (only to learn neither liked them). On the serious side, you will get a real look at life as it is often experienced around the globe. You cannot possibly miss the spark that fired a young boy’s heart with a passionate love for Scripture and you will thrill with the guiding touch of God’s hand upon a willing life. You will not doubt that God exists, nor that God influences the people and places where we journey.

Vasilis; that’s my friend, Brother Bill, as parishioners and friends affectionately refer to him. Benefit from his story and re-discover your own story as you walk in the peace of God amid the hostilities of humanity.

From Warner’s World, I tried to add some pictures but failed. Enjoy ...

No comments: