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Growing Hearts For Czech Republic

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Growing Hearts For Czech Republic

I've been thinking a lot about the changes that my heart has undergone over the last three years. Before then I still had a desire to go to the unreached, but there were hesitations in my heart and mind.  Yet, through prayer, mourning, and re-oriention in the direction of my focus He has changed where I am now. I am forever grateful that God, in His kindness, goes before me and prepares me in the here and now.

Three years ago we were still pursuing Thailand - though a few of those doors had begun to close. Three months before we even began praying about Czech, I started to have consistent dreams about traveling into that country, talking with people, seeing certain European style buildings, and my heart began to long and wish that we would head there instead of Thailand. So strange I thought - I mean, we were supposed to go to Thailand. So, I kept those dreams quiet from Dan, and instead prayed that if Czech was where we were suppose to go, then God would need to speak directly to him. He did, and a few months after that I told Dan how God had already laid the Czech people on my heart.

Since then, our journey has been one confirmation after another. Missionaries who are preparing to enter a country often talk about having a deep caring love for the place that God is sending them to - I often wished I knew what that felt like, and I'm so thankful that I can say that I do understand and know that feeling today. With our journey last summer to Czech and this past year since, my love and desire to move there has increased more than I sometimes know how to communicate.  It could be a song, a picture, a dream, a name, some of the Czech words that I remember will come to mind and my heart sincerely longs to go. People have asked how certain we are that this is where God is leading us, and without a hesitation or doubt, my answer is YES! There is no doubt.

What is it that drives a person to uproot one's life and move clear across the world - to say in a sense "Goodbye" to beloved family, friends and the familiar in order to embrace the tremendous difficulties that an entirely different country brings?  It's Christ! It is the Love of God who compels me to go. I see trials, self-interests, and life different now. The thought of moving our entire family to the Czech Republic feels like the most natural decision we've had to make so far in our marriage. 

I long to see God's Glory known among the Czechs. What this world has to offer isn't eternal. People are. That's why pursuing their minds and hearts to know and love Jesus is so important. God is so passionate about the Czechs, HE LOVES THEM! Oh how He loves them.  Gaining an eternal perspective has changed me so much so that I can't be the same. I am thankful for how God's grace on my life has tenderly helped me understand His heart for people, and in all of the things that "pass away" - only one thing remains: An Eternity of seeing and savoring Jesus with His people across the globe.

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Our Journey: Part 3 - Camp Events

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Our Journey: Part 3 - Camp Events

Every afternoon, various seminars were offered to students who were interested, as well as sports and crafts. Some of these topics consisted of marriage, sex, and money, and one afternoon I (Dan) had the honor of teaching a class on God and the Big Bang.  (Don't mind the shoddy handwriting on my part-->)

Most Czech students are not exposed to an alternative to the predominant secular worldview at school, and science is mostly regarded as the antithesis to a belief in the God who made them.  So, I figured this would be a good opportunity to offer a basic case for a personal Creator, which would hopefully instill a deeper confidence among those who were more skeptical about the person and work of Jesus.

Following the seminar, I received a number of comments from some of the students:

"I have never thought that science and religion could go hand in hand so well." 
"I get these questions asked all of the time at school, and now I feel ready to answer." 
"Thank you for the discussion we had about the connection between religion and science...I always hoped to have this conversation."

Evening Program

 

This year's theme for the summer camps was "Upside Down".  Throughout the week, the students were introduced and invited to see the world they know in a different light and perspective. The world without Jesus pushes the view that looks, wealth, and love will satisfy and fill empty hearts - giving happiness; yet this only leads to despair, whereas only true and eternally rooted happiness comes from God. The world says that if you were wronged it's good to be angry or seek revenge - yet God calls us to forgive and love our enemies. Our imperfect nature longs

for control of our lives and worries about the future - yet, God in His omniscience knows everything and we can completely trust in His goodness and perfect will. What if God's perspective is the right perspective? What if what seems to be hidden and unsure is actually spoken and written in the Bible for us to know and hold on to? What if the God who made this world cares so much about the details and status of our hearts and souls that He would send His son Jesus to take our place that we might be made right with God and be called His "children", "holy", and "blameless"?

 

On another occasion, Dan had the opportunity to share a message on Love through the story of Jesus with the prostitute and Simon the Pharisee from Luke 7:36-50.  The message that people ought to get what they deserve is what pervades our cultures, but in the upside down kingdom, love for the unloveable conquers the death we have been lead to.

 The Labrynth

The Labrynth

As each evening program progressed, the themes became more pointed or personal all leading up to a summary on Thursday night where the Gospel was laid out for the students to walk through in what was called a Labyrinth. Through a pathway outside, lit only by candles, the students would walk at their own pace through a series of stations and reflect on what they had heard about Jesus.

This was a solemn time to reflect on the message of the love and forgiveness that only Jesus brings through His death and resurrection, and at the end of the trail there was an opportunity to burn the piece of paper that had 2 of the major sins keeping them from God written on it.  This was a symbol of handing their lives over to Christ and watch Him take their guilt and shame away.  Please pray for the number of students who have taken that step.

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OUR JOURNEY - PART 2: CAMP ACTIVITIES

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OUR JOURNEY - PART 2: CAMP ACTIVITIES

Training was very beneficial for all of us – we are so thankful for all of the hard work of Josiah Venture and the Czechs to help us prepare for everything. Now, it was the start of Adventure Phase II

After packing our things, our team was guided by 2 translators through a series of 3 buses during our 2 hour travel South. It is interesting how in the Northern Central part of Czech, there are far more rolling mountains and lush lands, compared to the South where it flattens some with patch-work fields separated by tree-lines. This narrow road rolled through cities and small villages with few English words to be seen and we are thankful we had translators as our guide to help navigate us to our next destination.

We're Here!!!

Once we arrived, it was time to get busy to get this camp ready before campers arrived the next day. Dan and Maddie used their amazing painting skills while Lisa helped organize supplies upstairs.

In the morning after breakfast, there were various levels of english classes, ranging from Beginner to Advanced.  Dan and Emmy taught the Advanced class, while Sam and Lisa taught an Intermediate class as. (Class Photo’s Below)

What really made this a more enjoyable experience was the options that were available after lunch.  The afternoon was usually busy with several activities consisting of Crafts, Sports, and various seminars, or you could find a place to rest and enjoy the camp grounds.

Joselyn and Lisa were in charge of the crafts – which was a lot of fun! They had almost an average of 20-30 each day and as busy as that time was, Lisa really enjoyed it.  Not only because she loves crafts, but also it was a time where she could practice more Czech.

Our teammate, Mark, did an amazing job leading afternoon sports – which was a big hit, and of course every summer camp needs some sort of water games

  Waiting on the stairs for dinner (Left) and playing a game called “4 Square” afterwards (Above)

Waiting on the stairs for dinner (Left) and playing a game called “4 Square” afterwards (Above)

Our friend Luke put together a great overview of the camp experience

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