This Is War

As we near the end of our summer, our team is peculiarly reminded of the fact that this is a battlefield. War is being fought for the souls and men and women. These camps allow us to step deep into enemy territory and call people out of darkness and into light. 

We are particularly reminded of the fact that we wage this war as we not only engage in the battle but experience spiritual warfare as well.

At our last camp with Poděbrady, we were able to spend one afternoon at a high ropes course. This whole event was a huge success, with many students saying that it was the most challenging and exciting thing they did all week. 

Image

Petra, however, had a very different experience. One one of the first obstacles, she went too fast on the zip line. As she sought to break her speed at the end, she took all the force on her right leg, breaking two bones in her foot. We rushed her to the hospital, got it in a cast, and thought that apart from some discomfort things would be fine.

Image

When she went for her checkup to a hospital in Prague a couple days later, they kept her overnight, and had to do surgery in the morning to align the bones. After they were done, the doctors told her: “You have to be completely off your leg for 6 weeks, and afterward go through 2 months of rehabilitation.” She was released from the hospital to go to her home in Prague, but she won’t be joining us for this last camp with Liberec.

Image

During our training with the team from Florida and the team from Liberec, Lara and I also experienced spiritual warfare. As we looked ahead toward returning home after the summer, we were overcome with fear and discouragement. It was as if there was a mist hanging over us, keeping us from seeing our Provider God. There are a lot of unknowns for us when we return to Chicago in August – we won’t have a home, a car, a job for Lara; things will be tight. But this was not “natural” worry – and so we knew that it was not at all from God. We were able to pray with the other intern leaders, and immediately felt the weight lift, and see how God is taking care of us.

Image

But in all this – with Petra not being with us, and Lara and I feeling anxiety about returning – we are comforted by the Present and Providing God, who knows our troubles and cares. Would you continue to pray for us this week as we finish our last camp with Liberec, that God would protect us, and help us to finish strong? We know this is where we are supposed to be, and we want to build well till the end.

 

Advertisements

Hikes and Strolls

One thing I love about Czech culture is how much they love to hike. Yes, the culture is slowly beginning to change as the nation becomes more westernized, but inside every Czech person there is something that drives them to the mountains. Hiking is not a simple activity, sport, or hobby – it is an art. 

Image

But of all hikes, my favorite is the one we take at camp. 

We are currently working with the church from Poděbrady, and have been so encouraged by what God is doing here. Of course, there have been ups and downs, issues that needed resolving, and problems that arose, but this is a very special group. I am so thankful I get to be back after two years and continue relationships with these students. 

Image

One of the people I have enjoyed being back with the most is Tomáš. Tomáš was in my English class two years ago, and we have kept in touch over Facebook since then. We had some great conversations about life and faith on the hike on Monday. 

Image

Many conversations and relationships were started on the hike on Monday. It’s been amazing to see how they have grown since. We have been sharing the good news with these students all week – we now find ourselves at the last day. Would you pray today for these last moments with our campers? Pray that we would have opportunities to continue to challenge, pray with, and love them in a way that points them to their heavenly Father. 

Image

Preaching the Old Testament in Czech

A couple weeks ago during our visit to the Poděbrady church, I had the opportunity to preach for the Sunday service. When I had worked with Poděbrady two years ago, I had the same honor, and was thrilled to get to stand before the congregation again.

This time, however, I wanted to preach in Czech, rather than in English with translation. Although my language skills have somewhat deteriorated after being away from the country for so long, I knew it would be worth it to try. God has given me a great passion for communicating God’s word – but would that passion translate into Czech?

With the help of Petra, our Czech intern, I translated word for word my English manuscript, and was able to deliver a 25 minute sermon to the church in Poděbrady on June 23rd. I was so encouraged by the whole process, and incredibly blessed to have been able to preach on the Old Testament here in Czech.

Image

I spoke on a topic very dear to my heart – the presence of God.

Numbers 14 describes the Israelites wandering in the wilderness toward the land of promise. Two separate reports come back from the spying out of the land, and the majority of the people align themselves with the report of fear and despair. This event causes God to sentence Israel to wander for another 38 years, while the entire quarrelsome generation dies out.

Image

Caleb and Joshua, however, discern God’s presence by fully facing wilderness in the assurance of God’s promises. They trust in the God who provides and who is present. The don’t shy away from the difficulty of their task, but move forward convinced that God will be with them. The quarrelsome generation could only see the options of slavery and death as their way to escape the wilderness. Caleb and Joshua trusted in the promises of God to be present no matter what the circumstance, and to faithfully bring them into the Land.

But in the end we discover that it was never about reaching the destination of the promised land. It was never about the security of “the land flowing with milk and honey.” It was and always has been about God’s presence. And if God’s people are in the desert, that is where Yahweh will be. Perhaps God is peculiarly present to the landless, in ways not understandable by those rooted and secure. To those in the wilderness, God provides. Never too much, never too little. But always enough for life.

Image

Wilderness experiences will come in our lives. Peace and security are not apart of God’s promises for our life. But the assurance of God’s provision and unique presence is indeed a promise, although it often comes in ways we don’t expect. Our role is to fully face wilderness, expecting God to reveal himself in a special way, and to provide for life.

Let us fully embrace this life of sojourning, this journey in the wilderness, trusting God to make good of his promises, and walking in his presence in this life, here and now.

First Perspective

Our hotel for camp- Dvorska Bouda

Our hotel for camp- Dvorska Bouda

My first English camp has come and gone, but in one word I would sum it up into- amazing! It was a lot of other things like- freezing cold, stressful, and busy- but over all those things God did amazing work in the hearts of those 34 students.

Our English class!

Our English class!

The first amazing thing I would like to tell you about is a 14 year old boy who I will call V, made a decision to follow Christ on Thursday night of camp! V comes from a city called Hejnice and has such a sweet, quiet spirit. He was in my beginners English class and so my teammates and I were able to discuss things with him many times. From the moment I met V, I felt God put him on my heart. I was so surprised by this because I was expecting God to give me a girl to pray for all week, but it was V. We watched him as he quietly and thoughtfully processed during discussion groups, after Tyler shared the story of Peter. God is so good! I was curious what he was thinking about all week because he was so quiet, and in the end for God to take a hold of his heart is an amazing result! As he continues this walk of faith, please pray for him! Pray that he would stay focused on Christ and that the influences around him would not hinder his desire to follow God.

Because of Tyler’s experiences with camps, I had a picture in my head of what it would be like, and it was pretty close in reality too. Being a leader of a team is very different. You are working on things during free time- which is when everyone else is with the students. This was a challenge for me. A challenge because I had to be ok with not doing everything and I needed to realize that what Tyler and I do behind the scenes is just as important. I have loved being a leader and have loved learning. Our team has grown so close and we love pouring into them!

We accomplished some amazing things while we were there too! We climbed the tallest mountain in the Czech Republic and we successfully did not get injured during sports time!:)

Us at the top!

Us at the top!

We start the second camp on Friday with a church from Podebrady. Our team from the states will arrive around midnight tonight! Please pray for us and our team as we become a bridge between the Americans and the Czechs so that they can have strong relationships with much fruit!

Surreal to Be Back

I just returned from giving my fourth evening talk here at camp tonight – most of the students are still in their discussion groups as I type this. I am praying that the Holy Spirit breaks down barriers this week and allows many to encounter God for the first time.

Image

It truly is surreal to be back after two years. Last time I did camps I was a sophomore, leading a team with my good friend Ryan, and had only just started dating Lara. Now Lara and I are leading together and I am almost done with my time at Moody. I feel in a very different place than I was two years ago. Yet some things stay the same – students still need to hear the good news, spiritual warfare is still occurring, and my heart still burns for the Czech people.

Image

We are half way through our first camp with Nove Mesto pod Smrkem, and I must say, I wouldn’t want to be serving with anyone else. Our American and Czech teams are working so well together – I believe we really are exemplifying what Jesus spoke about in John 13:35: “By this all people will know you are my disciples: if you have love for one another.” It really blows my mind.

Image

Yet we are not without our battles. Being one of the main leaders for this camp, I have had a unique view into the behind-the-scenes. The Lord is working, and that is evident, but there are also many spiritual battles going on. Please pray for protection for our team of Americans and Czechs. Please pray that the voice of the Lord would resound through distractions. Please pray for openness in evening discussion groups, where some of these students will be thinking about God for the first time in their life. And please pray that the Holy Spirit would draw many students closer to God – whether that means being open to the possibility of their even being a God, or making a decision to follow Christ for the rest of their life. 

Image

Thank you for standing with us! Through your support and prayers, you get to have a mark on what we are doing here. Your ministry is just as important as ours here in Czech. Any fruit that the Lord causes to grow is a blessing you get to partake in! So thank you for your ministry – the Lord will multiply it greatly.