Friday, 24 November 2017

The best decision I made in 2016






When I was in Israel last year I learnt a lot and even eighteen months later, I find myself thinking about that trip. I've lifted my orange Israel notebook off my bookshelf multiple times to refresh my memory of key points. And I continue to unpack and process some of the things I heard there as I seek to live differently because of what God showed me. 

But it was also in Israel that I made one of the best decisions of 2016. I'm not entirely sure what day it happened or where I was but it was in that country that I decided to join a gym when I returned to Czech. 

Now, there are many good reasons to join a gym. Working out a few times a week is a great thing for your body, the endorphins feel amazing, it helps your body deal with stress. I've had chronic back pain for over ten years now and working out regularly definitely helps me manage the pain and even reduce it. 

In my little hometown it's also a good idea to join a gym because the air gets so bad in winter with the low temperatures and pollution. A few times every winter a smog situation is declared and the young, elderly, and sick are advised to simply stay inside. There are times I'll walk from my car to my flat and my scarf will smell like I've become a smoker because of the pollution in the air. So it is actually not a good idea to exercise outside in the winter; I'm rather convinced it would negatively impact your health.

All the reasons so far are good motivation to join the gym. But none of them were my main reason. I wanted to join a gym to get to know more people in my community because it's easy to spend my days at the office and my weekends fill up with church and youth group. I wanted to get to know and build relationships with more non-Christians.

I picked the gym in town that's for women only and checked it out for the free week. I've been going ever since - over eighteen months. And while I'm sure there are gyms with better philosophy behind them I am so grateful for this place and the women there!

One of the things that attracted me to this gym is that you can pause your membership for a tiny fee. This works perfectly with my travel schedule and I'm still on my first twelve months of actual membership because of all the breaks when I head to other countries. And when I return after a week or a month I'm warmly welcomed and asked where I've been and what I've been up to.

Each October we have a group hike day, so I just attended my second one. It is such a fun day - we hike to the top of the mountain I can see from my living room window, and have some soup at the top, before hiking down for our main lunch at a restaurant at the bottom. Along the way women stop to pick berries or mushrooms, and we all wait for those who are a little behind as we labour up the hill.

And there are many conversations that happen along the way. This year it was wonderful to get to chat to women who I've seen multiple times but never had the chance to talk to. None of the women speak English, and they are abundantly patient with my Czech ability. We chat about the weather, our families, the gym, and all those wonderful things that make up our daily lives.

It's never long before someone asks "Wait, you're a Northern Irish girl who lives in Český Těšín? Why would you live here?" and I get to explain why I live here, what I do, and how much I love calling this little border town home. 

I'm so very thankful that God led me to this decision last year, and that I can now be part of this community. I'm praying for continued opportunities to build relationships with these women and that I'll be faithful in always being ready to give a reason for the hope that I have.


Thursday, 16 November 2017

Fall Conference 2017: Transform



In the last week of September 380 youth leaders from over fifteen nations gathered in a little town in the Czech Republic for Fall Conference. The theme this year was Transform, learning to teach like Jesus. 

We believe that we have the greatest story ever told - so it's worth the work to learn how to teach it well, to teach it so that it truly transforms lives. And it should always start by transforming us as we learn and prepare. The truth is, at best we are the teaching assistants and it's every disciple maker's, every teacher's, role to step into the shadow of Jesus as He teaches.


One of the beautiful things about the conference was the fact we sang in all the languages represented there during the week. You can see three languages on the powerpoint screen above. I can sing in Czech, Slovak, and Polish but even the ones I couldn't sing in were beautiful, and a little foretaste of heaven where people from every tongue and nation will worship God. 


Another favourite thing about the conference was the teaching - from the main sessions each evening, to the three different tracks that everyone was placed in based on how they normally teach, to the workshops. I loved being in the workshop all about asking questions as a teaching method, taught by DU from Romania.

There is a team that works to plan conference throughout the year and their leadership, diligence and care was on display in so many of the details. I am so thankful that I got to sit under such excellent teaching for the week! And I am crazy thankful to serve in an organisation so passionate about equipping us well. 


And then there are the people who come to this conference! With 380 of us it's impossible to talk to everyone, but there are many beautiful conversations that happen over meals, or coffee, or late at night during the week. 

This photo shows three of my favourite people of the week - I got to meet these three ladies during four years of doing camps with Dejvice church in Prague. Now they are all loving Jesus and living for Him - as a student, a teacher, and a full time missionary. They radiate Him and it is the greatest privilege to know them, be friends, and get to spend time together! 



Once again, I left this place, this conference centre, this hill, changed - closer to Jesus and more equipped to serve Him. 

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Fall Camp Meeting



On a Saturday in September thirty of my favourite people gathered and we're pictured above. These are the people who lead our camp ministry in each of their countries and it was such a joy to be together for a couple of days! 

As I was praying and thinking about this meeting over the summer I felt God gave me three words for our time together - celebration, collaboration, and clarity. So that's how we spent our time - celebrating all that God did through camps this summer, collaborating for the year ahead, and bringing some clarity to some areas. 

And there was much to celebrate - there is a lot of fruit that comes from our summer ministries, and some of that fruit is over five hundred young people who professed faith in Jesus! We went out for dinner together on Sunday night, after playing a game of ping pong assassin in the local shopping centre (we are youth ministry people, afterall!).




But when we weren't sneaking around a shopping centre, trying to successfully hit the person whose name we had on our ping pong, we were sitting around these tables. We spent a lot of time talking about the local churches we get to partner with as we do over one hundred and twenty camps - how can we best train them, and equip them to do camp well. We also talked about what worked last year and what we can do better next year, with camps and interns and short term teams. 




These are the people I work closest with and it was wonderful to spend a few blessed days together. I'm so grateful for this team and all that we were able to talk and dream about. I love that I get to serve alongside these people as we seek to partner with and equip local churches across central and eastern Europe to fulfil Christ's commission. 

It's exciting to think about the fruit that God will bring from the discussions and plans we started in this place!


Friday, 20 October 2017

Today and Tomorrow in Czech



Today and tomorrow people across Czech are voting for who will represent them in the lower house of the Czech parliament. This means today people are picking the two hundred people who will be in government for the next four years.

It's been interesting to see the advertisements, posters, and flyers, that have appeared everywhere - along roads and in my letterbox. The last time there were elections I didn't understand any of the words but now I understand more. Although I still have a lot to learn about the government here and the thirty-one parties that run in the elections, and the ten main parties.

We know that it is ultimately God who is sovereign over all - from the President and Prime Minister, to the people who serve in the government offices in my little border town (where the voting lists, above, are printed in both Czech and Polish). And I'm thankful to live in a country where people can choose who is in power, especially as that has not always been true here. 

Would you please join me in praying for these elections and their results? That God would powerfully use whoever ends up in power, not for their glory but for His? Czech normally scores higher in corruption scales compared with other European countries, so please pray that all those in government would be people of integrity who will serve the country well. 

"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. " 1 Timothy 2 v 1-4

If you're interested the New York Times have an article about the Czech elections that you can read here.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

An autumn day in Czech




It’s autumn here - the leaves are falling, “buy new winter tyres” is on my to-do list, and my desire to have heating is growing bigger than my lack of desire to learn how to use my new thermostat. This is my fifth autumn here and that feels strange because time seems to go by so quickly and so slowly at the same time. I’m currently also gearing up for my second home assignment, and being in Northern Ireland for November and December. 

On Thursday someone asked me where I call home - as I plan on heading back to NI am I saying I’m going home? The truth is that yes - Northern Ireland is where I grew up, and where my family live. I have twenty-four years of memories living there and, although my accent doesn’t always betray it, it’s home.

But the other truth is here is also home. I fly home whether I’m on an Easyjet flight heading east or west. Czech is home in both deeper and shallower ways than Northern Ireland is home. Northern Ireland is home because that’s where I was born and grew up. Northern Ireland has shaped me in deep ways, ways I can’t even communicate and sometimes don’t even know. Czech is home because I chose and choose to obey God and His deep and beautiful call on my life that has me here. Czech is my home not because I understand everything that happens but even though I decidedly don’t understand everything.

Yesterday I ran some errands around town. I bumped into someone from church. And the lady who works at the car insurance place greeted me when she saw me through the window. I was able to accomplish all my errands - and even some not on today’s list - all in a second language, and even solving problems met along the way.

I bought a beautiful bunch of flowers and I carried them home upside down. I didn’t even have to think about it - here flowers are carried by gripping the stem and carrying them upside down. I’d never done it that way before I moved here but now it makes sense.

None of this is remarkable or weird or scary any more. Sure, the post office still drives me a little crazy but that’s only because there is no observable, obvious, queuing system. But going to the post office no longer an errand that freaks me out or I need to psych myself up for. 

So, I’m excited for this month of soaking up autumn in Czech, at home with lots of my normal rhythms and routines. And I’m excited to head home at the end of the month to catch up with dear people and share the stories of what God is doing in this place. 

Monday, 28 August 2017

Camps happening this week - 28th August

These posts are happening each Monday this summer to invite you to pray with us for the camps happening this week! 

This week the camps that are happening are:



  • one in Bulgaria
If you'd like to get a feel for our camps check out this video:



This summer we will have a total of one hundred and twenty two camps across our thirteen countries! We have one hundred and five interns serving with us for three months, and over one thousand people serving on short term teams. For each camp, we'll be partnering with a local church to put on an English, sports, European, or music camp. And young people from the town, city, or area will be invited to come along, to learn English or grow in their football skills, or perform in a rock-pop choir, and they'll hear the Gospel and be invited to respond. 

The theme for our camps this year is SEEN and we'll spend the week looking at how people are seen by Jesus. Each night we will look at a different encounter Jesus has with someone in the Bible and what that tells us about him, and about us. We're praying boldly that eight hundred and fifty young people will put their faith in Jesus this year. And we're praying that they, and the others at camp, will get plugged into the local church where they'll be discipled to be disciples who make disciples who make disciples. 

Please pray with us for the camps that are happening this week - 


  • for the local church: that they will build relationships with young people from their community and share the Gospel, and that they'll be able to follow up with these students well
  • for the interns and short term teams: that God will use them powerfully as they serve the local churches here, and that God would call some of them to this ministry full time!
  • for students: that God would powerfully draw many to themselves, and that when they go home they would be excited about growing in Christ.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

The craziest and sweetest gift in Bulgaria


Part of my role is supporting our newer countries as they begin to do camps, and this was the first short term team Bulgaria had had, even though they've been doing camps for years using interns and staff. So I wanted to go to Bulgaria and cheer them on as they did their first short term team training. 

It was quite a coincidence that their first team happened to be from Northern Ireland! I started to joke that the reason I was heading to Bulgaria was to translate between Northern Irish English and American English... which actually turned out to be part of my role there. It was so good for my soul to soak in and speak Northern Irish for a week - it definitely is its own little language and I forget how many words are unique to the little country I'm from. As I heard about the team beforehand I hadn't heard of the ministry they were coming with, and none of their names sounded familiar so I assumed I didn't know any of them.

Well, after a bit of a rush at the airport and safely making our bus to Velingrad I was sitting beside the team leader and we started to do that Northern Irish thing where you figure out all your mutual connections - especially as he lives five miles from where I'm from, and we are part of the same denomination. 

There were many little connections and mutual friends and then Ray said that he had spoken at a youth rally in my church when James was the pastor. James was the pastor from when I was around ten years old until I was twenty-two so it felt likely that I'd have heard of the event so I asked what the name of it was. He said it was called Star Wars. 

And there, on that little bus, on a little mountain road in Bulgaria, I told Ray that that was the event where I accepted Christ fourteen years ago. I had grown up in the church, and heard all the stories, but there was something about the combination of hearing testimonies of my school friends and a clear gospel presentation that made it all click that night. 

I didn't know the name of the speaker that night, but once we'd made the connection I realised why Ray had seemed familiar. It was so strange and so sweet to be sitting together all these years later telling the story of what God did then and just pieces of what he has done since. It felt like a little foreshadow of heaven, when I imagine we'll praise God by telling in full the stories that we only see glimpses of here on earth.

As I left Bulgaria later that week, and as camp season finishes up here for another year, I left so encouraged by this little interaction. The gospel has been powerfully proclaimed this summer, and many have responded in faith. My prayer is that we'll see these young people get plugged into local churches where they will grow in their faith and change their nations for Christ. 

And who knows what stories we'll be telling fourteen years from now?

Monday, 21 August 2017

How to pray for camps this week - 21st August


There is just one more camp for this summer! So you'll see that post appear next Monday. Thank you for faithfully praying your way through these last couple of months by following these posts.

Please continue to pray for the follow up as local churches continue to do all the work that comes after camp. Please pray that especially as school starts in just a couple of weeks that young people would continue to go to youth group, Bible studies, and church. We read in the Parable of the Sower about those who hear the word of God and receive it with joy but then without a root they fall away when testing comes. There are also those who respond to the gospel but are "choked by the cares, and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature." We see both these responses happen as "real life" begins again after summer, and school schedules are demanding, and peers and parents aren't sure about this new church thing.

Please join us in praying that those who responded in faith this summer would be like the seed that falls on good soil - they hear the word, hold fast to "in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience." May these nations be changed as young people mature in Christ and bear fruit that yields thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Seeing Dunkirk in Český Těšín


I'm not sure if I've told you about the little cinema in my town, but it may be one of my favourite places here. You see, it's run by an older couple and has these old wooden chairs. I've been to showings that have had just two other people there before and I think the biggest audience I've ever been a part of there was around twenty, and there were at least ten of us as we went to see the new hero movie that had somehow been shown in Český Těšín before anywhere else.

And that is the strange dichotomy of this little cinema - sometimes they'll have the latest movies, although only for a day or two, and other times they'll show movies that came out twenty years ago. There's no arranged seating, which is unusual for Czech, and there's no concession stand either. So you should absolutely bring your own snacks and drinks to enjoy. And I love that I live just a couple of minutes' walk away, rather than needing to drive thirty minutes or so (in Czech or across to Poland) to see a movie.

But my favourite thing about the cinema is definitely the couple that run it. You see, you also get their opinion about your movie choice when you go. I went to see the children's movie Brave there with Kristin and her boys, and afterwards the man wanted to know if we'd understood any of the Czech movie (children's movies are often dubbed, whereas other movies usually have the English with Czech subtitles).

When I went to see Dunkirk I went alone, because I'm an introvert who was enjoying a quiet evening when a lot of people were out of town. And the lady wasn't sure this was a movie I should see on my own, warning me that "It's a war movie, you know? A big war movie." I reassured her that I knew that, and thirty seconds later, her husband asked me a similar question as he checked and perforated my ticket and collected the stub, even though I was less than three metres from where he saw me purchase it.

We chatted as he escorted me to the only screen, and he told me I wouldn't like this movie but that I could sit wherever I wanted - especially as I was the third member of the audience that evening. In our conversation my accent definitely came through and he asked where I was from - when I told him he exclaimed "Aha! Držím palce." That literally means, "I hold my thumbs" but more accurately translates as "I'll keep my fingers crossed" in English. After the movie was over, and the audience of five people filtered out, he wanted to know what I thought, and why I lived in this little border town. 

Dunkirk itself? It was incredible - how the story involves without much dialogue, but so much of the feeling is conveyed so beautifully by the music. I also really enjoyed some of the actors involved - especially Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy and Kenneth Branagh. But more than all of those elements it was incredible because of the story it told. When they couldn't get home, home came to rescue them. And in that good story we hear beautiful echoes of the greatest story ever told. 


Monday, 14 August 2017

Camps happening this week - 14th August

These posts are happening each Monday this summer to invite you to pray with us for the camps happening this week! 

This week the camps that are happening are:



  • one in Germany
  • one in Romania
If you'd like to get a feel for our camps check out this video:



This summer we will have a total of one hundred and twenty two camps across our thirteen countries! We have one hundred and five interns serving with us for three months, and over one thousand people serving on short term teams. For each camp, we'll be partnering with a local church to put on an English, sports, European, or music camp. And young people from the town, city, or area will be invited to come along, to learn English or grow in their football skills, or perform in a rock-pop choir, and they'll hear the Gospel and be invited to respond. 

The theme for our camps this year is SEEN and we'll spend the week looking at how people are seen by Jesus. Each night we will look at a different encounter Jesus has with someone in the Bible and what that tells us about him, and about us. We're praying boldly that eight hundred and fifty young people will put their faith in Jesus this year. And we're praying that they, and the others at camp, will get plugged into the local church where they'll be discipled to be disciples who make disciples who make disciples. 

Please pray with us for the camps that are happening this week - 


  • for the local church: that they will build relationships with young people from their community and share the Gospel, and that they'll be able to follow up with these students well
  • for the interns and short term teams: that God will use them powerfully as they serve the local churches here, and that God would call some of them to this ministry full time!
  • for students: that God would powerfully draw many to themselves, and that when they go home they would be excited about growing in Christ.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Camp in Bulgaria!



This summer I got to visit Bulgaria to see and cheer on our team down there! I sometimes feel like I have more culture shock visiting some of our southern countries, than I had when I moved to Czech. The culture is just different - a little louder, a little warmer, than I've become used to in Czech. This was true of Bulgaria too - and it was fun to get to know the culture a little better, and to see a little of the beautiful country.




I travelled down on Thursday, a few days before the short term team arrived to help prepare for their arrival. This was our first short term team headed to Bulgaria so it was great to be there to support our staff. It was a little strange to be a country with the Cyrillic alphabet. So many of our countries speak Slavic languages so, even if I don't speak that specific language, there are usually words I recognise. This was not the case in Bulgaria due to the alphabet - although, sometimes when people were talking I caught words or phrases I recognised.

It was great to have a few days of preparation and to be able to get a feel for the town of Velingrad where some of our missionaries are based. I went along with our country leader there, Gabe, as he had a meeting with the town officials who allowed us to use the town stadium for free for camp, and as he stopped by the children's home to say hi.




The team from Northern Ireland, America, and Canada, arrived in on Saturday and we were very thankful that we made the bus for the two hour journey to Velingrad. Some of the team were able to go in our van but with not enough seats I took most of the Northern Irish team on the bus - thankfully I had help getting them on the correct bus as three days is not quite long enough to learn a new alphabet.

With their arrival training began - we spent time over the next couple of days talking about the mission and vision of Josiah Venture and the Bulgaria team, culture, how to build relationships well, how to share the gospel, and all the practical things we needed to cover for a sports' camp! We were also able to go to the local church on Sunday morning.




On Monday afternoon camp began! There were forty-seven students there who were connected to the local church or our missionaries in Velingrad, or connected to other local churches across Bulgaria through various outreach ministries. There were also seven students from the children's home we'd stopped by on Friday. This was a big camp! And it was so fun to see the short term team members, and interns and staff, serving all these students. Our interns in Bulgaria probably get the prize for doing the most camps in the summer - I think this was the sixth camp for most of them!




Our mornings started with the camp dance and some stretching altogether, followed by a short testimony from a team member. Then students were in three groups (girls, older boys, and younger boys) which each went through skill time in three sports. The sports during the week were football, volleyball, Ultimate Frisbee, basketball, and fitness! After each skill time there were more short testimonies from team members.

In the afternoons there was movie or pool time, followed by the main talk for the day. After the talk time there were discussion groups to help students process what they'd been hearing about Jesus and how he sees them. After discussion groups ended, usually around six, there was more sport time - this time we were in our six discussion group teams and we played three games (usually football and Frisbee, plus another from that day). And then there was "shower hour" for everyone to get clean after a full day of lots of sports, followed by some chill time of playing board games or ping pong before bedtime.



This is Cvete, who I got to know during camp! I'm so thankful for how relationships can be built across languages and cultures, and for the time I got to spend with this lovely lady, and others, during camp.




The town's stadium was a great place to host camp - and it's incredible that not only were we able to use it, but that we were able to use it for free. With Bulgaria's strong Orthodox tradition, evangelical Christianity is definitely seen as a cult. Like many of our countries, this is a big challenge especially when young people go home from camp or other outreach events, talking about this Jesus they've just heard about, who may have changed their lives. Unfortunately, this often leads to parents banning their children from attending church and youth group.




I left midway through camp to head home to Czech. It was definitely hard to leave camp and the people I had gotten to know there. But it was such a joy to hear that seven young people gave their lives to Christ that week! Bulgaria doesn't have a lot of youth ministry happening, and churches are small and cannot afford to have youth workers full time. So if anything is happening for young people, it is often led by young students who are often busy or not always around. Also, there aren't always a lot of opportunities for work in Bulgaria so people move away, or work in another European country much of the year. There are definitely a lot of challenges to raising up a new generation of committed disciples in this country, but God is most definitely at work.




As I flew out of Bulgaria early on Thursday morning my heart was full - from connecting with our incredible staff and interns in that country, from getting to speak Northern Irish and meeting the short term team, from getting to know students, and from seeing little glimpses of what God is doing in that country. I'm praying that we'll see Him move in even mightier ways in this place in the years to come.


Monday, 7 August 2017

How to pray for camps this week - 7th August

This week there are not any camps happening! We're not quite done with camps for the summer though. And, actually, as camp ends in many ways the real work begins so this week would you please join me in praying for all the local churches who have done camp this year? Please pray for them as they follow up with students and start to disciple them. 

By the end of this week most of our interns will have also left. We're praising God for all these wonderful people who joined his work here this summer. Please be praying for them also as they head home - in America or Europe - that they will remember how God changed their lives and lives around them this year. 

It's been incredible to see little glimpses of what God has been up to this summer - and I know that they are only little glimpses. 

Monday, 31 July 2017

Camps happening this week - 31st July

These posts are happening each Monday this summer to invite you to pray with us for the camps happening this week! 

This week the camps that are happening are:



  • two in Estonia
  • ten in Czech
  • two in Slovakia
  • four in Ukraine
  • one in Hungary
  • one in Romania
If you'd like to get a feel for our camps check out this video:



This summer we will have a total of one hundred and twenty two camps across our thirteen countries! We have one hundred and five interns serving with us for three months, and over one thousand people serving on short term teams. For each camp, we'll be partnering with a local church to put on an English, sports, European, or music camp. And young people from the town, city, or area will be invited to come along, to learn English or grow in their football skills, or perform in a rock-pop choir, and they'll hear the Gospel and be invited to respond. 

The theme for our camps this year is SEEN and we'll spend the week looking at how people are seen by Jesus. Each night we will look at a different encounter Jesus has with someone in the Bible and what that tells us about him, and about us. We're praying boldly that eight hundred and fifty young people will put their faith in Jesus this year. And we're praying that they, and the others at camp, will get plugged into the local church where they'll be discipled to be disciples who make disciples who make disciples. 

Please pray with us for the camps that are happening this week - 


  • for the local church: that they will build relationships with young people from their community and share the Gospel, and that they'll be able to follow up with these students well
  • for the interns and short term teams: that God will use them powerfully as they serve the local churches here, and that God would call some of them to this ministry full time!
  • for students: that God would powerfully draw many to themselves, and that when they go home they would be excited about growing in Christ.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Camps happening this week - 24th July

These posts are happening each Monday this summer to invite you to pray with us for the camps happening this week! 

This week the camps that are happening are:



  • three in Latvia
  • five in Poland
  • one in Bulgaria
If you'd like to get a feel for our camps check out this video:



This summer we will have a total of one hundred and twenty two camps across our thirteen countries! We have one hundred and five interns serving with us for three months, and over one thousand people serving on short term teams. For each camp, we'll be partnering with a local church to put on an English, sports, European, or music camp. And young people from the town, city, or area will be invited to come along, to learn English or grow in their football skills, or perform in a rock-pop choir, and they'll hear the Gospel and be invited to respond. 

The theme for our camps this year is SEEN and we'll spend the week looking at how people are seen by Jesus. Each night we will look at a different encounter Jesus has with someone in the Bible and what that tells us about him, and about us. We're praying boldly that eight hundred and fifty young people will put their faith in Jesus this year. And we're praying that they, and the others at camp, will get plugged into the local church where they'll be discipled to be disciples who make disciples who make disciples. 

Please pray with us for the camps that are happening this week - 


  • for the local church: that they will build relationships with young people from their community and share the Gospel, and that they'll be able to follow up with these students well
  • for the interns and short term teams: that God will use them powerfully as they serve the local churches here, and that God would call some of them to this ministry full time!
  • for students: that God would powerfully draw many to themselves, and that when they go home they would be excited about growing in Christ.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Short Term Team Training in Slovakia!



Last Friday I went to Žilina in Slovakia to see their training for short term teams. This year Slovakia will do thirteen camps across the country, partnering with local churches, interns, and short term teams. This was one of the shortest journeys I've ever had for ministry - it was just fifty minutes on the train from my town to Žilina. 



It was so good to be there for the day of training, and to reconnect with our team and interns there. I got to hear how the summer had been going so far before the teams arrived. Like all short term team trainings, they covered who we are as an organisation and why we're here doing what we're doing. There were sessions on culture, teaching English, and the roles of the short term team. 


But my favourite part was hearing this guy's story. He was there to lead worship on Saturday morning and he was asked to share his testimony. At an English camp he saw the short term team and how they loved one another and the students, and he saw that they were different. He started to seek after the truth and after camp he accepted Christ. And not only was his life changed but now his mum and sister are also believers! 


As I waited for the train home I stood on the platform and realised that some things just don't get old - even after ten years. I can remember waiting for trains that first year and still, somehow, trains feel like a fun way to travel (most of the time, anyway). And hearing how God is changing lives and eternities through camps? It's still amazing in a deep, gives-me-goosebumps, way. I'm so grateful for the glimpses God gives us of how He's working!


Monday, 17 July 2017

Camps happening this week - 17th July

These posts are happening each Monday this summer to invite you to pray with us for the camps happening this week! 

This week the camps that are happening are:



  • three in Estonia
  • one in Germany
  • twelve in Czech
  • five in Slovakia
  • three in Ukraine
  • two in Romania
  • one in Bulgaria
  • two in Serbia
If you'd like to get a feel for our camps check out this video:



This summer we will have a total of one hundred and twenty two camps across our thirteen countries! We have one hundred and five interns serving with us for three months, and over one thousand people serving on short term teams. For each camp, we'll be partnering with a local church to put on an English, sports, European, or music camp. And young people from the town, city, or area will be invited to come along, to learn English or grow in their football skills, or perform in a rock-pop choir, and they'll hear the Gospel and be invited to respond. 

The theme for our camps this year is SEEN and we'll spend the week looking at how people are seen by Jesus. Each night we will look at a different encounter Jesus has with someone in the Bible and what that tells us about him, and about us. We're praying boldly that eight hundred and fifty young people will put their faith in Jesus this year. And we're praying that they, and the others at camp, will get plugged into the local church where they'll be discipled to be disciples who make disciples who make disciples. 

Please pray with us for the camps that are happening this week - 


  • for the local church: that they will build relationships with young people from their community and share the Gospel, and that they'll be able to follow up with these students well
  • for the interns and short term teams: that God will use them powerfully as they serve the local churches here, and that God would call some of them to this ministry full time!
  • for students: that God would powerfully draw many to themselves, and that when they go home they would be excited about growing in Christ.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Intern Training 2017




After the joys and challenges of the Amazing Race we begin four full days of Intern Training at Malenovice. This is the group of people who were there - one hundred and five interns plus staff. 


Our conference centre at Malenovice is bursting at capacity - a very good problem to have! That means that during the day we met in our big marquee/tent for our sessions, and at night we squeezed into the meeting room inside the hotel.


One of our biggest goals for Intern Training was that interns would understand the five challenges Christ gives on the disciplemaking pathway (to come and see, repent and believe, follow me, follow me and fish for men, and I am sending you). As a ministry we want all we do to be based on the life and ministry of Christ and so we follow His model. And knowing this pathway well enables us to see where we are and how we can grow, and where others are and what they need in those spots to move to the next chair. So here is Aleisha interviewing Katka who is sharing what the process was like in her life.


As well as a lot of training on disciplemaking, personal growth, and team, we also train interns in all the practical parts of their internship - everything from teaching English, to working with translation, to the camp dance. I'm really thankful for the incredible people who taught and shared - in all we had over forty people involved in the conference! And some of those people were nationals sharing about their country in their second language! 


Each night the evening talks were on idols. Aleisha spoke on the first night, and then our president Dave spoke on the other three nights. Idols might seem like a funny topic to dive into but Aleisha shared the following quote from Chris Wright:

"Idolatry.. is the biggest obstacle to world mission" 

God is King and should be Lord over all my life - but sometimes we get caught up in worshipping other things. And we'd never say that we're worshipping other things but the truth is anything we're looking to for comfort, or security, or identity, that isn't Jesus is an idol. So some of the things that can become idols might be very good things! But we make them ultimate things, and that's where the problem is. 

So each night we looked at Jeremiah 17 and the symptoms of idols, and then we looked at idols were learn about the bible and asked the Holy Spirit to reveal anything in our lives we were worshipping that were not Him. Our hope was that in seeking freedom from all these idols we all would be freed up to serve Christ fully and bear much fruit for Him this summer.



It was a great privilege for me to speak a couple of times during Intern Training also. I facilitated a session on the gospel in Europe where everybody heard quick little talks, mostly from nationals, about different JV countries, what it looks like to follow Christ there, and what challenges there are to the gospel in that place. During that session I got to reveal our camp theme for the year, talk about the camp talks, and explain why they were written - to meet the exact needs and challenges people had just been sharing about.

I also got to lead a session on culture - with one hundred and five people, from eleven different countries, serving in thirteen countries for the summer, we had a lot different cultures in the room! And when we serve God with our culture, and cross-culturally, it can be a really beautiful picture of the gospel. But we need to learn to do those things well. So we did a fun, interactive task and then debriefed it and I gave some tips for serving well across cultures.


Speaking at and helping to lead this event was definitely challenging at times - and there were moments where we definitely experienced spiritual warfare. We went to deep and hard places, knowing that Christ wants us to be completely free. It was a battle but so rewarding to stand in faith with these interns for all that God has for them - both personally and as they serve Him in these nations this summer.


On the last night we commissioned each group of interns to their country by praying over them, and then they had communion in their teams. The next morning many got up early to head to their mission fields for the summer and it was a joy to send them out! And that's why we dug our heels in and stood in faith - because sending out one hundred and five interns (plus staff) to serve for three months in complete freedom in Christ? That could really change these nations as they reach out to, disciple, and equip this next generation.