Friday 28 October 2016

Church weekend

At the beginning of October we had our church family weekend. The theme for our time was God's family.

Throughout the weekend various people from our church were interviewed so everyone could get to know them better. We had lots of free time which also allowed us to spend time together, and get to know people more. 

We had a guest speaker for the weekend who leads a children's ministry called Awana for the Czech Republic. One member of the church translated for Casey, Kristin and I - which we were very grateful for because some of the topics were quite complex, and sometimes it was Polish being spoken from the front rather than Czech. 

For example, we sing a lot in Polish. I'm really thankful for the various people who led us in worship during the weekend! And I'm thankful that, despite not studying Polish, I can usually follow the songs well enough to sing along.

I am so thankful for my church family here in Czech! I'm thankful that I am now at a point where I can build relationships in the Czech language - that even with my terrible grammar, people are willing to figure out what I'm trying to communicate, and to repeat themselves when I don't understand. 

And I'm thankful for the glimpses of heaven when people unite across languages and cultures, love each other, and worship God. 

Wednesday 26 October 2016

Fall Conference 2016 - Inspire

At Fall Conference this year the theme was “Inspire” and it was about movements that change the world. Our two big questions for the week were: what is a movement? And how can I join it? 

There were three movements of God we looked at throughout the week - the movement we see in Acts, the movement of the Moravians, and the movement today. And there were three significant points that we looked at in each of the movements - at the beginning, at the end of the first generation, and 100 years later. 

With the Moravians the beginning was in 1727, when revival broke out in the community of 400 at Hernhutt. By the end of that first generation John Wesley (who preached 40000 sermons) and George Whitfield (who was heard by 10 million people) had been converted, and the Moravians had translated the Bible into fifteen languages (before them the Bible was only in 35 languages). They started in the little corner of the Czech Republic that I call home and sent missionaries around the world, to unknown places.

And the truth is we are just at the beginning of seeing a new movement of God in central and eastern Europe. So we spent time sharing about what God is currently doing - and asking and praying about what we’ll see at the end of our generation, and what we’ll see one hundred years from now.

On the Tuesday of the conference we went, all 350 of us, on a field trip! We toured around three places in our region that were significant in the Moravian movement. It was incredible to listen to Dave sharing stories (via an audio tour app) about what God did in those places and with the people from those places! And one of the places was the Jesus Church on the Polish side of my town so it was good to learn more about it too! You can listen to the audio of the tour here.

Throughout the week we looked at how we can burn bright for God, through: 
  • unexpected obedience - listening to God and being quick to obey
  • staying clean - pursuing holiness, being quick to repent, sacrifice 
  • standing against darkness
  • going public with bold proclamations of faith
  • singing in suffering
  • radical evangelism

And we looked at what is necessary for us to burn long:
  • solve problems and deal with sickness and threats 
  • have healthy rhythms and healthy structures
  • leaders staying close to Jesus

We also had a lot of processing time built into the conference, to look at areas in our own lives and ministries that need to be brought under Christ again, and what God is asking us to do. And it was incredible to hear beautiful stories of how God is at work throughout this part of the world. 

If you would like to listen to the audio or see more photos from the week you can do so here.

In the last talk of the conference we were encouraged that we already know what we need to do - but we need to have courage to consistently do what we know we should do. And we were encouraged to not look for next steps that cost nothing - it’s going to cost something, but it will be worth it.

Please pray for all 350 people who were at the conference - pray that we would have the courage to listen to God, and quickly obey, and that we would burn bright and burn long for Jesus in central and eastern Europe.  

Tuesday 25 October 2016

Fall Camp Meeting 2016

Before Fall Conference each year we gather as a camp team to look back and rejoice at how God has been at work through camps in the last year, and look forward and plan and dream for the year and years ahead. 

This year the group was intentionally smaller, with primarily just the camp directors and intern directors from each country. So it felt a little like the United Nations, with us all sitting around a big table. 

It was beautiful to hear stories about how God has been at work in these nations through camps - local churches we partner with being strengthened, young people hearing the gospel and responding to it, and then growing in Christ and becoming leaders! This year we also had a lot more interns and short term team members serving in this movement. 

We also spent time planning for the year ahead, releasing and talking through new tools and praying. These are some of my favourite people, so it was also good to spend time together and catch up with what is going on in our lives. 

We are praying that God continues to use camps as a way to strengthen His church in central and eastern Europe, and it is such a joy to serve this ministry!