Starting with a bang and teaching all over:
Landing: Wow! I have been in the Czech Republic for five days and this is the first time I have had time to sit down and write an update. After an uneventful flight on Tuesday, I arrived Wednesday and hit the ground running. On Wednesday I was picked up at the airport by Tomaš Polivka (one of the missionaries we support here) and began to settle in. We stopped at his office where he manages a Christian music and Christian book distribution center for the Czech Republic. (He has about fifteen other jobs as well.) In the two hours I was there I met a few other friends from the CZR who happened to drop in. One was Martin Stepanenkó who has been a translator for me a number of times in the past. He is currently finishing his studies at the University and is a Youth Pastor in Cheb. He has an amazing story of coming to Christ. Ask me about it.
Noe Christian School: On Thursday I got up early and headed out to Pardubice. Navigating public transportation and the trains has become surprisingly easy even though I go to all the same places. I probably would not be as confident if I had to go someplace I have never been before. I was met in Pardubice by Marketa Chenmlova. Marketa is the director of the Christian school in Pardubice. It is an evangelistic outreach of Archa Church. It is really amazing. They do not target Christians to come to the school but non-Christians. The appeal is that they have smaller classroom sizes and they teach English in every grade. Typical Czech elementary schools have 28-35 students. They have a maximum of 15 per class. They do not hide the fact that they will be teaching Bible stories or learning Bible verses. Two entire families have come to Christ already this year. Our church has been able to support them, and we hope to support them even more in the future.
Teaching English in Public High School: Friday morning I was up early and by 7:15 I was teaching my first of four English classes in one of the high schools in Pardubice. I was invited so the students could have a chance to interact with a native English speaker (students from Archa Church who attend high school there set it all up). I had a two-fold purpose: sharing my faith and inviting students to English camp. In each of the classes (9, 10, 11, 12 grade) I shared about who I am and what it is like to live in America. They were amazed that I had been to the CZR over 25 times. That gave me a chance to talk about what I love about CZR culture and how it is different from America. When I was asked about my job, it was easy to fold the Gospel into my talk. I am certain it was the first time many of the students had heard directly from someone who believes in God. It was also the first time (and I hope not the last time) for many of them to hear that God loves them enough to send His Son to die for them. I invited them to trust in Christ’s provision and find forgiveness. I also invited them to come and join us this summer at English camp.
Afternoon Connections and Evening Party: In the afternoon I spent time with friends and then gathered in the evening for an English camp reunion party at a Pub (it’s the CZR so it makes sense). About 25 students gathered and we had a great time from 6-9:30. Two highlights I must share. Dolek, a bright young student who came to camp for the first time three years ago, has been an ardent and articulate atheist his entire life. He does, however, really enjoy being a part of the youth group. This year while studying human anatomy at medical school he came to the realization that the human body and how it is designed and works so perfectly cannot be an accident of evolution. There has to be a creator. Then his conclusion was, if there really is a God then all that he has been told about God’s love and Jesus must be true as well. He is now in the baptism preparation classes at Archa Church. Another great story is that Tereza (red-haired Terka) who came to camp for the first time four years ago and trusted Christ later that year, has decided to be a Josiah Venture intern all summer long in Latvia where she will be leading English camps there. Unbelievable, our mission work has generated a missionary from the CZR to Latvia.
Pastoral Counseling: I was on a train early Saturday morning headed back to Prague. I was a little confused about the starting and ending times for the seminar on Pastoral Counseling I was teaching. My understanding was that I was going to teach from 10:00-3:30 so I was little confused about why I was on the 6:45 train back to Prague. As it turns out I am glad I was because the seminar was from 9:00-5:00. It was a great day. Thirty Christina lay-counselors from all over the country were there. I really enjoy the teaching and interactions we had but another side benefit was the connections they all made with each other. This has been a goal for the past three years and it seems like it is starting to really gain momentum. I was finished by 4:00 and thought we would just end early but the Q and A time lasted right up till 5:00. It was great.
Preaching and Meeting Old Friends: This morning (Sunday) I was able to preach at Vinohrady Church in Prague. This is the church we used to partner with for English camps from 2002-2008. We still have many great friends there. We stayed at the church for over an hour catching up and setting up a few meetings over the next couple of days. One of the highlights was finding out that Miloš Šolc (Shultz), the retired pastor of the church, will be in the states in April. We talked about trying to set up a meeting. I would love for some of you to meet him. His English is not very good, but we have become good friends over the years (he and his wife got up at 6:00 a.m. this morning and took a bus from Jablonić to Prague to hear me preach).
Please be praying for me and the rest of my trip. I still have a seminar to teach comparing Christianity and Islam and a men’s conference next weekend. I miss you all and am looking forward to sharing more stories when I return.
For the only cause that matters,