Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Inspiration for my future in Czech

I've been reading through some older emails in an effort to get a nice clean slate on my inbox. I have to admit that there are many unread emails that I've taken a quick glance at and then marked unread again - never getting back to them! I've been changing that today and it's been so encouraging! I've read updates about what God's been doing in the lives of missionary friends in the Czech Republic, old emails of how God has provided as they've raised support (the position I'm in now) and have just been reminded of why I am pursuing God's call to Czech.

Earlier this year my friend/boss Nate Hughes posted a blog entitled "Losing my religion?" That title has stuck with me as I've considered the overwhelmingly atheistic population of Czech and students I know who have not yet given their lives to Christ. It does break my heart.

This paradox of hopelessness and yet seeing fruit from this ministry gives me great hope for the future. I see God working amidst the chaos.

Below is an email from Mark Krupa that again got me thinking on this subject. His thoughts as a long-term missionary who has been living in Czech for many years is really insightful. I hope it blesses you as you pray for Czech and wrestle to live out your faith genuinely in this world.

_____________________________
Mark Krupa:
Here's what's in the news:

"A study using census data from nine countries shows that religion there is
set for extinction, say researchers."

"The result, reported at the American Physical Society meeting in Dallas,
US, indicates that religion will all but die out altogether in those [Nine]
countries. The team took census data stretching back as far as a century
from countries in which the census queried religious affiliation: Australia,
Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New
Zealand and Switzerland."
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12811197



So that's our situation here in the Czech Republic according to mathematical
models.

And if you spend time here you'll see we are not in good shape.



I am once again amazed at the spiritual condition of the Czech Republic.
Evidences like: extremely low numbers of believers, bickering churches,
missionaries who won't don't or can't stick it out and stay, exhausted
pastors, leaders caught in sin, political frustration, a very disheartening
Christian history, a lack of evangelism, a lack of response to evangelism, a
lack of converted believers growing into tall trees with deep roots,
virtually zero Christian teachers in the universities, virtually zero
believers in politics, very few model Christian homes, unhealthy Christian
communities, unhealthy families, foreigners who come to work in Prague but
can't get into the culture, language or disciple-making, missionary
revolving door syndrome, troubled teens, troubled families, troubled
schools, a rejection of God, no eternal life secured before death.



And much much more.

It can get you down, huh!

But it's not getting me down for long!

It's not keeping my team down. We are united and strong.

All these statistics draw us to live here and stay here and be active here!

That is why you are praying for our work here.

That is why your moral support has been so helpful!



This is why we are out training workers, discipling souls, sharing the Good
News with individuals through camps, youth groups, small groups, TV
programs, media, School & City Concerts and Seminars, café meetings,
distribution of Christian literature, etc. This is why we have the
Malenovice Center for Training and Evangelism where we build up and train up
hundreds of Christians. That is why we pray over and take care of effective
key leaders in this country. That is why our team is planting new churches
and groups like evangelistic home youth gatherings and evangelistic rock
choirs. That is why we are praying so hard for softer soil and fertile
ground for a coming spiritual renewal for the empty souls of these busy but
barren people.



God is at work! We are fighting the good fight! We have hope! One of the
most encouraging things I read as I'm finishing my final class for my
Masters Degree is that at year 100 there were still less than one-half of
one percent Christians in the Roman population. The Holy Spirit changed
that radically from years 100-400. In Czech we have the most atheistic
country on earth but not the least-Christian (that's the country of Turkey).
We have ½ of 1% believers. Pray with us that the Holy Spirit moves through
our willing hearts and changes the nation visibly!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Heading that direction

I'm still headed in the right direction, toward full-time ministry in the Czech Republic. I am a little tired of the now-and-not-yet of going back and forth doing ministry and coming home, and am excited to be on my way. I'm about half-way there. I still have more support to raise by the end of the year if I'm to move to Czech at the beginning of next, but I'm looking for about 25 more people to step up and support me monthly. If 25 people can give consistently, I'll be able to join the ministry of spreading the Gospel in the most atheistic country in the world and to training young leaders to do the same. What an exciting ministry to be apart of!

Otherwise here's what I'm doing at home in Hawaii: Leading a Sunday morning group in evangelism and faith basics, substitute teaching when I can (I just got rehired!), spending time with family and friends, communicating with partners and potential supporters, building up a team of people who will pray for me weekly on a specific day, and trying to nourish my soul as I "wait."

I'd appreciate your prayers and support. Anyone you know who might want to partner with this ministry? Contact me.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Summer's Over and I'm Headed Home in a Few Days

I've done a poor job of updating this blog, and I hoped for it to be a place to constantly check up on me and where I am now. You can always check my Twitter feed on the right (twitter.com/joshhawaii), or try my mobile photo blog at joshhawaii.posterous.com.

I STILL HOPE TO UPDATE HERE, ESPECIALLY AS I MOVE TO THE CZECH REPUBLIC FULL TIME. I'm not quite there yet.

I spent another great summer of ministry with many students who are really considering God for the first time, our considering following him with their whole life. Our English camps were successful this summer because many students took steps toward Christ, and at our past camp we welcomed a new brother in Christ, Petr.

I've spent the last week with my team in Prague, getting them ready to go home after such a great experience. They served well and sacrificed so much this summer, and went home on Friday tired! Pray for Annie, Brad, Brianne, and Sarah as they head back into their normal lives of school and work.

I'm also ending my summer sick with some viral infection, which is forcing me to slow down, rest, and take time with God to see what he's done in me this summer. I FLY BACK TO HAWAII ON FRIDAY TO CONTINUE RAISING SUPPORT TO MOVE TO CZECH IN THE NEAR FUTURE. The team is eager and ready to receive me.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Awana Camp Presentation Video

I had the opportunity again to share my story with the AWANA Kids at camp via video. I hope some of them contact me to tell me how camp went, and I kept them in my prayers from the other side of the world. Below I have included the video for your enjoyment. I dislike videos of myself as most people do, so feel free to laugh when you see me talking to a camera propped up on a table and ottoman combo.

Amazing Race Photos

Here are a few random phone pics from during the amazing race this year. Check out the full size on Facebook...



Saturday, June 25, 2011

Amazing Race Destinations

Our Amazing Race was from June 1-3, the first thing we did with the interns hours after they got off the plane. It was a great team-building exercise that brought our team together from total strangers to some sort of team. We went through Prague for 2 days and on the last day headed to the other side of the country. I'll put some pics up, but for now here's our route/destinations in Prague in Google map form (zoom out to see more of the country).


View Amazing Race 2011 in a larger map

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Trio of Visits

I want to get a quick update about what we've been doing. Over the last two weeks we've been visiting the three Czech churches we're doing camp with this summer. We just got back today from a double-header visit with Hradec Kralove and Havlickuv Brod, having spent the previous weekend with Trebic.

Trebic was a blessing. As a new group they are very excited about sharing their faith with others and expanding their group. They've also grown a lot this year apparently and have several young believers attending. It was great to spend the weekend with them out at a cottage in Brodek. I also had the opportunity to preach in church on Sunday, encouraging the church to pray some specific things for our team from Colossians 1:9-12 and 4:1-4. Czech churches are good about praying (and I really appreciate how they have 'popcorn style' prayer in their services), and I wanted to piggyback on that for their congregation to be involved going in to camp.

Hradec Kralove is a church with a long-standing tradition of camp, and I've been blessed to be involved for the last two years. Two people on our intern team have done camp with Hradec for 5-6 years, with deep relationships that they were able to dive back into. It's my second year with them. Their leadership is very solid on the logistics and organization of camp, with some of the younger guys needing to branch out more from their comfort zone. They've been under new leadership this school year, and Vitek's been doing a great job. I loved seeing him share 2 Cor 5 with the team (our ministry of reconciliation, etc) before launching into camp details, and it's obvious that this is the place God has for him to serve. It was also cool to see one of the guys specifically making a new Czech guy feel welcome to the group during our time together on Sunday.

Havlickuv Brod also has a tradition of camp, and three years ago started back up after several years without camps. I've been able to walk with them through the last three years. While we didn't get as much time with them as I would have liked (they had a really busy set of weeks during our visiting timeframe), it was still a great time getting our new interns connected with the team. They're a blast and a very interesting set of people. Our biggest purpose was to promote camp in schools to fill 15 more spots at camp, and school visits went well. I had some good conversations with the youth group members, and even on the train ride back we had a good discussion. I'm learning to ask simple questions to start spiritual discussions.

We're spending the next week preparing English Lessons (Evening message prep for me) after a day of rest. Training starts in a week~and I'm helping lead it. Camp starts the following Saturday, 7/2.

p.s. my co leader Sarah is blogging too http://sarahhalm.blogspot.com/

Thursday, May 26, 2011

In Czech for the Summer

I'll be in the Czech Repoublic this summer from May 25th-August 19th for summer programs. We'll be doing three camps this summer. I will return in the Fall to Hawaii to continue raising support. I must then be fully funded before returning to Czech to serve with Josiah Venture full-time. Please keep me in prayer this summer and for more support raising.

My intern team:
Josh
Sarah
Annie
Brad
Brianne

Interns Arrive June 1st for training, etc. We'll be promoting camp and preparing until June 28th, when our first team arrives and camp starts!

Towns:
Hradec Kralove w/FL Church
Havlickuv Brod w/AK Church
Trebic (New) w/FL (Jerry's) Church

Photoblog week 1


Here's a collage of my first week-ish of pictures
Check it out daily at joshhawaii.posterous.com

Thursday, May 19, 2011

daily/photo/micro/blogging

I've decided to start a daily photo blog with simple images from my day taking from my phone. This is a fun way to keep up with me throughout the summer. Check it out at joshhawaii.posterous.com . I WILL CONTINUE TO POST UPDATES ON THIS BLOG, SO STAY TUNED!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Support Team Development


Download it here: JV Support Letter Josh
I'm getting ready to send out a set of letters. I'm at about 24% of $3600 in monthly commitments and still have about $23,500 to raise in one-time outgoing costs. I know there are people out there who are ready to support me, and you may be one of them. I'm also trying to get ahold of two churches currently and hopefully people can help me make connections to more churches this month. Would you please pray for a big push in support raising in the next month? If you know anyone else that might be able to support me financially or through prayer, please forward this on to them and introduce me to them.


-Update-
Monday I had an encouraging conversation with a friend from Josiah Venture. He called while I was at the beach with some friends, and just wanted to see how things were going. He encouraged me in my support raising, and reminded me that the team wants me in Czech in the beginning of May for our Spring Conference. I would really love to be there then, and I believe that God can make it happen. So I'm redoubling my support raising efforts and got a set of letters out this week. Would you please pray with me for God to raise up prayer supports and financial supporters to cover my monthly and one-time costs so I can be in Czech the first week in May? I'm really seeking the Lord on this, and am firm as ever in my calling to go to the Czech Republic to equip young leaders to fulfill Christ's commission through the local church.

To join my prayer team contact me here on Josiah Venture's website.
To support me financially, click to give on Josiah Venture's website.
Or just view my JV profile

Monday, February 28, 2011

Celebrating Birthdays


My friends and I have celebrated a lot of birthdays in the last few weeks. The most special was my brother's 15th birthday near the beginning of this month. To celebrate, we took him out to IHOP for pancakes (his favorite), made him a doughnut-shaped cake, and got him a few belated presents (a book that was coming out a week later and concert tickets). A new tradition that we somehow started last year was for me to take my bro to a concert for his birthday, and this year it was his favorite band, OneRepublic. It was an awesome outdoor show at Aloha tower, and my second time seeing them. I previously went with my best friend Jerry while at Moody. Jacob been a blessing in my life. I'm really going to miss him when I'm in Czech, but it was great to share this moment with him.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bible Studies While I'm in Hawaii


I've been continuing my Bible Studies with the people/students in this picture. In our Monday night study we've been watching videos from the Passion Conference held earlier this year and gear towards college students and twenty-somethings. It's been great to discuss these videos while we figure out what book of the Bible to study next. On Wednesdays our guys Bible study is going through I Timothy, discussing Paul's charge to Timothy as a young leader. It's been great to discuss this book with these young guys, all who have leadership potential or are already leading. Please pray for growth in both these groups and that when I leave for the summer they can keep the study going as they did when I was gone last time.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Thanksgiving, Birthday, New Years' Celebration




I had a wonderful holiday season celebrating with my family in Hawaii for possibly the last time in a while. For both Thanksgiving and Christmas I had friends over who made the season special. Some of you may wonder how it can "feel like Christmas" in Hawaii with the heat, and I have come to agree. The snow I experienced in Colorado helped it to "feel like Christmas," but beyond that I took extra care this season to not just let this time of celebrating Christ's birth pass me by. It was a great time to contemplate once again the wonder and awe of God becoming human, one of us, so that one day he could die and be the perfect sacrifice.

Check this out:
"Christ's humanity was not a mere fleshly shell that God rented and used for a temporary amount of time. God did not just come to live in flesh as a man, but the 'Word became flesh' (John 1:14). God incorporated human nature into His eternal being. In the incarnation humanity has been permanently incorporated into the Godhead. God is now a man in addition to being God. At the virgin conception God acquired an identity He would retain for the rest of eternity. His human existence is both authentic and permanent. Jesus' humanity is not something that can be discarded or dissolved back into the Godhead, but He will always and forever exist in heaven as a glorified man, albeit God at the same time."
-Jason Dulle taken from http://www.theopedia.com/Hypostatic_Union


New Year's celebration was also the last year that many fireworks were legal in Hawaii, and the whole place went crazy with the fire show. As I walked home from the party I took some time to thank God for all he's done in this last year in anticipation of the things to come. I am so excited for the future...with our God all things are possible and we cannot imagine what he has planned for us.
(I'm still looking for some pics that are floating around my hard drive somewhere, so I'm missing some people...sorry!)