Saturday, September 28, 2013

Radiate (Burn Bright)

Conference was great! I wasn't necessarily looking forward to it because it felt like bad timing, but God met me there. 

ra·di·ate  (our theme)
Emit (energy, esp. light or heat) in the form of rays or waves.
(of light, heat, or other energy) Be emitted in such a way.

White Hot Faith that radiates to the people around me - that's what I want. We believe that as we are set on fire by Christ we will naturally Radiate his love to the people around us. We don't meet with Christ in order to Radiate, but in order to know him. 

I was especially struck by the reminder that God pursues us more than we can ever imagine. I've learned to better pursue God in the last few months, but even that is a byproduct of his pursuit of me. There are a lot of things I learned or was encouraged by, but knowing Christ, and meeting with Him (and reading a ton in the Bible) was the biggest takeaway. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Jacob in Czech

A quick visit to see my place in Ostrava before camp
This summer I also had my first family member come to visit/serve. Now entering his senior year of high school, Jacob came to serve with our teams at first camp (Šumperk / New Hope, MN). Despite coming in with no existing relationships with anyone other than me, he did a great job loving Czech students, serving well, thinking intentionally about  ministry, and connecting with the teams. I loved seeing his love for people come out in the way he served at camp - something we've seen in him from childhood. I also loved introducing him to my Czech friends in Sumperk, to the EC Team, and to other friends here. We didn't have any extra time beyond when the US team was here, so we took some time in Prague together before he flew out. That was a hard goodbye, both with the US team and my brother.
Hike Day at Camp

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The best intern debrief since 2010…because I was there and healthy

Last summer ('12) I was in Serbia waiting for my visa; the year before ('11) I was sick & on my way to getting pneumonia…I've had some lousy intern debriefing times over the last few years. This year I was fully present, able to debrief team members, and spent time with all the interns talking about the summer. We got Mexican food, explored a castle hill in southern Prague, shared stories of how we saw God work, paddle-boated, found awesome Pho-Vietnamese soup (okay, maybe that was just me), encouraged each other as individual teams, and said goodbye. It was a great end to the summer. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Team Hawaii's (my team) English camps 2013 in a nutshell

Deeper Relationships - Šumperk
At Sumperk camp, I got to connect with some new people while serving with people I've known for years. It was a pleasure and joy to serve with the team from New Hope MN, and it was inspiring to see Jeremy and Jess lead their students well. Though some of the Czech team members that I've worked with in years previous were not able to be at camp, I loved working with the team of Czechs - both new and old. I even got to use more Czech language as the main leader of camp did not speak so much English. These deeper relationships before camp made serving with this group a joy.

Strak Attack Double Intern Goodness
Because the US team that planned on coming to camp couldn't bring together a team, we had two intern teams team up to put on camp. Our teams loved serving together, but what I loved most was seeing the solid Czech team serve well - they loved students with Christ's love, were selfless in their service, and they led students to Christ. Eight students put their faith in Christ, and the team is definitely seeing fruit in some of their lives. This camp was a stretch for me because for the first time I taught English while teaching the evening messages. It was so much fun to spend time with my class, and they were very gracious in receiving what I had to teach.

HOT Havlickuv Brod DAYS
Camp was HOT, really, and despite that we had a great week. The weather did make for some lethargy at camp; in general people were less active during those days and even after it cooled down. It was a pleasure working with Jonatan again - even though he's not the leader of youth group throughout the year and just focuses on camp, he's got a real heart for ministry and intentionally thinks through how he can lead best. There are a few key people I'd like to continue to connect with this year, either in person or online.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Encouraging relationships in July

I am loving the summer ministry with my team & Czech & US youth groups!

My brother came to our first camp of the summer. The first week in July was Sumperk camp. Some people I've known since 2007, so it was great to serve with them again. I also enjoyed being at camp with students from my English club. One of the best things, though, was serving alongside my brother. I really enjoyed having him here and serving alongside him for the week. He connected to the US Team (from New Hope, MN) and Czechs well. It was hard to see him leave. 

I made a quick jump from dropping my brother (and the team) off at the airport to second term training and our next camp. It was sudden, but I definitely saw God sustaining me through it. Our second camp, with Elim Strakonice was a blast even without a separate American team. We paired up with another intern team and worked with a very well-organized Czech team. 

For the first time ever, I taught English and the evening Bible stories. Normally I am part of an English class (1/2 time and not lead teaching) and do the evening talks. It was great to do both and it went well. I loved sharing stories of Peter and the Gospel from the front as well as have a personal connection with students in class. 

Tomorrow, English camp with Havlickuv Brod and a team from Eagle River, Alaska starts. I've done camp with these guys for years, though missed it last year because of my Serbian exile (which is still a little weird). Pray for students at this camp to experience Christ and respond to the Gospel clearly preached. 

Pray also for...
Students from our first two camps to still get plugged in to relationships with Christians
Christians at our first two camps to continue to serve and be "on mission"
Energy for our intern team, though we're doing pretty well!
A good debrief after camp. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

June has flown by, training starts tomorrow, camp Saturday.

I can hardly believe that the month of June is coming to an end. It seems like not so long ago my interns were arriving in Kiev and we kicked off our summer. Our visits this month have been a great way for us to connect with youth groups in Sumperk, Strakonice, and H Brod as a team. I also really loved time with my team last we shared testimonies with one another I felt like we connected a lot better and know each other more. This is important going into camp service together.

Tomorrow the team from New Hope, MN arrives to do camp with us and Sumperk. My brother is also flying to serve with us and I'm pumped for these relationships. Sumperk is my longest-standing Czech church relationship, and I love the leaders of the US team.  Several of the Czech team members are different this year, but I am confident that God has prepared them for this service.

Pray for students to connect individually with the Czech team - relationships that will be built on the Gospel and lead to mature faith in Christ.
Pray for the details of camp to work out, and that I (and the rest of the team/organizers) always respond in a Christlike way to whatever difficulties await.
Pray for good time with students....I've tried to place myself in a position where I can love on students more are camp this year. 
Pray for a good time serving with my brother - serving alongside him is a first.

As always, keep track of camp and faces to pray for on instagram, facebook, or twitter

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Up and down in the fog...intern training was great!

We got to stay in the cabins down the hill from our training center, Malenovice. It was a foggy week, with a lot of rain and less light, but a great week of equipping our interns. 
The content wasn't really new for me, but the interns got to hear some of the things
 we've covered this year at conferences. I was really encouraged to listen to the Holy Spirit in the little things, and to not wait to follow until I hear the whole picture. That's how we walk in step with the Spirit (Gal 5, especially v 25 
Country time each afternoon was also new for us. We got to meet as a group of over 30 people (27 interns & leaders) serving in Czech to discuss some particulars of our summer here. I enjoyed the time with them. Intern training was great for our team and from there we went straight into our first visit. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Running around Ukraine...interns and the summer kicks off!

The last week of May we started our journey to Ukraine to meet the interns serving with Josiah Venture (even those serving in Czech :). It was quite the journey just to get there and included 2 overnight trains, a nap in the church, and some time to explore the beautiful city of Lviv before heading to Kiev. We arrived to the airport tired (like the interns), but with a purpose. 
The Amazing Race kicks off our summer every year. It's been a great tool to form our intern teams and is a gauge of how the team will work together (or not) during the rest of the summer. This years race was one of the best, because it stretched our team, involved a greater language barrier (Cyrillic), and covered a longer distance. 
We went from Kiev Wednesday overnight to Lviv, spent the night in Lviv and headed to Krakow (the finish) on Friday. My team pushed hard and came in first the 2nd night, finishing in 2nd in the end. It was a great race, and my team will serve well together this summer.  
2nd place team!
Check out more pics on Instagram tagged #jvamazingrace13 (

Monday, May 27, 2013

Intern leader training...the summer begins!

Our time with the intern leaders has been so great....I'm gonna miss being able to talk ministry and spend life with these great people. We've spent the last week talking through some summer details and giving them a bigger picture of the summer ministry. They're all at different levels of experience, but most of them are new to leading. 

Rob and Jonathan have been leading this mainly, but Audrey and I have been able to build in by sharing our experience and what we've thought through. I really enjoyed working through intern leader training this way, as it allows me the freedom to speak when needed. We've had a mix of free time and sessions, and it's been really good.

This morning I packed up my stuff for the summer, and we head to Ukraine tonight to start the Amazing Race Wednesday. It's gonna be a crazy week, but I am so looking forward to building into and getting to know my team better.

Monday, May 13, 2013

My first second....going to Spring Conference for the second time

Last year I arrived just hours before Spring Conference, where we talked about the Fatherhood of God (I still want to go through some of that material again). Spring Conference is a bit of a marker for my time serving full-time with JV, and this year I came into it a bit more rested (no jet-lag) and ready to engage with the JV Family. One of the best parts of it (other than great teaching) is the family environment. I love being with this group of people all seeking to know God, to serve him with all that they are, and to teach others to do the same. There were 150 adults and 90 kids, so there were always packs of children wandering around. I loved it!
The JV Family, 2013
Our theme this year was "The Upside Down Kingdom," focusing on how God's Kingdom (and our relationship with Him) functions sometimes exactly the opposite of what we think. For example, Jesus says in Mark 8:34-38 that "whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it." The principle is that by trying to hold on to your life you actually lose it.

Dave, our president and speaker...I didn't know the best pic I had of him was from this seminar!
I was really challenged by the session on prayer. We went through Matthew 7:7-12, a very familiar passage. Here are some thoughts from the talk:
Often we pray either careful prayers (unspecific or we ask but don't wait for an answer) or demanding prayers (telling God to do something) that turn into complaining prayers. Jesus, however, calls us to ASK, SEEK, and KNOCK. Ask - actually be asking God for things. Seek - seek Him above all else, do whatever it takes. Knock - ask for doors to be opened, and knock for God to open them. It's easy to drift away from praying consistently for things.
So, how do I get back to asking, seeking, and knocking? I need to know Four secrets of the Kingdom
1. The secret of a good Father - Matt 7:9-11 
2. The secret of good gifts - Matt 7:11 - God doesn't give us the things we think are good, but better.
3. The secret of shameless audacity - Luke 11:5-8 - boldness, without shame
4. The secret of persistent prayer - Luke 18:1-8 - it builds strength and perseverance

I loved the picture Dave gave on persistent prayer: Prayer is like a man (you/me) in a boat pulling himself to a lighthouse in the fog. Often we can't see the lighthouse, but it's there. God could immediately get us to the lighthouse (answer the prayer immediately), but it's through pulling (constantly seeking in prayer) that we are strengthened to persevere, especially in future trials. Through this process we are strengthened to further abide in Christ in prayer.

I'm pulling, are you?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Just Shy of One Year

This is not the big blog post writing about my entire year of living in the Czech Republic, just a simple late-night blog post of thankfulness.

I am thankful that God has given me one year in this country, and laid on my heart many people who I want to see grow in Christ (or start their journey as one of God's children).
I am thankful that this language no longer feels so foreign, despite so many times I understand just less than enough.
I am thankful that I have people here who do love Jesus and persue him faithfully, while pushing me to do the same.
I am thankful for the countless lessons I have learned and the ways God has stretched me.
I am thankful that I have been brought into the English Camp team and feel valued.
I am thankful for some time in Prague, as well as good time with people all over Czech.
I am thankful for an excellent roommate.
I am thankful for the little things that bring me joy.
I am thankful that winter is over and the air is warm again.

I am thankful that the work is not done and my time continues.
I am thankful for the upcoming summer of ministry.

In about 45 minutes I will celebrate my one-year anniversary of getting to Czech as a full-time ministry. I plan to be sleeping, resting in the fact that God is orchestrating something great in the lives of his people (and those who he will call in the future), and being a part of this in prayer and work.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Training up youth for camp and year-round ministry (Trainings in Malenovice|Praha|Tabor)

Malenovice Training - a fun group pic
Every April the English Camp Team holds trainings in order to better equip youth groups to serve at camp and get a picture for the year of ministry beyond. A big chunk of it is focused on English Camp as the upcoming ministry that we can gather them around, but really we want to see the students and leaders that come be equipped to do ministry throughout the year. I've been looking forward to being a part of this for a while, though in the weeks before I was hit with spiritual attack, homesickness, and some disillusionment. It was great to work through that with my team and people close to me, and it was definitely Satan's tactic to keep me from being effective at these trainings (he failed, by God's grace I was able to minister to these students/leaders).
Praha Training - Our biggest one
Our trainings were in Malenovice, Praha, and Tabor to minimize the time teams needed to travel there and hopefully allow more people to come. Our biggest training was in Praha with almost 150 people thanks to some groups bringing 14 or 15 people from their youth group.
Tabor training - I'll be doing camp with some of these people (Strakonice)
What I loved about the trainings was being able to teach people on How to prepare a short bible message and Creating a team/youth group cultured centered on Christ and getting to know more youth group students that are learning to serve in their cities. I met several people for the first time, and got to reconnect with some of the groups I've been working with. As with other big events, I felt like it was hard to get enough time with the people I wanted to connect with, and I am glad I get to see several of them more this summer at camp.
David taught on Jonah at each training (this is the first)
We were in a packed house in Praha

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Everything looks so foreign

I am so completely surprised how unrecognizable things are around me. I've been so used to cold, snow, white, dark, etc. that I forgot what this place looked like when I got here. It honestly feels/looks like a different place. My neighborhood in Ostrava looked mostly like this in September and October, but there's pretty much been snow on the ground since November 1st. The air is warmer too, which is refreshing.

I think spring is coming.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Kentuckians in Trinec

Last week I was with a group of people from Kentucky, students and youth leaders. They are from Southeast Christian Church (SECC) and we are partnering with them for ministry here in Europe. They've already had interns come over last summer and a team for this summer is ready to come work with Hradec Kralove.

There were 10 people on the trip, and they spent most of their time with the CB/AC groups in nearby Trinec. I was able to join them for the second half of the trip. We did an overnight event with students they met in school on Wednesday, went to a Fusion (Music Ministry) on Thursday, and went to Prague on Friday for their 6 am flight Saturday.

I really loved Jason's leadership of the group, and the lessons he drew out from their experiences. One of the things that he said stuck out to me: "I believe that the areas in which we are learning new things are areas in which Christ is triumphing over Satan and setting us free" (paraphrased). This was good for the students to hear and for me personally.

One of the things they are taking back with them from this short (1-week) trip is a heart for the lost and a desire to create space for lost people to experience Christ in their ministries. Fusion was a great catalyst for them, as many of them are quite musically talented.  Pray for this team as they go back and try to make a few changes; pray that they would find tangible ways to reach out to lost people; pray that the students they met in Czech (Trinec) would meet and follow Christ.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Moody: Liberec, Herrnhut, & YWAM

Moody Group in front of Herrnhut YWAM
Our Moody trip is in full swing this week. We travelled immediately from Prague to Liberec (North of Prague). There we spent time with the youth group, got to participate in church, have a youth group evening event, visit schools, and lead an outreach party.

One special treat was to get some time with Olča, who I've worked with in Hradec the last few years. She moved with her family to Liberec in the last two years and now is working with the team to start English camp there.

We then went on to visit Herrnhut, a key place in the movement of the Moravian Brethren. Basically, God was moving in a group of Czechs in a powerful way, which has had a global impact. They lived in community in the town of Herrnhut. To read more about the Moravian Brethren, read the history on Wikipedia here.

We also visited YWAM just down the road from the town.  We got to hear the history of this group and about their ministries. The group picture above was taken on the way into the "castle."

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Upcoming: Moody Trip

I have the pleasure of hosting a group of students from Moody starting this week for the next two weeks. This is the same trip I came on in 2007, with the same professor leading it. I am excited to be on the other side of this journey, having moved over to the Czech Republic. Now I am the full-time missionary, and I get to share with these students the excitement (ups and downs, of course) of ministry here in Czech.

These students have prayed for their trip together, taken time to prepare materials and teaching, and are probably now in the process of packing everything they need to spend their whole spring break in the Czech Republic.  Please pray that they would get a good taste of ministry here, have a deep impact on the people they meet (leaders and students, christians and those who do not believe (yet)), and that they are responsive to how God might be calling them in the future, whether here or elsewhere.

This is the trip that set me on the path to ministry in Czech, pray that Jon, Martina, and I cast the vision for what God IS doing in Central (and Eastern) Europe. You can also pray for safe travels, good attitudes when problems come up, and physical and relational energy.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Ostrava Costume Party

"Oscars" Party in Ostrava Mladez (Youth Group)
This weekend I got some good time with people in my city.  The big event of the weekend was our costume party in youth group, pictured above. We played some movie-related games (I knew quotes from two movies I Czech!), had a short message, and enjoyed some laughs together.

Saturday evening I hung out with a guy from youth group more, and Sunday afternoon got time with both people from church and from our Czech class. I really enjoy time with these people, and am having some good conversations with them. Pray for God to work in me and others around me to further develop a Christ-centered community here in Ostrava.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Saturday with KOSTEL Jinak (Plus a birthday party)

Worship at KOSTEL Jinak - 10,000 Reasons in English with Czech Translation
This weekend I was in Sumperk, the group I have the longest connections with. They have a new church plant that meets Saturday evenings called KOSTEL Jinak (Church another way, differently). The link is in Czech, but just know that they have some really good stuff going on and are focused on strong/good theology.

Before KOSTEL I played a game of Settlers of Catan with Vasek and Lubos. These guys love Jesus and are a lot of fun to be with.  During the evening service, I understood parts of the message but unfortunately did not understand enough of the message. I'm still working on learning Czech, and asking God to specifically give me understanding in instances such as these.

After KOSTEL I went to a nearby pub/restaurant to celebrate Martin's birthday. I am visiting Sumperk every Wednesday to do an English club, and he's in it. I've known him for a while now. What was most exciting was being able to spend more time with him and to see several students from our English club, who I've just met over the last month and a half. I got to chat with them and have a specifically good conversation with one student who is a believer.

I'll be in Sumperk again Wednesday for English Club before a few weeks break for the upcoming Moody Trip around Czech.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Singles in Slovakia

Part of our group - exploring the city (Me, Ed, Josh, Susan, Jon) - photo by Mark Krupa
Last weekend we were hosted by the the Rumbolds (Ed & Wendy w/kids) in Eastern Slovakia for a Josiah Venture Singles weekend together. Several people were unable to make it (there are more singles in JV), but the group we had was so good to be with. Ed and Wendy opened up their home and their family to us for rest, fellowship, love, laughs, and fun.  I especially loved getting to know them and their kids more, and it was the perfect mix of fellowship and rest.

The journey from Ostrava (home) to Bardejov (SK) was long, but so worth it. On the way there we chatted with Mark Krupa (serving in Czech) on the train, and on the way back we got some time with Alice and Susan (serving in Poland). There are some great singles and great families serving with JV, and it is such a pleasure to be serving with them across Central and Eastern Europe. I hope we continue to build momentum for future singles weekends.

Thanks Ed and Wendy and kids!
Travel shots collage on Instagram

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Oh Bible study – Ecclesiastes in Ostrava

Sunday night I got back to Ostrava just in time for the youth/college group's Bible study (going through Ecc 3). I have loved attending with these guys/girls the past 3 weeks in a row. Most of it's in Czech, So I can be a test of my language ability. It's great to see a group of students who want to know God and His Word, even in something as difficult as Ecclesiastes. It's also forced me to study Ecclesiastes more, as I won't understand the discussion very well. Knowing what someone is talking about in Czech a little bit better before hand helps me understand a lot better.

Hradec Kralove - Youth group and a LAN party

This Weekend I had the pleasure of again traveling to Hradec. On Friday night at youth group I spoke about salt and light and hung out with students afterwards. It was such a good time with them. Saturday I got to talk about ministry with the leaders before starting our afternoon/evening LANka - LAN/video game party. It was a mix of believers and unbelievers. Sunday was a normal service followed by an all church lunch.

I was able to stop by and spend an hour with Andrea and Tessa, who are teaching and serving in Pardubice.