Czech Republic 2013

Czech Republic

Dates:  July 8 - 24
Ministry Partner:
  Josiah Venture
Ministry Focus:
  Friendship evangelism among teenagers, English Camp

We will continue our partnership with Josiah Venture int he Czech Republic. Their evangelistic English camps have proven to be an effective tool to help local churches reach students with the Gospel. The team will partner with a Czech youth  group to provide a camp experience for believing and unbelieving Czech teens, with the Grace team members serving as English conversational partners. The team will again partner with a youth group in the city of Cheb, continuing existing relationships and building new ones. The ministry in Czech focuses on relationships and friendship evangelism.

Updated Monday, July 29
The three team members who have remained in Czech to lead the final English camp of the year are doing well.  They are at camp now and are serving alongside some interns from Josiah Venture mission.  Camp is going well and the 3 are bonding well with the interns.  Continue to pray for them as they continue at camp and then back in the camper's hometown where they will spend a few days with them and their families.

Updated Thursday, July 25
Most of the Czech team arrived home last night, having had a great experience sharing the love of Christ with Czech teenagers.  Thank you for your prayers for them as they continue to build those relationships from a distance.  Plan to come hear from the team (and other teams from around the world) at the GO Team Celebration on Sunday night, September 15, at 6:00pm in the Worship Center.

In response to the cancellation of an American team that was due to serve this week, three of our team members have remained in the Czech Republic for another camp.  Thanks for your conitnued prayers for Ashley, Sabrina and Richie as they go above and beyond their original commitment.  Here is an e-mail from Ashley:

"We just got to training in Breclav again and we will be here until Saturday when we will go to a different camp for one week and then I think we will leave the following Saturday to stay with host families again and then leave for debrief on  Monday. We are trying to catch a train to Cheb on the Tuesday after to visit our friends from last weeks camp because we want to see them again before we leave. Then we come home that Wednesday.

Please pray for us because last week we had 15 Americans to 30 Czech students and now there are 8 Americans to 70 students. Me and Sabrina and Richie will hopefully get to know and get comfortable with the intern team we will be working with along with the other 5 Americans who have been recruited by JV from other parts of the US as well as the Czech leaders. I'm excited but a little nervous. I need you to be praying for me and pray for all of our English classes.

Last week's camp was amazing and I felt so connected with our Grace team as well as the Czech leaders and the students we were with. It just went so incredibly well and I feel like its just the beginning. There are no outstanding numbers of students who were "saved" but we were really able to show them who Jesus is through how we treated them and talked to them and had fun with them. There are handful of students and leaders who I have become so close to and I cant wait to continue friendships with. We were told that Czechs are hard to get to know and are not very friendly or accepting at first, but I feel like they so quickly opened up to us and it didn't feel that hard." 

Updated Monday, July 22
After a wonderful time at English Camp, the team spent a few days in Cheb staying with the students on "their turf," cementing the relationships and helping build a bridge between the unchurched students and the church youth ministry.  They are now back in Prague to debrief with our hosts Josiah Venture and prepare for their return home on Wednesday.  Thank you for your continued prayers as the Czech team is on the home stretch of a great trip!

Updated Saturday, July 20
E-mail from Wes
Being back in Czech has been an experience filled with joy, and huge encouragement. I've been reminiscing with old friends and building relationships with new friends. I have been blessed with the honor of leading the band here at camp, along with Richie Luna, Greg Henn, Zack Shada, Brandon Davis, as well and a Czech local, Patrik. Also, Alex McHaddad and Cody Ehlen have done a great job offering tech support. I've really enjoyed seeing the response from the students, while we play varied renditions of the camp songs, including heavy metal-esque covers of songs like "blessed be your name" and "lean on me". I, personally, have had some amazing conversations with some of the Czechs that are here at camp for the first time. One student, Kien, has been asking me a ton of questions about faith and belief in God. He says he is so close to believing it, he is just waiting for God to reveal himself to him. Pray that Kien keeps an open mind, and that God will make himself so, so evident to Kien. The English class that I am assisting in, taught by Ashley Le Mieux, has been incredibly fruitful as well. There are two Czech girls that have been quick to share personal hardships with the rest of the class, and that has given us the opportunity to pray for them, and to encourage them in Christ. Continue to pray for drastic impact through individual conversations, the English class conversations, and the nightly talks as well as the music. Thank you for your support and I cannot wait to share what God will do here in the remaining days we have left in Czech.

Updated Thursday, July 18
E-mail from Jake
Wow! This week has been a blast. We've sung songs, hiked mountains, talked deeply, prayed passionately, and formed new friendships with some wonderful people.

By far, my favorite part of camp has been the nightly discussion groups which take place after the evening talks. While preparing for our ministry in Czech, we had planned more classes/small-groups than were necessary so that we would be covered in case more students showed up than we anticipated. I thought for sure that my group would be cut. But, as God would have it, I was placed to lead a group of 6 non-believers - and our discussions have been mind-blowing! Every night, we have talked well beyond 11:00pm - our average group-time has lasted about two hours!

Our host, Viktor, said that in his ten years of doing English camps, he has never seen anything like this. These young men ask some of the most penetrating questions I've ever encountered, and it is clear that they are thinking very deeply about Christianity. They are thirsting to know more about Christ - to have their questions answered - and I'm praying that their thirst for answers will turn into a thirst for a relationship with Him.

At the end of the day, I know that my answers and arguments can only go so far. God must open their hearts. Please pray that our team would powerfully image the love of Christ to these students - that through our love and unity, they would come to understand the love and grace of God, and that maybe - just maybe - they might come to experience God's love and grace themselves.

Updated Wednesday, July 17
E-mail from Zack
Tonight we discussed the story of Jesus and His disciples in the boat during the storm. While Jesus slept, His disciples feared for their lives, unsure if they would make it out alive. They wondered why Jesus was sleeping through their time of trouble. In our discussion groups we asked the students if they thought God helped them through their problems. Like Jesus’ disciples, a few of the students talked about how it seemed that God simply slept through their problems sometimes. One particular boy talked about how he was doubting God’s existence. The boy has been through many recent struggles concerning his university. I could tell that he was searching for some kind of consolation, or at least someone who felt the same. I was given the opportunity to share a personal story about a time in my life when I believed that God had stopped caring about my life, or my happiness. This period lasted for a couple years, but in the end I realized that God’s ultimate plan had been for me to be in that place so that another could come to Christ. And though it was hard, and I was sad, God used my experience for His glory, and that’s what being a believer is really about. In the end, God always has a plan for our lives, and He makes all things work together for our good, even if it’s a good that we don’t understand. After sharing this, the boy thanked me and said that my story about my life had really helped him. I knew it was not me, but God that was working in his heart, but I felt blessed to be able to help the boy see God’s love in that moment. I know God is doing his work in this boy, and in many of these students. Please be praying that these students come to understand God’s love and His will for their lives.  

Updated Tuesday, July 16

E-mail from Rachel
This evening’s discussion was about Christ asking his disciples who people said he was and Peter’s response that he was the Christ, the son of God. I asked the students if they thought that Peter ever doubted that Christ was who he said he was. One of them said that as humans we all doubt so she believed that Peter did as well. I told her that I agreed and then shared with them times in my life that I have doubted. I explained to them that sometimes it is hard to trust God and follow him but that when we do come back to him and seek him out he is always waiting there for us in love. I explained to them that this was the case with Peter and myself and it was the same for all of them as well. I told them that God loves all of us the same.

It was really great watching this discussion progress. At the start of our talk all of the students were lounging back and seemingly passively listening. By the time we finished our circle had gotten closer together and everyone was leaning in and listening. (One of my students is an exception to this rule - she did not pay any attention the whole evening. I have been told that we are lucky she even comes for evening discussions. Please be praying for her throughout this week).

 I look forward to getting to know each of my students on a more personal level and now that I have shared some of my story I am hoping they will be willing to share more of theirs.

Updated Friday, July 12
The training went well, and the team has arrived at the camp to get ready for the arrival of the campers from the Cheb church tomorrow.  Pray for good reunions with some they already know, and for good connections for the first-timers.  As one of them wrote to us, "It's about to get real!"

Updated Thursday, July 11
E-mail from Jonathan

So here I am in the Czech Republic, once again! So far its been really great but also really slow. We got into Prague a day earlier than normal, which was nice to be able to get over jet lag, relax, and explore Prague a little.

I can't tell you how awesome it has been having support from so many people! It is unreal and I can see how God has placed each and every one of us on this team specifically. We've been able to bond really well and I'm excited for camp. We will leave training in a couple days or so and head for Camp where the students will meet us.  

Right now we are in the middle of training, in a town called Tynec, Its about an hour south of Prague. Training is awesome. We come together with over 100 people of different teams from all over the US and Northern Ireland. Its been a great time to ask questions learn a bit of Czech history and preparing to teach English class. The students know that this is a Christian camp, it is put on by a church, but it is presented as an English camp. So we really strive to give the students quality English lessons and training helps to ensure we do that. In addition to that it also gives us some time to reflect on our own relationship with God and to go over the essentials of the gospel. Josiah Venture is great organization and we are blessed to have them host us.  

For those of you who don't know and are interested, Josiah Venture is who we partner with. They connect with local churches all over the Czech Republic and 11 other countries all over Eastern and Central Europe. They base their name off of King Josiah from the Old Testament. Josiah was king of Judea at the age of 8 and he was responsible for bringing the people back to God. So that's what JV wants to do. They want to build up the youth, to be Josiahs everywhere, in their local churches and bring the people back to God. It is said that less than 1% of Czechs are Evangelical Christians. The Czechs have a very tumultuous history of being oppressed and taken advantage of.  In the last 500 or so years, the Czechs have experienced themselves as an independent free nation for only a little over 45 years.   

So all that to say, the youth in the Czech Republic today have never experienced oppression or communism or anything like that and we feel there could be a spiritual revival going on. Right now God is working in The Czech and I'm blessed to be part of something bigger that is happening here. 

Updated Wednesday, July 10
The team is doing great. We had a long but exciting day running around Prague yesterday with some of our hosts. They did a great job at showing us and explaining to us the different landmarks that mean so much to the Czech citizens. Today we head to training and by Friday we will be at camp. Thank you for keeping us in your prayers!

Updated Sunday, July 7
Our team arrived without incident in Prague, were met by our partners with Josiah Venture, and are getting some sleep before starting training tomorrow.  Thanks for your prayers!

Updated Saturday, July 6
The Czech team was prayed off the campus today by a large group of family and friends, and is on the way to Europe for training and the start of the English Camp next week.  Thanks for praying - check back here for updates as they become available!