Sunday, May 29, 2016

Happening Now at Malenovice

One of the most exuberant and dynamic weeks of the year is happening right now at Malenovice.

This year's group of 134 JV summer interns has arrived!

This is an amazing group of college age young people, giving their hearts and souls to a summer of ministry across Central and Eastern Europe. Listening to them worship last night was so moving. They love the Lord!!

Good Good Father from Connie Patty on Vimeo.

We have 92 North Americans and 42 Europeans serving in 13 countries this summer. They'll be involved in promoting camps in schools, building relationships with youth groups in local churches, spending weeks at camp sharing their lives and faith with non-believers, and doing follow-up after camp. They'll pray, serve, give, share, believe, trust and lay down their lives for the sake of the Gospel. Pray for them!

This year's training is led by our new English camp director, Aleisha Stephens. She served as a summer intern back in 2002, and has been here in Czech with her husband and children for the past six years serving on our JV care team. She is passionate about the Lord, about summer camps, and about investing in the lives of our interns. We're so thankful for her!

Dave has the privilege of teaching the interns this year. Over the next five nights, he'll be sharing from God's word on the Father Heart of God, the topic that he wrote his book on (and that will be published soon!). I'm SO excited for the interns to spend this time thinking about their relationship with the Father.

One of the special things for us about intern training is hearing the stories about how interns found their way to JV. Some came as high schoolers with their US church youth group to serve at camp and are now here as college students for the summer. Some heard about it on their college campus during one of our recruitment tours. Some found us online.

But then there are stories like this one.

We've never met Regent. But his dad was one of Dave's college roommates during Bible school, and we served with his parents in Germany before he was even born! He will be serving on our team in Serbia this summer. I love how God weaves all of our stories together for His glory.

Pray for these summer interns, that God will not only use them to bring the Gospel to many, but that He will accomplish His will in their lives as well.

After all, it was a summer internship where God got ahold of my life, and I was never the same!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Saving Lives

Coming in on platform 1 in Prague always touches me.

Sir Nicholas Winton organized the rescue of 669 Czech children in 1939, most of them Jewish, from Czechoslovakia on the eve of the Second World War. They left from this train station, making their way to Britain where he found homes for them, thus saving their lives.

As we made our way through Prague towards our destination, I thought about how we share a likeness of heart with him.

We too long to see Czech young people saved. Spiritually.

As well as Slovak, Polish, Estonian and Croatian young people; not to mention teenagers from all the other countries here in Central and Eastern Europe where we are working to share the Gospel, and raise up a new generation that loves, follows and serves Jesus.

Thankfully Dave was well enough to come to Prague today in order to share that vision at the European Great Commission Collaboration, a group dedicated to encouraging European Christians to fulfill the Great Commission through supporting outreach, discipleship, community and church developments.

Together with some of the finest Christian leaders in Europe, we are praying for a great movement of God across this region, that will bring about spiritual transformation into the lives of people here.

It is such a privilege to be serving in ministry here in Europe at this time! We believe the harvest is white and ready, and are praying that millions of lives will be saved through Jesus Christ in our lifetime.

May the collaboration between ministries and donors have GREAT impact on this region of the world for the sake of the Gospel.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Our Plans, His Plans

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.

The truth of that verse from Proverbs played out for us today.

OUR plan was to go to Prague for a conference. But the Lord had different plans.

When Dave came home from the European Leadership Forum late last night, he was not feeling well. In fact, hadn't been feeling well for two days.

He woke this morning and was so dizzy he could barely walk straight, so went into town to see our doctor. Everything showed up normal (you're always thankful for that!) so he came home and went to bed in hopes that his body would heal with some sleep.

He's doing much better this evening so we're going to try and go to Prague tomorrow for the conference.

We'll see if our plans are his plans tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Fields White with Harvest

It's almost midnight and I just returned from an evening at the European Leadership Forum, an equipping conference for national Christian leaders from all over the continent of Europe where Dave has been this past week.

Held at Hotel Gołębiewski in Wisła, Poland, over 700 leaders from 45 nations gathered here to be resourced, mentored, encouraged and challenged in the task of bringing the Gospel to a "post-Christian" continent.

Tonight, Dave had the unique privilege of being the final speaker for the conference.

I arrived a bit early and noticed something familiar being prepared for the evening.

Those packets on the ground are "Look" studies that Dave wrote a few years ago, a simple tool designed to share the Gospel in what he calls "a longer conversation". Each person who arrived for the session tonight, received a packet.

Dave started his talk by having Maruska, our friend and JV teammate in Slovakia, share her testimony by video (she's sick and wasn't able to attend the conference) of using the study to share Jesus with those around her. As always, her testimony was so winsome, genuine and compelling.

"We missed you tonight Maruska, but it was beautiful to hear by video how you're using "Look"!"

Dave then continued on with his talk entitled "Two Views of Europe".

He shared the discouraging news first, about the state of the church across Europe, how seemingly hard the soil is, and that we don't expect much fruit because of that.

"Let's just be faithful, we can't expect Europeans to respond quickly, we'll just hope and pray, watch and wait to see if anything happens." These are the kinds of things that people often say.

But he went on to share a comment recently made by a Polish pastor at a church planting conference who, after hearing about truly hard soil in India, where people are losing their lives for the Gospel , said, "STOP! We do not have hard soil! We have laziness and excuses."

Dave shared from the text in John 4 about what Jesus sees: that the fields are white with harvest!

He brought our friend Jena up front and interviewed him about Exit Tour, the ministry Jena co-leads in the Czech Republic.

Jena shared how last year Exit Tour went to 23 schools in the Czech Republic to share the Gospel. Four students trusted Christ.

This led the team to reevaluate how they were going about "seeing the harvest". They made some changes in how they shared the Gospel, but even more so, in what they expected. Just since January this year, they've been in another 23 schools. And this time, 290 young people have put their faith in Jesus!

Dave concluded with "The harvest is here. We need to stop talking about it and join God in the harvest. Our view may be that it's hard and difficult. But Jesus' view is that it's time to bring in the harvest!"

There are just three imperatives in the John 4 passage: LOOK, LIFT UP YOUR EYES, SEE THE FIELDS ARE WHITE WITH HARVEST.

May there be a wave across Europe of new followers of Jesus Christ who come to know him through the witness of these leaders who heard this message tonight and put it into practice!!

Afterward, I grabbed a picture with another JV teammate, Denisa, who is one of the teachers for the Youth Ministry track that Dave leads at ELF. She, like so many of our JV family, is living this truth out in Slovakia.

May Jesus help all of us to see what he sees, and may we have our eyes and ears open to the harvest that is right in front of us.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Across the Border

Twenty three years ago, in May 1993, Dave and I walked through this little town in southern Poland contemplating what God's plan was for our family.

Wisła, a popular tourist destination, is a town not far over the border from the Czech Republic. It was one of the places we visited as we searched for where God would have us begin the ministry of Josiah Venture.

In the months following that visit, it became clear that we were to move to the Czech Republic, and that our teammates, Dan and Laura Hash, were to go to Poland. They moved to Ustron, the town next door to Wisła, and began JV's ministry to young people in Poland.

I remember meeting believers and attending a Christian concert in Wisła during that May visit, wondering if this is where we would live and share our lives. Of course that isn't what happened, but I still have a soft place in my heart for this town.

Thankfully I get to visit every now and then, such as today.

My friend Kelly, from the States, is here again with her husband for ELF, (the European Leadership Forum that Dave is at this week too), so we had our traditional afternoon together!

After a leisurely and most enjoyable lunch over in Ustron, we wandered through Wisła for a bit in search of some Polish pottery. Sadly, we didn't find much. But I had to laugh at what I DID see in a shop.

Who still knows about Barney??

I do think this toy is seriously mislabeled though. That is definitely not Baby Bop! I would know; Barney and Baby Bop were important characters in our home oh so long ago. :) How times and toys change through the years!

Yet, this town stays the same in many ways. What a delightful spring day across the border in the pretty town Wisła!