Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Last First

Long ago, in what feels like a very far away land, these three had a first day of school here in Czech.


If I remember correctly, it was Caleb's first day of first grade. Tyler would have been heading into fourth grade, and Claire was finishing up školka (kindergarten) that year.

Somehow, a lot of time has passed and now we're at this point: Claire's last 'first day of school', her last semester of college!


Tyler and Caleb are finished with school. Well sort of! Tyler is busy writing his master's thesis and will graduate in December. But he's not on campus so doesn't have a 'first day of school' picture to send me!

So, Claire's picture represents the end of an era for our family. We and they DID IT!!

They each completed thirteen years of Czech school (more if you count školka!) and now they've almost all finished college and even graduate school.

How thankful I am for the ways they've grown and developed, for the richness of education that they've had, and for how they're living their lives today for the Lord.

That's the best part!

Monday, August 22, 2016

A Happy Ending: Answered Prayer

Do you believe in the power of prayer? I would definitely tell you that I do.

But I'm also still learning, and have many questions about it.

What are the conditions to God answering prayer? Why pray if he already knows what will happen? Are there some prayers that are considered selfish? If he doesn't answer yes, did I pray wrong? Why does he answer some of my prayers and not others? How long should I keep on praying for something? Is anything too small to pray for?

Oh yes, these and so many more are the questions that I ask.

And yet, I still pray. Because God's Word tells me to...over and over again. Even if I'm not sure I'm praying the right thing, I go ahead and pray, in hopes that when he answers, I'll get to give him glory and honor for it.

That is my utmost desire today.


I sure didn't expect to be standing in this train station today.

Oh I'd prayed that I would! Well, not for this particular spot, but I prayed with faith for days and days that God would hear my prayers for something very specific. I didn't know if he would choose to answer, so I kept on praying, even when the situation looked pretty bleak.

But now I'm here today to tell you that he graciously and mercifully answered!


Sam, the daughter of JV missionaries who live here in Czech, arrived to visit her parents today:

CARRYING MY LAPTOP THAT I LOST A FEW WEEKS AGO!!

In exchange, I'm holding a bag of gluten free goodies to trade her for my computer! Yes, I'm happy to generously reward her for going to pick it up from Claire in Chicago, and for bringing it in her carry-on so it would stay safe. THANK YOU SAM!

The rental agency wrote a personal letter to me last week saying that the next renters of the car that I'd left the computer in, found it, kept it the whole week they had the car, and then turned it in when they brought the car back.

PRAISE GOD!!! I give him the glory and honor for sending honest people to rent the car after me! I had prayed so specifically that he would keep his eye on it for me, and bring it back to me somehow.

That was a hard prayer to pray when I knew that it was my mistake that brought about this situation. Oh praise God for his grace! Giving me what I don't deserve. How many, many times he has done that. I am so grateful for his kind and loving care for me.

I wish all my prayers had such a happy ending. I always tell him that I'd give him all the praise for his answers! But I know he knows better than me what the best answers are.

So for the many, many prayers still on my heart, I'll keep praying and hoping for his best answers, the happy endings of his choosing.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Suchdol and the Moravian Missionary Movement

On a wet and cold summer Sunday afternoon, Dave and I headed out for a little trip.


If you literally translate the name of the town we were visiting, it would be "Dry Valley". It was anything but that today!


This is the museum of the Moravian Brothers in Suchdol nad Odrou. We're here today on a research trip in preparation for our JV fall conference.


In September, we'll have 350 people at our fall conference, to study movements of God that changed the world.

The story of the Moravian Brothers is such a movement. And in fact, we believe it's part of the reason why we're here.

This movement started in Moravia, the very area where we live.


This man, Daniel, has given his life to documenting and displaying the story here in Suchdol of the Moravian Brothers, to share what they did to bring the Gospel to the world.

The story is nothing short of amazing! I wish every one of you could go through this museum and hear the story.

Dave will be recording it in English so that it's downloadable for our conference when we take a tour this fall around Moravia to some of the significant sights of this movement, such as the Jesus Church in Těšín.


In order to flee religious persecution, the Moravians, led by Christian David (who came from the town of Ženklava, just a half hour from where we live), fled to Herrnhut, Germany in 1722.

In the village of Suchdol, 250 of its 700 inhabitants were among those who left.

Their names, ages, occupations, etc are all documented here!

After walking 350 kilometers, an eleven day journey, they arrived in Herrnhut where they were taken in by Count Zinzendorf, a man of deep spiritual conviction.


It was in Herrnhut in August 1727, that during a baptism and communion service, the Spirit moved among the people who had taken refuge there.

As is written in an article HERE, differences dissolved, all embraced one another in forgiveness and a spirit of love, and Christ became central to their thinking. They established a twenty-four hour around-the-clock prayer vigil which lasted one hundred years. The fervent prayers resulted in the sending out of missionaries to many lands--the first Protestant missions outside Europe and North America.


The far reaching places they went to is simply staggering. Greenland, West Indies, Africa, the Americas...to the Indians, to the Eskimos, to those in the new colonies of what would become the United States, and more.

Within twenty five years, the Moravians had sent out over 100 missionaries, more missionaries than the Protestant church had sent out in total over the previous two hundred years. And over the next 150 years, they sent over 2000 missionaries to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to the world.


There is SO much more to this story, so many twists and turns, triumphs and griefs (as you can imagine, many died serving the Lord).

But the good news is that they brought the Gospel to millions, and we are continuing with their legacy as that is the hope and vision of our ministry with Josiah Venture.

The seeds they planted right here in this region hundreds of years ago are still in the soil.

We are some of their fruits of their labors!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Festival United 2016

I arrived in Vsetín this morning, the city where Dave has been staying since Tuesday.


Groups of people were already making their way towards the main square, in anticipation of the morning program at Festival United.

Couldn't help but notice this guy's t-shirt...a JV English camp shirt from many years ago!

In its sixth year, Festival United's vision is to reach the young generation for Christ here in the Czech Republic, through a multi-genre festival. This includes bands, seminars, workshops, places to hang out, counseling centers, booths, activities, and a main program in the morning and evening.

For the past five years that main program has taken place in the cultural house downtown. But with over 3500 young people attending last year, and more expected this year, they could no longer fit in that space.

After discussions with the mayor of Vsetín, they were allowed to bring those sessions outside into the main town square.


A stage had to be prepared and set up. And all the logistical aspects had to be thought through. I'm sure it was months and months of work to get ready for this week!


Slowly the square began to fill with people this morning: some on bleachers that were set up, others on chairs, but most of them on the ground throughout the square.


While it's not a perfect picture, at least my iPhone has the "pano" option so you can get a small feel of what it was like!


A wonderful music group opened the morning session with worship. Although most of you won't understand the words, you can go HERE for a video clip of a song from the Adam Bubík band. I really enjoyed them!


Next up: Dave!


I wrote a friend this evening and told her that in twenty three years of living here in Czech and listening to Dave speak to people, I've never heard him more powerful than today.


And by the hush and attentiveness of the crowd, it seemed like they were listening.


Speaking from Philippians, chapter 3, he talked about what it means to know Jesus, and power of his resurrection.


In true Dave style, he made it real by sharing a story of a friend of ours who has walked through much pain and suffering, to the point where she wanted to die.

"Smrt" is the Czech word for death

Dave put on a heavy backpack, filled with big rocks, and talked about her sufferings as being like those rocks: she carried them around with her every day.


"Death is your worst enemy, but your best friend is the death of Jesus," Dave said.

He talked about how we met with her and helped her take those pains, sufferings, hurts, anger and lies out of the backpack and in prayer, give them to Jesus.


"Jesus didn't come to die for his own sin, pain and suffering, but for yours," Dave shared.

"He died and took all of that to the grave, and on to resurrection life...for you. And you can know that power, the power of his resurrection."


Dave had asked our friend if she had any words for these young people at Festival United, and he then read from her letter:

"Only Jesus heals, only he makes you whole…you don't have to be the sacrifice...he was! We are called to place our burdens on him and he TAKES them. You have to let him do that…you have to put it all on Jesus. PUT IT ALL ON JESUS so that you can live in freedom with him!"

When Dave came to the end, he prayed for each person there - that they would place it all on Jesus and let him take it to the grave and out the other side into resurrection life.


You could've heard a pin drop in that square.


I'm simply not doing justice to the significance of the moment. All I can say is that it was very, very powerful, and I prayed that for many who were there, the truth would soak in and they would know Jesus in a very different and powerful way as they release their burdens, cares, sufferings and pains to him. And as they receive his power to conquer and be victorious over them.


How good it was afterward to see Dave and give him feedback (all good!) about how it went. I'm so proud of him! And in case you don't know, like always, he did that talk in the Czech language.


He told me that they already know of hundreds who have put their faith in Jesus at this festival. I'm praying that there will be even more by the end.

One of the volunteers (there are 600 in total to make this event happen) told the leader of the entire festival, "I am an atheist. Well, at least I was!"

"Change the heart of that man, and thousands like him Lord Jesus!!!"

Friday, August 19, 2016

Selah

One of the treasures God has blessed our Josiah Venture family with is a resting place called "Selah", which means 'pause' in Hebrew.


Perched on the side of a mountain that faces Lysá hora, (the mountain that this blog is named after as I can see it when I look out my office window at our house!), it is a beautiful log home built for our JV missionaries to come to for rest, refreshment and renewal.


With a beautiful view from every direction, God has a special way of meeting each of us when we're up there.


This week my friend, Maruška, who serves on our JV Slovakia team, is up here with her husband for that very reason: to meet with God and let Him nourish and refresh her.

It was a privilege to be invited up to meet with her too!


We're both busy ladies in the worlds we live in. But when you're up at Selah, the urgent tasks just fade away and it's as if there is nothing more important than just sitting on those rocking chairs, enjoying the presence of each other and the Lord.


And you know what? There ISN'T anything more important than taking those "Selah" moments for reflection and restoration.

I know my soul was restored there today, spending time with my friend.

"Thank you for inviting me dear Maruška!"