Monday, September 29, 2014

Your Smile for the Day

In just a couple of days our son, Caleb, and daughter-in-law, Haley, will celebrate four months of being happily married.

Thanks for the photo Claire!

On one hand it feels like we were just in Colorado preparing for their very special day. And on the other hand, it feels like they've been married for years.

In fact, it's been so long that I'd completely forgotten about one last detail from their wedding celebration that was yet to come.

It arrived on my Facebook page this morning.

And totally delighted me!

Caleb's Bachelor Party - A Sky Full of Stars from Jacob Hash on Vimeo.

Caleb's friend from childhood, Jacob Hash (who grew up as a JV kid in Poland and whose parents started JV with us), produced this incredibly happy, fun, memorable, "make you smile" music video with all his groomsmen and ushers during Caleb's bachelor party and on the day of his wedding.

What a joy to see finally it this morning! I couldn't stop smiling as I watched it.

For years Caleb and his friends, Jacob and Noah, made music videos that made us laugh and enjoy the fun they shared together. Oh how we loved watching those boys have a great time making those videos!

But this one touched me in a completely different way.

I am so grateful for the kinds of friends (and brother!) that Caleb has, and for the wife that inspired this video. What a treasure he has in all of those people.

Hope it makes you smile too!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

JV Board Members and the Wives!

It's been our privilege to have the JV board members and their wives here with us for fall conference this past week.

They wisely give direction, oversight and leadership to Josiah Venture.

But more importantly, they pray for and love our missionaries in a multitude of ways. We are deeply thankful for all of them!

While the men had their board meeting at H20 in Poland, the wives took a bus ride to Krakow for lunch and a little sightseeing yesterday afternoon.

And when I say a little, I really mean it!

The bus driver took the wrong road there and what should've been an hour and a half trip turned out to be 3 hours. We had just enough time for lunch and a quick 10 minute stop in a Polish pottery store before getting back on the bus.

Oh well! We loved spending time with each other for the day, even if most of it was spent on a bus!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Grandmas Together

No, this isn't an announcement that any of my kids are having babies!

This is about being spiritual grandmas to this dear young man.

Tomas trusted Christ while on a trip to Ukraine with Caleb when they were students at BMA (the school our kids attended here in Frydlant). He was impacted and influenced in his new faith during the rest of his years at BMA by Noah and Caleb, Amy's and my son.

Patty, on the right, is a long time friend of mine from California whose husband serves on the JV board. How does she fit into this picture?

This summer her son led a JV intern team here in Czech, and Tomas spent the summer with him on his team. Her son, Jonny, has had great spiritual impact on him as well!

Today, Tomas has an infectious love for Jesus that permeates his life in every aspect. He has a great heart for the Lord, and desires to be used by Him for His glory. He's a joy to be with!

So what are we all doing together?

Tomas came down from Denmark where he is studying in his first year of college to be at our JV conference this week! Of course Amy and I were there, but Patty is as well because all the board members and their wives are here for the 20th anniversary celebration!

When I realized that all three of us had sons who were part of Tomas' spiritual growth, I wanted to get a picture of us with him since our sons' discipleship and involvement in his life makes us spiritual grandmas to him!

"We love you Tomas and pray for the presence of Jesus to continue to radiate out from you even more than it already does! Love MamaPatty"

Friday, September 26, 2014

ReJesus 2014: I'll Never Be the Same

Last night was truly one of the greatest nights.


We had an awesome party in the tent, celebrating Josiah Venture's twentieth anniversary!!

It was big, beautiful, and God-honoring from start to finish. I just know the Father was smiling and so delighted with His children as we gave Him praise and honor for what He's done here over the past twenty years.

Dave started off by sharing the beginning of the JV story. How God called us to this region of the world to fulfill the vision given to him:

A movement of God among the youth of Central and Eastern Europe, that finds its home in the local church and transforms society.

With baskets of shiny apples in front of him, he shared how he hoped the night would be a taste of the fruit God has given us the privilege to share in sowing, planting, watering, toiling for, and harvesting as we have given ourselves to that vision.

Then he began to call people to the front to acknowledge their part in the process of fulfilling it.

I had no idea that I, along with Dan and Laura Hash, would be the first ones to be called up front. But OH!!! How amazing to stand there as the original four who first moved into Czech and Poland in November 1993, and look out over the crowd of almost 300 who are now on staff with us!

After each of us was given a chance to say a word of encouragement to the team, Dave handed us a bright, shiny apple with the JV Prayer bracelet wrapped around, as well as a card made JUST THAT DAY (by our amazing new Communications Team!), with the picture taken the day before and signed by him as a thank you to us.

From that point on, the tears flowed freely from my eyes for the rest of the evening! I sat full of emotion and gratefulness to the Lord for the PRIVILEGE of serving Him in this part of the world, alongside such an amazing team.

In my word of encouragement I shared about how I didn't want to say yes when Dave first shared God's vision with me. The reason was fear that we would go alone.

Oh how short-sighted I was! We have NEVER been alone!

Of course the Lord was always with us and that is no small thing! But there have been untold numbers of people who have stood with us, and hundreds of staff (and thousands if you count our short term summer teams and interns) who have come since the beginning to join us in the vision.

There are people like our dear friends the Pierre's, who came all the way from Florida to celebrate with us last night! They have prayed, given, believed God and stood with us from the beginning.

Then there are our four original JV board members, all of whom are still serving on the board! What an amazing group of godly, faithful and faith-filled men!

As are the two other board members who serve us today.

The Cedarstone leadership team, whose staff does all our administrative back office work, came too! They traveled all the way from Chicago to be there last night, arriving just a few hours before the festivities began!

I can't say enough about how much we appreciate these men and their team. They allow Dave and I to be on the field, rather than running a home office back in the States.

After those introductions Dave began to tell the timeline of JV's development, and some of the miraculous stories along the way.

Like the purchase of a training facility in Poland, known as H20 today.

He brought to the front dear Lucka Zagorova, the first JV missionary to be sent from her country (the Czech Republic) to another country (Slovenia). He shared how he hopes there will be many more of these national missionaries to be raised up from within and sent to other countries.

He brought up the country leaders of the 13 countries we are currently serving in, showing on the timeline the year that each country began their ministry, standing them from oldest to newest.

The most recent country to be staffed by JV missionaries is Bulgaria, with Gabe serving as the country leader. His word of encouragement was one of my favorites:

"I dream of the day when I'm in the middle of this group, and there are another 13 countries on the other side of me on this platform."

What a vision for the future! We hope and pray for that too.

Among others, Dave thanked Terry, the founder and leader of our Fusion ministry that is making disciples who make disciples through our evangelistic gospel choirs in five different countries with JV staff.

Throughout the evening we worshipped numerous times, singing and giving praise to God for the miracles He has done these twenty years. I was literally hoarse from singing so loud. It was awesome to praise Him with all our hearts.

As the celebration came to a close, Dave had us pray in groups for each other, for our countries, for the region, and for the lost who need to hear about Jesus.

As we finished singing, "I'll never be the same, forever I am changed" I thought to myself: that's what it's all about. It's not about programs, systems, theories or principles.

It's about Jesus changing lives, one at a time, transforming each of us into His image.

With tears streaming down my face as we sang, I begged Him for more lives to be changed in this region of the world, by the saving power of Jesus Christ.

It was one of those nights that you just don't want to end. You want to go on praising God forever.

That's what we have to look forward to in heaven!

This was just a taste of that. Oh what a glorious and happy day it will be when we stand before the throne and worship Him FOREVER!!

With no instructions except to walk on the path up to the hotel, Dave asked everyone to quickly go outside.

Little did they know there was a surprise waiting for them!

I had barely stepped outside of the tent when the gigantic display of fireworks was set off!

All 300 of us stood outside in the cool, crisp, fall night air, enjoying an amazing show to finish off our night of celebration.

It was a night to remember as we celebrated and gave glory to God for the great things HE has done!

Happy Anniversary Josiah Venture Family!!!!

Onward to another 20 years of serving the Lord together!!!!

The first four JV missionaries, then and now (thanks Gwynne for the photo!)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

ReJesus 2014: The JV Team

My heart is overflowing tonight with gratefulness to the Lord for this group of truly extraordinary people!

They labor in 13 different countries, 14 if you count the States! Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia,  and Ukraine.

These are the laborers in the harvest, our JV teammates, board members and dear partners who labor with us to bring the Gospel to young people in Central and Eastern Europe.

And who you don't see in this picture are the wives, husbands and children who stand behind these people. There would be almost as many of them as in the picture!

It is the greatest privilege to serve the Lord together with ALL these very precious people, and I could not be more proud of who they are and how they sacrificially live their lives for the sake of Christ.

Thank you JV Family for who you are and your commitment to live out the Gospel throughout this region!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

ReJesus 2014: Pavel's Story

I am guest posting on our Josiah Venture blog today so come on over and take a look!

Click HERE to read how the five phases of Jesus' ministry were played out in the life of our friend, Pavel.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

#JVFall14 - How Did Jesus Do Ministry?

We got off to a start from a new perspective this morning at our JV fall conference.


Rob Trenckmann, our country leader from Hungary, is in charge of this year's conference and has truly put in countless hours of work to oversee the theme, talks, content and flow of the week.

But Rob suffers from something called "Multiple Chemical Sensitivities" (incredibly explained on his blog HERE) which precludes him from being in the tent for most of the conference...that he's in charge of.

So we kept our coats on, turned the diesel generated heat off this morning, turned our chairs around and thus gained a new perspective this morning as Rob shared from the back of tent in our opening session.

It was a powerful opening session as he talked about two perspectives of ministry that people often lean towards: the factory or the forest method. You'll have to listen to his awesome talk when it's online to hear what the third, better, option is.

(Hint: it's all about 'organic matter'!)

After his session we packed into the lodge and Malenka to warm up with coffee and snacks.

Then came back into the tent for Dave's first session of the conference. Oh how happy he is to be back with the JV team!

There are some unsung heroes of the week who sacrifice their time and talents while Dave and others are speaking: these are the translators.

Imagine going to a conference that's in your second or third language! Over half of our JV team are nationals from the countries we serve in. Most of them speak English, but to varying degrees. So some countries bring translators to help out those who are not as advanced.

They translate simultaneously which is NO easy task as the talks are flying by!!

Two hundred and eighty people can seem pretty daunting when you walk into the tent - more like a crowd than a family.

For that reason every person is in the same small group for the whole week, getting a chance to process and talk about what they're learning. Dave broke up them up into their groups this morning and actually had them sit together for his whole session so they could discuss at different points along the way.

Suddenly the room got a lot smaller and more intimate!

Dave did a great job of making it more like a conversation or discussion as he taught, which hopefully made it easier to talk in small groups as well.

Dave likes to teach creatively and developmentally so does a lot of different things to make his talk "sticky", as he says. One of the things he did this morning was to bring Pavel, who serves on the iTeam, to the front to tell his story of coming to Jesus, and what happened after that.

He used five different chairs to sit Pavel in as he explained the concept of Jesus' theory of ministry: Come and See, Repent and Believe, Follow Me, Follow Me and Fish for Men, and I am Sending You.

This is the basis from which he is teaching this week on how Jesus did ministry.

While he and others are teaching, so many are behind the scenes doing work to make it all happen!

Kevin, Katka and Daniel are just three of those people who are tirelessly working all week to take care of details that no one else knows about!

So thankful for these people, and others on our iTeam, who are cheerfully and sacrificially making this week happen.

And so very thankful for what God is stirring here this week in the hearts of our JV team!

Don't forget to check out our FB page, as well as Twitter and Instagram to follow along as we get back to Jesus this week here at #JVFall14.

Monday, September 22, 2014

ReJesus 2014: JV Fall Conference 2014

Literally hundreds of JV staff gathered at Malenovice today to begin our fall conference.

It's like a big family reunion to see everyone you know, and be introduced to new family members...who come from thirteen different countries!

The bell made it into place just in time to welcome everyone down at the village.

Last minute work was going on in the tent to get things ready for the evening program.

I told these guys that they're the heroes of the conference. They've got all the technical things to care about, and let me just say...there are a lot of those details to deal with! Way to go guys!!

They make it possible for the rest of us to greet and enjoy the first conversations of the conference.

Of course we had a little "weather" this afternoon. Nothing like a good storm!

This white stuff: that's hail!
But all was clear as we headed into the tent to get started!

With Mart, our Estonian country leader, as MC, we got "ReJesus" off to a great start!

It's hard to get a full picture of what it's like in the tent with 282 people...but for sure I can say it's super exciting and full of anticipation for what's ahead.

A band from Latvia led us in such meaningful worship tonight. Since English is the common language for all of the thirteen countries represented, that's the language we sing in.

And finally, my brother-in-law Josh, who serves in Slovenia, got us started with the first session. He asked the question, "Why Re-Jesus? Why are we going back to Jesus?"

He gave such a compelling talk on it! When we get all the talks uploaded, I'll give you links if you want to listen.

We're also working our social media for this conference so if you want to follow us and get live updates you can find JV on Instagram, Twitter and the JV blog! There were some great Twitters tonight with quotes from his talk if you want to take a look!

Oh what a good week is ahead of us!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Something New at Malenovice

It's starting to fill up at Malenovice, our training center here in the Czech Republic.

The JV Council (13 different country leaders and the leadership team) as well as the Camp Team are up there this week-end for meetings before Fall Conference starts on Monday.

And what a gorgeous day they had! It couldn't have been a prettier fall day.

But there's one place at the hotel that's quiet this week-end.

That's our brand new children's play area that was just installed last week.

Constructed and installed by a graduate of our internship program here in Czech, it looks beautiful up next to the hotel.

While it won't get a lot of use this week since children don't attend our fall conference, it's sure to be enjoyed at other times when kids are at the hotel.

Which was looking particularly enchanting late this afternoon!