Sunday, September 30, 2018

JV Ukraine Team Day

This morning the JV Ukraine team planned a Sunday service for the JV board members and team members here for this visit. Meeting together in a conference room at the hotel we're staying at, Ben welcomed us giving us a preview of what this day would hold. 

We experienced worship in both Ukrainian and English with an American and two Ukrainians leading us.

Testimonies were given by various Ukranian team members, like Olena. She came to Christ through a JV English camp, and after many years of going to camp and serving at them, she has joined the JV team in Ukraine to serve on their camps team!

Like all of us, she must raise support for this position so is in the process of that.

Truly, if God moves in your heart to support a national, think about one of these Ukrainians who are laying their lives and own plans down to serve Him. I'm so tendered by these dear ones so full of bold faith. Click HERE to see the Ukraine team, and ask the Lord if He might have you support one of the nationals!

There are not only Americans and Ukrainians serving on this team, but Czechs as well! One of them is Bara, from Prague. She is serving as an extended intern and praying about whether or not the Lord is calling her to serve full time with this team. Everyone told me how effective she is, and that they're hoping she'll stay!

During the break as I looked out the window I thought how many people there are in just this city alone, not to mention across Ukraine, who don't know the Good News of Jesus. But I'm SO thankful for this team who are working diligently to bring salt and light here!

We spent time in groups, praying for the country, the city, the ministries that are happening, and for this team of godly people who long to see revival happen here.

After lunch downtown Lviv, we were divided up into groups and sent out with two members of the Ukraine team, to visit places around the city that would give us a window into the types of ministries they're doing to reach young people.

Our first stop was School #3 (all schools are identified by numbers here).

Here the Exit Tour team shared with us about their ministry into schools, which have opened their doors wide for them to come into. They are able to go in for a full day, giving a concert by a Christian rock band, teaching prevention lectures, building relationships, playing games and most importantly, bringing the Gospel into these settings.

While they can't publicly share it on school property, they invite all students to activities after school at nearby churches where they can get to know the Exit team and church members, hear the Gospel and be given a chance to respond. There has been incredible fruit from this ministry, which we got to hear about from some students who have been impacted by it!

This is a demanding ministry that requires a lot of preparation ahead of time (training the churches, securing schools, etc), and a lot of early mornings, late nights and intense focused time with students during the week of Exit Tour. I am so proud of this team who gives their all for the sake of the bringing the Gospel to students!

Since it was such a beautiful fall day here in Lviv, we walked to most of our ministry locations throughout the day, passing beautiful sites such as this!

We arrived next at a gym where a floorball practice was going on.

Floorball is a relatively new sport in Ukraine. Something similar to hockey, you use sticks and a wiffle ball to play hockey on a gym floor.

This is the sport that the Edge Sports guys have brought here, developing teams and leagues for boys and young men to be involved in.

They practice and compete like any sports league, but always have a spiritual element at those events that is Gospel centered. They are seeing young men put their faith in Christ as a result of this ministry.

We continued our walk through Lviv, heading to yet another ministry that the team is involved in.

For our next location we headed directly into Old Town Lviv, which is quite beautiful, and culturally rich!

In an upstairs room above the cobblestone streets, we found the Fusion music ministry in motion!

They gave us a mini Fusion rehearsal, teaching us warm-ups, a song and the motions!

There are numerous Fusion choirs across Ukraine that have been planted by the team from Lviv. It's an exciting ministry, one that is drawing students who love music and the arts.

It was fun meeting Liza who asked me, "Are you Claire's mom?"! I always love it when that happens!

Liza met Claire when she was in Lviv to see the JV Kids who live there!

Our fourth stop was at a church where several members of the JV Ukraine team shared with us about the spiritual climate of the city and country.

And finally we ended at City Hall downtown Lviv to pray for a list of things that had been prepared by Juliana, another member of the team.

It was such a rich day, sharing it with these ladies, learning about all that God's doing in Lviv and across the country.

Our day ended with dinner all together at the city hall, in a lovely restaurant there.

So enjoyed our evening with Canada board chairman, Jay, and his lovely wife, Mandy.

As we walked back to our hotel, through the old city, we reflected on the day and all that God is doing here through this team. Our hearts are so encouraged by their bold faith! I pray that the fruit of these ministries will be multiplied many times this coming year as they continue to bring the Gospel to a place much in need of it.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Hello Lviv

This morning the JV board members and those of us traveling with them, gathered on Platform One in Krakow to begin our trek to Lviv, Ukraine today.

Our dear Denny, who serves with us in the JV home office in Frydlant, made all the arrangements for this trip, which was no small feat!

Hello dear sister in law Kristi, photo bombing us!

I found out she'd had to make a special trip to Krakow a few weeks ago to buy the train tickets for all of us, along with arranging dozens of other things to make this happen. We love her and are so thankful for her gifts of helps that serves us!

Once on the train, we settled into our compartments for hours of train travel to the border between Poland and Ukraine.

I happily landed in the compartment with the JV UK board!

As the train whizzed through the Polish countryside, I heard many wonderful stories from these godly people.

JV UK is our newest sending country, which means that missionaries can be sent from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales as we now have a team that leads and does administration, like our offices do in the US and Canada.

As we rode together for hours, they told me that trains in England used to be like this (with compartments) and that for them it was very nostalgic to travel this way. Their trains are set up more like buses and don't feel as community oriented.

Later in the afternoon we arrived into Przemyśl, Poland where we got off the train and had a few hours to wait for our next one. Some of us took off exploring to see this pretty Polish city near the Ukrainian border.

It could hardly have been a prettier fall afternoon here!

We made our way back to the train station and got into line to board our next train into Ukraine.

All went smoothly as we crossed the border, and made our way to Lviv.

Maybe others knew there would be a crowd waiting for us, but I didn't know! I was so pleasantly surprised by the JV Ukraine team, probably around 15 of them, who were there at the train station to greet us!

They put us in vans and on public transportation, taking us to our hotel for the night. From there, we walked to a restaurant for dinner, and had a delightful time with their various team members who sat at tables with us.

Tomorrow we'll have a full day, touring various parts of the city and seeing their ministries here. I'm so looking forward to that!

Good Night Lviv!

Friday, September 28, 2018

Goodbyes and Hellos

When JV Fall conference ended this afternoon, I came home to get ready for a trip with our JV  members who have been here for the conference.

Happily, I came home to find my friend Amy here with Charlie - she is also his grandma!

She and her husband Mark, Charlie's other grandpa, stopped by to say goodbye to Caleb, Haley and Charlie before heading home to Slovakia where they live and serve with JV.

I'm so glad I was here to get their picture all together!

Sadly I had to say goodbye to them too, as well as Tyler, Lara and their boys.

I quickly packed my bags and headed in the car to Poland.

Meanwhile, Dave was in a bus going with all of our JV board members to visit H20, our other JV facility in Poland. And then they continued on to Krakow where we all met up this evening.

We are spending the night here before getting on a train tomorrow to head to Ukraine to visit our team there and see the ministry.

We had a fantastic dinner with everyone, including some of our JV executive team who are on this trip as well.

Afterward we walked into the old city of Krakow to let them enjoy its beauty.

And then headed back to our hotel so we can get a good night's sleep before a long day of travel tomorrow.

Good night Krakow!

PS. The reason I drove our car is that Dave is not returning from Ukraine at the same time as me, so needed a way to get home once he returns to Krakow! We'll leave it here in Krakow for these days.

Beautiful Feet

For our final session of JV Fall Conference this year, we met back in the tent at Malenovice this morning. 

After a hearty round of thank you's to all those who served to make this conference happen (over 100 people out of the 400 attending had some level of responsibility!), and last words from Rob Trenckmann who serves as the director of Fall conference, one final skit was presented.

This year a group of Slovaks from our JV team in Slovakia, prepared absolutely brilliant skits to illustrate various points about our theme: Good News: Hope Filled Answers for the iGeneration.

And this morning's was the best of all.

I can't do a five or six minute skit justice by explaining it, because every word counted and was delivered flawlessly. But the essence was that these two were watching movies of their life spent on earth, from heaven. One had lived a full meaningful life, making a difference by spreading the Good News of the Gospel. The other one had lived a life for herself.

While they were both in heaven at the end of their lives, the one who'd lived for herself realized the sadness of having not invested into God's work, and that there is no going back and doing it over once your life is done.

I don't know about anyone else, but I was crying - not just a few tears in my eyes, but really crying - by the end. Everything in my heart was crying out, "Let me live the kind of life that makes a difference for God's glory - one that will be so meaningful, rich and fun to look back on when I'm in heaven someday, not sad because it wasn't lived for Him and His purposes".

Then Dave came to the front for his final message.

When he started the morning he looked like the above picture. But during the prayer just before he came up, he changed and came up like this!

Why? Because he wanted to talk about being people who bring the Good News.

"As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"

He had everyone write down names of those they wanted to have "Good News" conversations with, and ended by saying, "Let's make this a year of beautiful feet!"

We ended in one final chorus, singing an old worship song from Isaiah 52:7, "Our God Reigns" - because that is the passage that talks about being people with feet who bring GOOD NEWS!!

May it be so! May this coming year be filled with many more Good News conversations so that many will come to know our great God, who loves them and has come to save.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Rehearsal with Friends

It's been years since I've sung in a choir. But that's about to change!

Korban Miller serves on our JV Poland team leading Fusion music ministry there. He's a gifted musician, with an unusual ability to bring much glory to the Lord while using his gifts with outstanding excellence.

For the past few years he's put together a worship band for our fall conferences, selecting music, arranging it and leading in a most winsome and humble way.

This year he did the same, but added in a choir and horn section to bring something special for the 25th anniversary celebration!

This summer he sent all of us the arrangements on sheet music, along with recordings he'd made, singing every part for each song so that we'd be able to learn quicker.

He asked us all to know our music and memorize it before coming to conference since we'd only have one rehearsal together before the celebration.

This afternoon, we gathered together at the cultural house in Frydlant for that rehearsal. What an amazing couple of hours, pulling it all together with so many talented people, using their gifts to bring joy to the Lord and blessing to our JV family.

It was truly one of the highlights of conference to sing and make music with everyone, especially the soprano section! 😉

Just minutes before the evening program began, we gathered behind the curtains on stage for prayer and last instructions on how the night would go.

Korban's wife, Tanya, and his baby daughter and 4 other children got to be here this evening!

And then it was 3 - 2 - 1...SHOWTIME!

More on the 25th JV Anniversary in another post HERE!