Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Some Fun and Games

During this second week of camp Annette is working with the 8-10 year olds.  They are enjoying Czech-lish, reading Matthew 6 and 7, playing games like Apples to Apples and sight word bingo.  Today they worked on a macramé project and once everyone caught on it was a little difficult to get the children to quit.  

 Later, they had another fun adventure waiting for them.  They were handed a list of clues of things to find in Bystřice Pod Hostýnem with the directive that they also had to return with a picture of the group in front of each object.  To say the least, they enjoyed the outing and so did the teachers.  Although, I think their favorite part was the zmrzlina (ice cream).


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Don’t stop praying now

Have you ever wondered if you were just wasting your time when you were praying?  Has it ever felt like the prayers you were praying didn’t get much higher than your living room ceiling?  Does God really listen to us when we pray?  This is not a new question.  David asked in Psalm 13, “How long O lord?  Will you forget me forever?”
God DOES hear.  Our prayers are really an admission that we can’t do for ourselves what we need – we must have God’s help.  Even though God may delay in his response or answer in some way we didn’t expect or desire, he is tenderly disposed to hear our cries and help us just like a loving mother hears and responds to the cries of her baby. 

Sometimes God’s answer is so startling that it shocks us back into the place he wants us to be – that place of assurance that he has always been listening and has already designed an answer that perfectly fits the situation in every way.

So, don’t stop praying for the Czech people.  We have seen beautiful evidence of God’s work in several hearts these past two weeks.  Some have been slowly awakened to the reality of Jesus’ love; others have begun to seek him.  They all need our prayers.

Monday, July 25, 2011


Years ago, my home church would occasionally host a no-talent night at which anyone who was willing could present a poem, skit, song, or whatever they thought would amuse the audience.  The basic idea was that you didn’t need to have any talent to participate.  Some folks took that literally and so the presentations ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous.  I’m not talking behind anyone’s back here.  I personally scripted and participated in some of the worst offerings that ever appeared in that venue.

I was reminded this morning that Jesus isn’t too concerned about the quality or quantity of our talents; he’s a lot more interested in what we do with them.  Jesus calls me to invest my talents – whatever they are, small or great – in the expansion of his kingdom.  I really don’t have much to offer the Czech people.  I don’t speak their language well, I am a stranger in their culture, I have not lived their history; but God is both willing and able to multiply the tiny offering I bring.  I am very encouraged by that. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Say What??!!!

The claims of Jesus are so counterintuitive, so radical that they often catch me off guard; I’ve been a Christian for almost 40 years.  One of the most amazing things that he ever said was, “Whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”  To help me grasp the meaning of this, I need to put it in simpler terms – maybe something like this: If we believe in Jesus, death cannot kill us.  What?!  That doesn’t even begin to make sense – until we consider Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

To understand the amazing claims of Jesus, we MUST have the help of God’s Spirit.  Apart from his help, such statements of eternal truth just fly over our heads.  Please pray with us that the Spirit will work in the hearts of all those who have come to English camp this week to enable us to hear and believe.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Like the Wind

Jesus once told a curious visitor that the Spirit of God is like the wind.  You can’t understand exactly where the wind is going and you really can’t see it, but it is known by its effects.  The Holy Spirit operates in similarly mysterious ways.  His direction is not always clearly discernable, but you can tell where he is at work by the things that are happening.

For the last three evenings, Dale VanDyke has been speaking to our campers and staff about the truths found in the Beatitudes.  His short messages have had an impact.  Some of our friends have been moved to consider the claims of Christ.  Such stirrings are the work of the Spirit, and we are blessed to be able to see them.

Please pray with us that these good beginnings would continue in the hearts of our friends and bear fruit to eternal life.  Please pray for Dale, too; he has had a big struggle with jet lag.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Big Garden

The Czech Republic is a beautiful country. Many Czechs have gardens, either around their homes, or at their chaty. A chata is a small retreat. Many Czechs own one. It is usually a very small cabin – many times little more than a shack – in which there may not be any electricity or running water. These little houses are especially desired by those who live in crowded city housing. They provide a quiet place and a patch of ground to tend. The gardens around these tiny retreats are exceptionally well tended and full of flowers, vegetables, and berry-bearing plants.

The entire country resembles one of these beautiful gardens, but on a larger scale. We often thank God that we are so privileged to serve in such a beautiful place. Nearby is a view from the front driveway of the Penzion at which English camps are held, and some pictures of Czech gardens. The whole countryside is manicured by loving hands. Pray with us that these gardeners would begin to see the beauty of Him who put us in that first garden long ago.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Camp is HERE!

The summer English camps have been one of the highlights of our year for a long time now.  We so look forward to seeing friends from home and from around our new country.  This is the only time during the year when we will see most of them. 

So, we were thrilled when the team from the US arrived in Zlin on Friday.  Saturday morning we drove from Zlin to the little Penzion where camp is held each year.  With the arrival of each carful of folks, the level of noise from the joyful chatter rose higher and higher. 

On Sunday, the Zlin church joined us for worship in the chapel.  Our speaker this year is Dale VanDyke of Grand Rapids, Michigan.  He spoke Sunday morning from the Beatitudes about how God, in Jesus, blesses losers and rebels.  It seemed to me that God was present and pleased to use Dale’s words.

Please pray with us for our campers, our classes, and our hearts as we seek to serve our friends and as we seek them on Jesus’ behalf.   

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Missing the Air in the South

Alan and Sally
Sometimes you don’t know how much something is worth until it is taken away.  Living in the “Bible Belt” it was relatively easy to find spiritual nurture.  Yes, it still required work to get up early to read our Bibles and pray each morning, but the soul food that we got from Christian radio, our small group meetings, sermons, and Sunday school classes was sort of like air – it was just there all the time.  When we moved to the Czech Republic, the “air” was all gone!  

Yes, we do still go to church on Sundays, but the messages are all in Czech, there is no Sunday school, and no Christian radio.  We have started a small group, and those relationships are growing deeper, but many times the conversation and the prayers are in Czech.  “Don’t you guys already speak Czech?” you might ask.  Yes and no.  Our Czech skills are still at a pre-school level.  We often don’t get much from the prayers or conversations of our dear Czech friends, and very little from the sermons in church.

So, we are really appreciative of the ministry plan that MTW has in place to send PCA pastors to visit mission teams at least once each year.  We are doubly blessed by this plan since the pastor assigned to our team happens to be Alan Carter, the pastor of our home church in Birmingham!  In May, Alan and his wife Sally came for a long weekend and went with our team on a two day mini-retreat to the nearby city of Olomouc.  There are some pictures from the retreat posted nearby.  We enjoyed some English worship, times of extended prayer, and several encouraging messages from Alan.  Alan and Sally also took time to be alone with each of the missionary couples here to nurture and to encourage them.  It was a blessed time.
So, the next time you are bored by your pastor’s sermon, or distracted in Sunday school, or weary of the regularity of your small group meetings, please think about losing all of those things.  They are more valuable than you might imagine.  

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Slavic Epic and Moravský Krumlov

Throughout this year we have heard so much about the Slavic Epic that is located in the small village of Moravský Krumlov. Last year during camp there was a Mucha Exhibit at the zámek in Holešov. Many of the campers went to see it and I had the opportunity to go with them.  The exhibit was comprised almost entirely of Mucha’s posters and advertizing art.  But, while there I saw a video about Alfons Mucha. That is where I first heard of what he considered to be his greatest accomplishment, The Slavic Epic. I was struck by the emotion of the faces he painted in his Epic, that I longed to see his paintings in person.
Interesting symbol on the wall of a building

Moravský Krumlov

In the yard of the Zámek

Entrance to the Exhibit
So, knowing that Erin loves art, and desiring to also see this great work that we have heard so much about, we took her to the town of Moravský Krumlov to see the Slavic Epic. Alfons Mucha painted these masterpieces depicting Slavic history between the years 1910 and 1928.  This is a series of 20 huge –gianormous- paintings portraying the most important events in Slavic history, at least according to Mucha.  He is known throughout most of the world for his Art Nouveau style, seen mostly in posters designed for advertisements.  He gained much of his acclaim and popularity when actress Sarah Bernhardt hired him to design all of her posters.  The posters are unique and beautiful, but simply nothing to compare with the emotion the Slavic Epic draws from the soul.  The faces of the people in Mucha’s Epic display a wealth of human emotion: sorrow, fear, uncertainty, dismay, pain.  One of the greatest emotions that can be seen in the Epic is the powerful force of hope.

        You can see from this picture just how large the paintings really are; the artist is sitting in front.
The Printing of the Bible of Kralice in Ivancice

The Abolition of Serfdom in Russia

I hope that you will take the time to look at some of the others for yourself.   

To read more see:  follow the gallery link to the pictures, the link is at the end of the page on the Slavic Epic.