Saturday, December 15, 2012

It's Great to be Home for Christmas

We have been in the United States for one month today.  In that short space, we have enjoyed Thanksgiving with our family, visited with Christ Community Church in Frisco, Texas, reported to Mt. Hebron Baptist in Leeds, Alabama, and made a trip to the MTW home office in Atlanta.  We really enjoyed seeing our friends at each of these stops, and all along the way.  Worshipping God in English has been especially delightful for us.
We are now happily settled into our "semi-permanent" home in Birmingham for the duration of our time in the US.  Dear friends have provided generously for us at every turn. 

Christ has blessed us with his presence in many ways.  As we turn to thoughts of his incarnation, we are humbled to think of his truly amazing cross cultural transition in coming to earth - into the depths of our evil world - and embracing our sorrows, even dying for them.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands

We are so thankful and excited that we finally have Czech language copies of Paul David Tripp's book Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands!  We are so grateful to all of you who helped make this project possible.  We were able to use the book in our recent Marriage and Family Conference.  Each family that participated in the conference took home a copy of the book.

Please pray that the Lord will make this a very useful and powerful tool in the Czech Republic, and that all of the copies we printed will soon be sold.  We believe it has great potential.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

2012 Family and Marriage Conference

Winter winds blew some rain and snow our way this past weekend, but they didn’t dampen the spirits of our friends who attended the conference.  It seemed to us that many went away encouraged that the Bible has very powerful and practical solutions to the problems we all face in our human relationships.

Our guest speakers, Jeff and Beth Stull, taught a group of about 20 adults using principles from Paul David Tripp’s book Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands.  Miriam Grady helped us teach the children and prepared crafts and games for them; in her service to the children, she allowed the parents stay focused on the conference sessions.

The Lord definitely heard your prayers and came to help us.  Our heartfelt thanks to all of you who prayed for this event!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Výlov = Lots of fish and fun

Last weekend we visited our dear friend Mirka Štenclová in southern Bohemia.  Mirka lives about 45 minutes away from the largest lake in the Czech Republic.  Every two years, the fishermen who manage the stocks in the lake, drain the water in the lake and catch all of the fish.  This is known as a výlov.  When this occurs, it brings out musicians, chefs, fish lovers, and folks who enjoy eating and watching as the fishemen do their thing.  We joined the crowd, ate fish, watched fish being caught, listened to music, and had a really nice day with Mirka and her two children.     

Monday, October 1, 2012

Communicant's Class

Something very encouraging has started in the past few weeks: our church is holding its first ever communicant’s class.  Several of the older children in Sunday School have recently expressed a desire to join the church.  The elders discussed this and decided to offer a special series of classes to prepare them for membership.  As word of these classes began to spread (this doesn’t take long in a congregation of 40 people), several adults and some teens asked if they could be included.  The result is that we now have two different groups with about six or seven in each group!  The picture in this post shows the group of adults and teens. 

We are very encouraged about these classes and our students are as well.  Class time has been primarily devoted to discussion and the exchanges have been lively and meaningful.  Please praise God with us that he has brought us so many who want to make a public profession of their faith!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Something New

A few weeks ago, we held a brief retreat to make plans for the year ahead.  We didn't go very far - just ro the lovely little mountain village of Velke Karlovice.  We included our Czech leaders in this planning process.  We tried to ask them a lot of questions and listen to their perspectives on the values that guide the church, the challenges that the church faces, the resources available to the church, and the vision they have for the church.  These discussions were very good and will hopefully lead to some new plans to reach our city.  Please pray with us as we seek to follow God's leading. 

Friday, August 31, 2012

Happy Work

Every calling has joyful and difficult parts.  Ours is no different.  One of the happiest parts of our work is the time we spend studying and praying with Czechs.  We have written about some of these opportunities in earlier posts, but here we want to tell you a bit about two groups we meet with on a pretty regular basis.

One of them is a young couple that lives in a nearby village - or maybe it's a town (there are more than 6,000 registered cities/towns/villages/wide-spots-in-the-road in this country, giving rise to endless conversation about the differences between a town and a village and a city...).  We meet with them almost every Monday evening for a couple of hours of reading and studying together.  Our friendship in Christ with them has deepened noticeably over the past several months.  And we see the Lord at work in them, and us, which is a huge delight! 

Another group is composed of the members of an extended family - grandparents, Moms and Dads, grand kids.  We have been studying the book of Mark with them and have been so encouraged by their eager interest and the lively discussions we have with them.

Please pray with us that the Lord will do a great work in the lives of these dear ones.  We often leave amazed at the sweetness of what the Lord has given us in these two families.

Friday, July 27, 2012

New Life

In one of our classes yesterday a young woman was playing a language learning game with the other students in her class.  When her turn came, she drew a card that asked her to respond to this question: "If you could meet anyone you wished, who would it be, and why would you want to meet him?"  She responded that she would like to meet God in the same way as the people whose testimonies she had heard in the evening program.

Later in the day, one of her teachers met with her and prayed with her as she entered the Kingdom.  We are celebrating with great joy!  Join us in thanking our God for his mercy.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I Want to Believe

Yesterday in one of the children's classes, the teacher read the Bible story from Luke 5 about Jesus calling Peter and his fellow fishermen.  Several times during the story, the teacher emphasized that Peter wanted to help Jesus.  At the end of the story, she asked the children if they wanted to help Jesus and what they could do.  The children gave good answers, but one was striking.  In a clear little voice one of them said, "I want to believe."
We often focus most of our attention and preparation on the adults who attend our English camps.  Thankfully, those who teach the children come well prepared, hoping for faith to spring up among these little ones.  Praise God for the opening of this heart.  May this be the first among many.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

New Day, Ancient Joy

We are in the third day of English Camp and we are enjoying the old friends and new class schedule very much.  The theme for this year's camp has been relationships.  On Sunday, we heard a sermon about the age-old call of God to join him in his joy.  We have discussed how sin ruins relationships of all kinds.  We are trying to help our students understand how to apply the gospel to the brokenness of their relationships and their hearts.  It's a huge task to teach someone else to do something that you struggle to do personally.

One of the great temptations in my life is to pretend that I have it all together, because I am a Christian.  I think most people can see through that pretty quickly - because the truth is that I DON'T have it together.  Although it's humbling to admit that I still struggle with sin - repeating the same sins, failing regularly - it connects me more closely to those who struggle in the same way, but without the joy of knowing Christ.

Please pray with us that we will make those new connections, that others may yearn for a personal connection with God, and that they may find the joy we have found.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

It's Off to Camp We Go....

It's that time of year again - a long list of "to dos", friends arriving from the US, last minute scrambling to pack and haul equipment, supplies, teaching materials, and a thousand other things to Bystřice pod Hostýnem for English Camp.  Our American team has already begun to arrive as we write this blog.  Our excellent Czech team has been preparing for months, creating a new songbook, planning for times of prayer and worship with our American teammates, and praying diligently for the Lord to be present in the camp each moment of each day.

Would you please join us in praying for the students who will come?  Many of them need to hear and respond to the good news.  Would you please pray for the presence of the Lord to be tangible in the camp?

Camp week is almost always a growing, stretching time, especially for those who serve there.  We look forward to what God will do in the coming week.  Might this be the time we have longed for when many hear and believe?  May it be so, Lord.  May it be so.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Alternate Holidays

Jan Hus
In the Czech Republic there is no such holiday as July 4th.  To them it's just another day. However, July 5th and 6th are another story.  July 5th is Cyril and Methodius day.  July 6th is the day Jan Hus was burned at the stake in 1415.  Both days are national holidays and most businesses and all government offices are closed.

Cyril and Methodius were Greek missionaries sent to the Slavic people in 862 at the request of Prince Rastislav of Great Moravia. (Say what you will, but Rastislav is a cool name.)  These brothers translated the Bible into Old Slavonic using a new alphabet - perhaps their own invention - and standardizing the spoken Slavic language of the time as they worked.  Methodius got into trouble with the ecclesiastical authorities of the day for wanting to offer worship in the language of the people.  It is likely that Methodius was influential in the conversion of several Bohemian nobles, including the grandfather of Václav I (aka Good King Wenceslaus).  Most of you are probably familiar with Jan Hus (John Huss) who raised many of the same objections to Roman Catholic practices that Luther did; but Hus was 100 years ahead of Luther.  Hus' final words were recorded as, "In 100 years, God will raise up a man whose calls for reform cannot be suppressed.” In 1517, Luther nailed his theses to the church door in Wittenberg.

Why, with such a rich history as this, are the Czechs some of the most atheistic people in the world today?  Why does a nation of unbelievers celebrate the lives of these Christians with a pair of back to back national holidays?  Or maybe, like lots of Americans, they are just happy to have a couple of days off work, whatever they are called.  I am both inspired by the richness of the Christian history of my new country and saddened by the national indifference toward it.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Day at Helfštýn

P1100438As many of you already know, we have been saying goodbye to our mission partners in recent days.  Hans and Gretchen  Deutschmann left for the US in late May.  The Andersons were with us for a few more days.  We will miss them.
We spent our last day with Louise Anderson visiting a very old castle ruin near the Polish border.  Our friend Šarka Vlková invited all of us to join her for one last get together before the Andersons returned to the States.  It was fun trying to imagine how the castle had looked in its prime.  The townsfolk have done a wonderful job of restoring parts of the ruins.  The castle houses a permanent exhibit of artistic metal works and hosts a large group of smiths and metalworkers each summer.  Some of their exhibits are shown nearby.
P1100468P1100624Please pray with us for the Deutschmanns and Andersons as they make the transition to American life.  Although it might sound like they are simply returning home, the truth is that most people who have lived abroad for any length of time find the adjustment to American life more difficult than the one they experienced in moving to a foreign country.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Conference in L’viv, Ukraine

P1090787At the end of April went to a conference in the beautiful city of L’viv, Ukraine.  MTW occasionally sponsors a conference for team leaders and their wives and we were blessed to be able to attend this year.  The conference included times of worship and prayer, and lots of great fellowship with fellow missionaries from all over Europe. 

We were able to connect with couples whom we haven’t seen for a long time.  The EnglishP1090700 worship was very much appreciated.  The times when we prayed for each other were a huge blessing.  One part of the conference focused on the introduction of a new vision for MTW in Europe and a new leadership structure.  We also heard a very interesting report from the MTW team in L’viv about how their work got started and some of the ways that God has led them in the past several years.

After the conference ended, we stayed in L’viv for a few extra days to visit with Vitaliy and Marissa Voytenko, Jenni De Jong, and Adam Garner – all of them friends we met during our days of training and support raising with MTW.  The weather was perfect – warm, sunny days, and cool evenings.  L’viv is a gorgeous place with a long, widely varied history.  Some of the pictures we took are included in the post.

  P1090956 P1090778

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Team Retreat

P1100018Last weekend we enjoyed our last team retreat with the Deutschmanns and Andersons.  Both of these couples are retiring and returning to the US within the next month.  Liz and Paul Meiners, member care coordinators for Europe, joined us in the city of Olomouc.  Although our time together was brief, it was sweet.  We enjoyed a time of singing (in English!) and Paul spoke to us from Ecclesiastes.  We will miss our friends and partners inP1100063 ministry who have helped us so much over the past two years.  Please pray for them as they make the transition back to the United States.  We have heard that returning to your native culture after living abroad is actually a more difficult adjustment than moving into a foreign culture.     


Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Visit from Katie and Ellie

P1090576We enjoyed a special treat over Easter weekend. Katie and Ellie came for a short visit! Katie is an old friend whose family has been part of our home church for many years; Ellie is a friend of Katie’s, and now, a new friend of ours. These young ladies have been teaching in Spain for the past seven months and were doing some last-minute traveling before returning to the States. We were delighted that we made it onto their schedule.

We visited Kroměříž (don’t try that with a mouth full of Rice Krispies), which was the home of several Czech archbishops. We also took them to one of our favorite events: the meeting of the Zlín home group. We were very grateful for our time with them.   P1090586

Monday, April 9, 2012

We’ve Moved

Well, actually, the church in Zlín has moved, we are still living in the same apartment.  As the departure date for the Andersons and Deutschmanns draws near, we no longer need the rented space we were using for the English teaching P1090611center. So, we moved out at the end of February.  Many of you know that the Reformed Church of Zlín also used the space at the center for Sunday worship.  When the decision to move out was made late last year, we started searching for another location for the church to meet.  We looked at rental properties in apartment buildings, storefronts, and factories – none of which seemed satisfactory for our congregation.

In the end, the Lord provided an opportunity for us to meet in the lovely building of the local Seventh Day Adventist church.  Some pictures of the inside of the building are nearby.  This is a wonderful facility!  It has seating for over 100 people (we only have 40 on a good day), a kitchen (we didn’t have one at the center), and a large area for meals and fellowship. So, it provides some room for growth.

Please pray with us that the church will see this change of venue as a challenge to grow. Thank you for your generous support!


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Jsme Ohromeni!

Translation: We’re Amazed! Thank you for your generosity in providing the money needed for the translation of Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands! We had no idea that the funds for this project would come in so quickly.

We are excited to begin the process of translation and publishing. No, we will NOT be doing the translation ourselves. That would take way too long and the result would look like a five year old’s first attempt at writing a complete sentence. There are folks here who make their living doing this sort of work and we hope to engage one of them. We will keep you posted as the work progresses. We are blessed to have such excellent partners.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Linking Czech Churches Together

One of our hopes for the Církev Reformovaná is that we can help her make connections to other likeminded churches in this country.  We took a “baby step” in that direction earlier this week by hosting a visit from the pastor and one of the leaders of Faith Community Church.  These men are missionaries with World Harvest Mission who are planting and nurturing an international church in Prague.  If you are ever in the neighborhood, please visit them.




We really enjoyed the long talks we had with Phil Davis and Bob Kinney.  We’re hoping this is just the beginning of a fruitful relationship.

Visit from Serena

In the first few weeks of January, we hosted Serena Long.  Serena is the daughter of Mark and Marge Long and a missionary to Costa Rica.  Our connection to this family was through the crisis pregnancy center in Birmingham where Annette and Marge worked together for many years.  Serena has felt God calling her to missionary life in Europe, so she wanted to visit  missionaries in this part of the world to explore how she might be used here. 

She helped us prepare for the upcoming move at our ministry center, taught one of our children’s Sunday School classes, and helped us reorganize our library.  We really enjoyed her visit and hope the Lord will use it to give her some direction for the future.  Please pray with us that she will understand God’s call and respond in faith.  P1080883

Friday, January 13, 2012

Something New

As the New Year begins, we are starting a new project.  Please take a look at the column to the right to get an idea of what we’re hoping to accomplish in the early months of 2012.  We are excited about the possibility of publishing this excellent book in the Czech language. 

As many of you already know, the print resources available to Christians in our country are pretty limited.  It is also true that the need for help in the area family and marriage problems is great.  The divorce rate here is one of the highest in the world.  This book could really help – both Christian and non-Christian families.

Please consider helping us start out this New Year in a fresh way, by enabling us to help our friends and neighbors here in the Czech Republic.  

Many Blessings on all of you!