Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Unexpected Conversations, The Unexpected Impact

I have had many conversations here in the Czech.  I have not planned most of them.  At best this is the plan: "God, I am going to be on a train for a long time.  I will probably be sitting near or next to someone for a long time.  Remind me of the boldness you have given me and the call to joyful boldness you have given me."  Beyond that, not much is planned.  I have talked to both Christians and non-Christians since being here, and I am reminded of what God has taught me over the years and gave me words for last fall: You never know how much something you do or say can impact someone else.  I am saying this from a positive angle.  You never know how much an act or word of kindness, love, encouragement you consider small or insignificant will actually impact the person who is receiving.  You just don't.

There is a great quote by Henry Brooks Adams, "A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops."  This not merely a truth for teachers.  You never know where your impact stops.  Did my youth pastor in 7th and 8th grade know I would be in the Czech Republic preaching the gospel and discipling team members and students?  No, but my ministry here is a part of his legacy.  Did my parents know where I would end up; who I would speak to or impact when they were raising me?  No, but each one of those moment is a part of their legacy.  I could go on and on about those who have touched my life and have subsequently touched the lives of many they will never meet on this side of heaven.  The impact is a part of their legacy.

God has given me opportunities to bless and teach and encourage in ways that are so contrary to what I gave my life to for so many years.  Sometimes it is unbelievable that He is not only giving me this opportunity to give and impact rather than take and use, but He has called me to it.  It is not, "Well, here ya go.  Why not?"  It is, "I want you for this.  Right here, right now."

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has  prepared for those who love him.”
1 Corinthians 2:9

This is every day, every moment.  This is the person you got to talk to at Starbucks, the person you sat by on the train, the waitress you had serve you dinner last night, your lifelong friend, your week long friend.  This is your life touching the lives of others and God taking that impact, no matter how small you may have thought it was, and multiplying it in the receiver's life like five loaves of bread and two fish.  That's the picture.  When you touch someone else's life, when you offer a taste, a glimpse of Jesus to someone else no matter how small, you do not know how much Jesus will then show up in that person's life, how much impact and life change He will have through you.  It's pretty crazy.  Your impact is a picture of Jesus and a conduit for Jesus Himself.

"We are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls...And let us not grow weary of doingood, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up."
Hebrews 10:39; Galatians 6:9

Saturday, June 19, 2010

One month in, six months to go

It's really late.  I'm not going to write much on this one.  Gotta a couple of things to say and ask for though :)

We got more new photos up!

Our visit to Strakonice was really great.  For two quick and sweet accounts of our visit to Strakonice, check out Leah's perspective and/or Alli's perspective.  You'll get some of mine soon too.

God provided and we got our visa stuff taken care of, stopping Satan from making us more busy and making us leave the country before our call here is up.  I didn't realize to half way through the process that this wasn't mere paperwork; there was a spiritual battle behind the scenes to keep us here in the Czech to continue serving Jesus.

Please pray that God would continue to mold me into a Christ-like leader.  This is pretty much my rookie season.  Sometimes it feels like I'm doing everything wrong and other times it doesn't feel that bad and other times I feel like I'm getting it...kind of ;)

Please pray that the team and I would not live out of fear but would be bold and step out where and when the Spirit is prompting us, whether it is to stop and pray, encourage someone, start a conversation with a stranger, rebuke a brother or sister, and etcetera.

Love you all.  I hope to Skype with some of you soon :)

Here's to you from Team BonJon!

P.S. Darkhorse and Thin Ice have made it to the Czech Republic.  Pretty cool, huh?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Leaving Zlin and on to Tabor - first visit down (and a link to pictures!)

No video this time around.

We just finished up our visit in Zlin, Czech Republic.  What a weekend.  Here's what our weekend looked like:

Thursday: Arrive in afternoon, meeting with Samuel Hust (Czech team leader), meeting with Sam and two of his students (Filip and Bara), all ages evening Bible study - worship, Jenda taught on Jonah and being used by God despite our weaknesses and failures, Ryan gave part of his testimony, and I got to share about the camp theme of "Redeem" and vision to see redemption in the lives of students at camp, home stay with Ryan at Filip's house - great food (fresh watermelon!) and coffee and tea, Ryan played some guitar, watched some videos of the youth group on Facebook and showed Filip videos from camps Ryan and I had done.

Friday: Wake up for a great breakfast with great coffee and tea, go to Sam's house, get 300 flyers for an afternoon sports/games/sausage cookout to walk around Zlin and give to students (There are lots of them because there is a film festival going on.), pass out flyers (slackline for 20 minutes) 'til lunch, get lunch, Sam gives us 200 more flyers, pass out flyers 'til 3:30 - none left, go to the sport court for games and hang out and sausage sandwiches and prayer that students will respond, one guy and three girls come (sweet!), play floorball, volleyball, mosquito tag, snake tag, human bumper cars, and the awkward game (let two little boys who see us playing play, and Sam and a few other adults get to connect with their parents. Cool!), eat sausage sandwiches (all while connecting with the youth group and the four students who came), drop our bags off, go to movie in the park with students and watch "The Spy Next Door" with Jackie Chan (Czech dubbed.  Still didn't miss much though), sleep in youth group room.

Saturday: Wake up, team meeting with Czech team from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. - vision, team building, what does camp look like?, prayer, responsibilities, questions, small groups, purpose and theme of talks, encouragement, travel to grass field on the side of a hill - hang out and slackline (two girls from the day before join us - Hannah and Reanna), play the Australian Jumping Game (aka Stomp) and Jell-O, split off and get dessert with the intern team - talk about what we learned about God and ourselves this weekend and where you think God has called you to be fruitful at camp rather than just busy, go to youth group room, talk to a non-Christian who is staying with us, go to sleep.

Sunday: Wake up early, go to church conference (two sister churches that get together twice a year), miss the bus because we can't find the youth room key, leave it unlocked and take a car, surprised to see one of the non-Christian girls from Friday with the bus group (her name is Veronica), listen to messages in Czech, worship, speak for 20 minutes on what shapes me - Bible, prayer, and people (pastors, friends, mentors, etc), more messages, lunch and hanging out, more worship and messages (Alli shared for a few minutes about God's love - it was great), get to talk with Luci (one of the Czech youth group students - one of the lead students of the group) about grace and joy and forgiveness, cook sausages on a stick over an open fire, play the Australian Jumping Game again, pray with Czech team, group picture, say goodbye, hang out in youth room as a team, relax, play BANG! a few times, read, write blog.

For Monday: Still writing blog, take a train to Tabor, rest and do laundry

Quite a weekend.  The team and I are already looking forward to our camp with them in mid-July.

FOR MORE PICTURES OF THE WEEKEND CLICK HERE (Thank you Ryan for taking all those pictures).

Prayer Requests: Jenda and Eva are both taking university entrance exams this week - Eva on Monday and Jenda on Tuesday.  Please pray that they pass.  Please pray that the Christian students in Zlin would be bold and invite their friends to camp and follow up on the relationships they built this weekend.  Please pray that we get some good rest in Tabor as we travel to Strakonice on Thursday for 5 days.  Pray for team unity and sensitivity to the Spirit.  Pray that we would continue to prepare and persevere.  Please pray that God would provide all of Jenda and Eva's support (they are really close).  Please pray Romans 12:1-2 over us: "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Thanks Dad).

Thank you all for you love and prayer and support.  I am continually encourage by how God is moving here.

P.S. Hope you enjoy the pictures :)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Amazing Race and Malenovice: Vlog 5

If you can't see the video below, click here.

Also, a couple things not mentioned in the video.  Jenda is still raising support (check out the new pic below).

God has provided $1,140.00, so he only needs $560.00 more!  This is incredible.  I am still excited and honored to have him on the team this summer.  I fully believe he is one of the many chosen people in this country God will use to bring an awakening to the Czech Republic and Eastern Europe as a whole.

As we finished our last night of intern training we went through a labrynth (a guided walk through the hotel with stations along the way and plenty of candlelight).  We made trees where the roots were people God has used to form and shape and influence us; you were the trunk, and the branches were people you do and can influence.  We went on to mold play-dough into what fulfills us and is our foundation.  After this, we were asked to write a letter to ourselves - What do you like about yourself?  What do you want to leave behind?  What sins need to be pruned away?  What are some things you want to start?  In this letter I wrote my first "What if...?" page (thanks Donald Miller).  We then went to write names on rocks of people we need to and want to forgive and make marks on the rocks for things we need forgiveness for, and when we were ready we hurled them into the woods - as far as the east is from the west so God has removed our sins from us.  We then followed a candlelit path down the stairs to a room where we dipped our hands in clean water - representing the innocence of our initial creation, but then we dipped our hands in dirt to represent our rebellion and sin.  We then walked over to a leader who washed our hands symbolizing Jesus redeeming us and washing us clean (Zechariah 3 and Jude 24-25 among others).  Our hands were then anointed with oil and the person who anointed them prayed for us.  Then we walked the Romans Road with the verses lit by candles making a commitment to love and serve and obey at the end by lighting a candle as a sign of our commitment.  Worship bookended this (great worship in great community), and our team took communion together before the journey, remembering Jesus' death and also remembering where Jesus has met us powerfully and with grace in our lives (thanks Mark Johnson).

Again, I miss you all.  It is hard and wonderful here.  I hope it is hard and wonderful for you as well wherever God has called you for this time.