FreshPoint//To this point

Hey!

So much has happened these past few months, and I am so glad that I can share with you what has been going on. The last time I wrote, Lucie and I were just about to get married… and now we are! We have had nearly a year together and no one has died (yet…). We absolutely love it that we can live, work, and serve together as a team – Marriage is awesome!

Because so much time has passed, I will just give the highlights.

Kristfest
kf 1.jpgKristfest gets better each year. The theme was “Radost” which means “Joy” in Czech. This past year we had record attendance (over 300 students!) and many either gave their lives to Christ or they renewed their relationship with Him. What a joy, right? So many students came to know what it means to have joy in the Lord and in the presence of Jesus. Lucie and I were so proud, too, because our youth group had a large hand in making everything happen. We had people working at registration, translating, serving and setting up for seminars, and even setting up and taking down the tent. We were so busy! God is so good, though. I believe that it gave us good momentum for the year ahead of us.

After Kristfest, Freshpoint took a short break as Lucie and I went to the States.

trip to America

It was our first time traveling as a couple, living out of suitcases for a month and a half. It was exciting and an incredibly blessed time, if not dificult, at times. We were able to visit good friends, serve both in youth groups and in churches, and we had a chance to encourage and be encouraged. Lucie and I both preached at different churches, and we had an amazing time with many of God’s greatest people (we’re not biased or anything…). Towards the end of the trip we were excited and ready to be back home. We came back to the Czech Republic right at the start of the next school year.

getting back/hardships with Freshpoint

IMG_1909.JPGComing back home was really great and we were still riding that Kristfest “high” a little, but we started to see some difficult things in Freshpoint. All of a sudden it seemed that some people had stopped coming and some people were just less enthusiastic. It wasn’t like we were having a crisis or anything, but it just felt kind of “flat”. Something that we noticed was that it was certainly time to pass more responsibility on to people who had shown that they could handle it. After meeting with our new team and trying some new things out, we started to find our bearing again.

new vision and new life

Over the past few months we were able to refresh the ministry and the youth group has been growing both in number and in spirit. We have a very strong core team of amazing young people who have taken responsibility and who help us greatly. It is amazing to see them grow stronger in God. We also see them serve on the national level in worship, administration, and organization – we are very excited about them! Many things have been going on (our youthgroup is often invited to speak, lead worship, or hold a whole service in many other towns nearby), but one thing that we are very proud about is how this past weekend we hosted a weekend retreat (“víkendovka” in Czech). A few young people from other churches and even unbelievers attended. It was a great time of building relationships and strengthening those bonds, and when it came to the time to focus on God, many were deeply touched and affected by the Holy Spirit. It was great!

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In addition, our students are open about God and their faith in Him, and talk about it with their classmates. Some of our students even invited them to some of the events we have had. For example, one of our student’s classmate was completely against church and God. However, through the friendship and our student’s heart, she is now open to Jesus and has already attended two of our events!

what’s coming up

kfThe upcoming season will be exciting for various reasons. We are going to have a concert with a Slovak rapper who talks about Christ during his concerts. If everything goes well, it is going to be in the very heart of the city. In July, we will be at Kristfest again. The topic this year is Fearless. Being in the core team, I am really excited about this and we are expecting great things to happen! Also, in the fall, we will host an outreach called ExitTour (this is the same outreach that I was a part of when I first came to Czech and when God called me to be a full-time missionary here). There are a lot of great things, and we are excited that our youth group is a large part of making things happen!

how you can pray

In our region, we are praying for better relationships among the local churches. The vision is to meet at least four times a year and to have a huge youth meeting together. We strongly believe in this and pray that God will be glorified through it – please be praying with is that God would continue to grow his church in our region and encourage the youth to take a stand for their faith!

Also, I am going to the USA this summer after Kristfest and I am going to visit churches and, unfortunately, Lucie has to stay in the Czech Republic and study for her final exams at university. A great thing, though, is that on the way back, I will have the opportunity to speak at a very large youth festival in London. Please be praying for me as I prepare for this trip, pray that God would provide the resources as I travel, and pray that He would speak through me.

So, that is it in a nutshell! Thanks for taking the time to read through this; we really value our prayer supporters and our family in the States – without you guys, this would be a lot more difficult.

We’re praying you would be blessed in our Saviour and that he would bring you encouragement, just as he has been encouraging us!

Much love,

Justin and Lucie

FreshPoint//Winter

Hello!

It has been a while since Lucie and I have sent an update letter, but I have finally been able to take some time to let you know what is going on; many things have happened! From outreaches to regular FreshPoint nights, structure changes and introducing new elements, FreshPoint has undergone some “spring cleaning.” We are excited to share the news with you!

Outreaches and events

In November we celebrated Thanksgiving, (not a Czech holiday) and we had around 30 people in attendance. It was a great night of playing games, getting to know new people, and enjoying good food; just like Thanksgiving ought to be. Some new faces showed up and have been with us ever since. Also, around November we were trying to get an international, English-speaking group going at the University. While that is still in development, some good things came from it mainly that some of those students have started coming to FreshPoint or meeting with me regularly during the week. We will continue to build relationships with the students we have now and try to engage more people in devoting more time to it.

New Years and Christmas
SV Challenge accepted.jpgOne of the things about FreshPoint is that even though we are about average in size, we are influential across the Czech Republic. We helped organize and put on “Silvestrovská chata,” which means “New Year’s Cottage.” It is a retreat that lasts for three and a half days over the New Year’s holiday. The event is relatively small, consisting of youth groups from all over the north-western region of the Czech Republic, but it was a fantastic time where we discussed the challenges that we face daily in our walk with Christ, and how important it is to meet them head-on with Jesus.

Lucie and I were involved in many things, but most importantly we worked with discipling the guys and girls. The retreat lasted about three days, but they were three days of enjoying the presence of God and each other as we opened the new year, ready to pursue God to the fullest and meet every challenge head-on with Jesus.

January: pause and refocus

In January, I was blessed to be able to kind of just “attend” FreshPoint (in truth I was doing other things in the background, but I didn’t need to speak from the front so much, which was great!). We had guest speakers, and we continued the theme of meeting our day-to-day challenges with faith and an attitude of “This, and everything I do, I do for Christ.” In January we began to have some “experimental” changes with the main one being how we would come up with themes for each month. In an attempt to get students more involved, we decided to discuss what people deal with and how we can learn to face these things as Christians. It was a sort of “elective” and “democratic” way of discipleship. In some ways, it was a great idea, and in others, it had its shortcomings. One big positive, though, was that more students began to take responsibility for FreshPoint and the inner workings of the ministry.

The final Thursday in January was Family Night and, usually, we all spend a fun evening together in an environment that is easy for people to invite their friends. This time, however, we had guy/girl’s night, where we still had our “regular” activities and games. However, we also had a slightly more focused discussion on what it means to be a man or woman of God, what that means for our relationships, and how we should carry ourselves.

Relationships and love

February is the month of Love, right? We talked about the various types of relationships we have in our lives and how we, as followers of Jesus, ought to act and respond to each situation. feb.jpgStan and Jiřina talked about dating, Simona and Jaromir (small group leaders in our church) talked about how to have Jesus as the center of a relationship, and Kirk McAteer (an Australian pastor from Birmingham, England) spoke on the importance of sharing the gospel with people around us.

On Family Night, we watched the movie “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” and we talked shortly about “seeing the impossible” and “expecting more from your life.” It was a great set-up for our topic in March!

Living differently: Life to the full

život naplno bible app.jpgJust this past month we talked about living our lives to the fullest. To be honest, I was looking forward to this month more than all of the others, partially because I would be speaking to FreshPoint again after a 2-month “break.” Even more than this, though, I honestly believe that our lives with Christ should make us more active, more creative, more productive in everything with the root motivation for this found in the JOY that we have from knowing Christ.

Also, on March 28th I and some other people from various churches in Liberec decided hosted to have an event English movie night on the university campus at the university dorms. We hosted an English movie night on campus, and this alliance is through Young Life. The idea is to build relationships with students and show them the love of Christ. Honestly, I was quite surprised to find out how many of the college students I know and how much influence I have been gaining with them. For the moment, the idea is to continue with these English movie night outreaches, then in September to have a slightly more gospel-oriented yet “seeker friendly” program.

How can you pray for us?

As you can see, we have been and are working very hard. We would be honored and so grateful if you would join us by praying for two main things:

1. As Lucie and I prepare to get married (it’s coming fast, May 27th is just around the corner!), we pray that God would help us to put each other first, but also that he would use us for his Kingdom and his glory.

2. We have seen a decline in attendance in the last month. While this is due to a myriad of things (sickness, activities, trips, etc.), we are looking for ways to better our service. We have implemented some of our “experimental” changes in some areas, and “gone back to the basics” in others. Please pray that God would give us His favor, wisdom, and an open door. Also and that He would lead us to the right people while leading the right people to us.

Thanks for taking the time to read this! I know it is a lot, but I appreciate it that you have stuck it out this far! It has been a long time since I have posted, again I apologize, I will do better in the future.

Have a great day and be blessed!

Justin

Making Strides

Hello, all!

Who knew October could be so busy?

All in all, things have been going great here in our neck of the woods. FreshPoint is doing well and has some great opportunities, the church is growing, and Lucie and I have received some excellent opportunities to speak into the lives of many students from all over the country.

First off, I have to say that FreshPoint is in such a healthy position. We have recently gone through some leadership changes, but they were definitely God-ordained; I believe that this has lent to the smoothness that we experienced during this time of transition. We are in a phase of building our leadership core to accommodate more students, and we are working with our student-serving team to give FreshPoint an unbeatable atmosphere where students can seek God wth all of their heart.

This concept was brought to life just this past Thursday when we met. We started off with some mingling, snacking, and chatting; then we played a game to kind of break the ice. When we got to the Word, though, it was just so powerful and impactful to talk about the greatness, magnificence, and sheer splendor, with which God loves us. If no one else was, I know that at least I was greatly touched, both when preparing the message and while presenting.

Then we had a time of prayer where the students went after God with everything they have like I have only seen at conferences. People were praying together, encouraging each other, worshipping with all of their hearts – and we didn’t even have a band playing! God’s presence was remarkably tangible.

And each week it gets better. We have honestly seen a growth in our student’s passion for God and their involvement with bringing His message of love and hope to their day-to-day lives.

The church here is doing excellent as well. We are kicking off some new small groups this week, of wich one will be specifically aimed at reaching the community of foreigners that are living in our city. This group is especially exciting for me, as my dream since moving here has been to start an evening service that will be in English.

As a foreigner myself, I am quite familiar with the intimate details of living in a country where the culture, language, and habits of the people are all strange and particularly difficult to learn. Our goal with this group is to reach those that already believe and give them at the least a temporary home where they can freely worship God, as well as to reach out to those that have no community. Jesus was all about bringing those that were considered by the rest of society to be outcasts to the table and doing life with them – showing them that they matter to Him. We want to mirror our Lord’s actions with this endeavor. Please join us in praying for these people and this group!

Finally, as October draws to a close, so draws near the annual, national youth conference, Sjezd. Lucie and I have been working tirelessly with the core team to bring fresh ideas, new methods, and engaging messages that will impact this generation. From deciding on seemingly-insignificant details to putting together activities meant to lead the students into a deeper realization of who Jesus is, we have done our best to make this a great program.

You can join us by praying that not only this Conference is a hit, but also by praying that we minister as Jesus would minister and that we speak as Jesus would speak. Sjezd an incredible moment where we will come in contact with students from all over the country, and we will have the opportunity to talk to students both individually and in group settings. Our prayer is that we may walk in humility and honesty as we use our influence to help make way for Jesus to walk into their lives.

That’s what we’ve been up to! God is doing mighty things, and we are incredibly busy, but we are so excited that we can be a part of what the Lord is doing in the Czech Republic! Please do not forget to pray for us as we move forward, and please pray that the Lord uses us to bring his Kingdom to Earth. May His will be done!

Much love to all of you! May our Father bless you out of His abundant love.

P.S. – Don’t hesitate to drop a line! We’d love to hear from you!

US Trip 2016

Lucie and I spent the month of August traveling around the United States, visiting with pastors, speaking at churches, and building relationships to support the work we are doing in the Czech Republic. Our goal was to grow our support base so that we can further the work that is happening not only in Liberec (our city) but all over the Czech Republic.

[LOO-a-vul], Kentucky

img_6714Our first stop was in Louisville, Kentucky.
We attended the WE Global Roundtable, where we met many people. The whole conference was
very encouraging for me because I was able to learn from the experience of individuals that have been serving on the missions field all across the world, and that have been serving for many years.

The following weekend we spent with Craig and Sarah Johnson at Hope Culture. Craig and Sarah were my directors when I started Master’s Commission in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Craig and Sarah started Hope Culture in 2013, the same fullsizerenderyear that I moved to the Czech Republic. Being at their church and being able to share what God has been doing through my ministry in CZ was a
“full circle” moment for me; I wouldn’t have become the person I am today without their discipleship. Craig and Sarah have been a continual source of inspiration for me as they chase their dreams with God. Hope Culture is a dream church led by amazing people!

 

The Lone Star State

img_6765That same Sunday we flew from Louisville to Austin, where we met up with my mom. I hadn’t seen her in a few years, living in the Czech Republic and bouncing around the United States in general. It was a relaxing week for us with not too much planned; our primary focus was to spend time with family. I had some great conversation with my little brother, and I had some down time to prepare my messages that were coming up in the following weeks.

We also had a meeting with the lead pastor of Destiny Church in San Antonio, Matt Bell. That meeting was very encouraging, in many ways. Matt has never met Lucie nor me, so he had no idea what we were doing at all in the Czech Republic. We were able to talk openly about FreshPoint and the state of the Church within CZ, as well as all the things that we are involved in. Matt was very excited about the work we are doing and encouraged us so much – he even gave us pointers on how we should tell people about the amazing work that Christ is accomplishing through us. I left the meeting very excited, and I was looking forward to sharing with even more people what God is doing in people’s lives through this ministry.

Not what was expected, but much better

After saying goodbye to Texas, we went to Oklahoma. Our first stop was at Ray of Hope Church in Comanche, Oklahoma. The original plan was that I was supposed to speak Sunday night, then Lucie and I would speak together at the youth service. Life, though, doesn’t always go according to plan…

fullsizerender-3Before I get too into the story, I have to take a second to say that Kraig and Sarah Ramsey were fantastic hosts. We have had the privilege to host them twice in the Czech Republic, and I consider them great friends that have poured into my life more than they realize (it must be the “Kraig/Sarah” combination). It was so refreshing to see them (along with everyone else that was a part of the team) and to spend some time with them. The Family of God is BIG. No matter where you are in the world, it is such an amazing thing to meet with people that love and serve the same God you do.
I was so excited to speak Sunday evening at Ray of Hope. I had spent time writing a message that, I felt, presented very eloquently the work that we have been doing. I felt it was funny, well thought out, etc., etc. Evidently, God had a different idea. Due to an issue with the AC units, service was canceled for that Sunday evening. We came up with a contingency plan, but that didn’t work out as I had planned either.

fullsizerender-2In the end, Lucie had a message ready for the youth and didn’t need me, and I had nowhere to speak. So, I decided to send Terren Anderson, the pastor of Life Church in Mcallister, OK a message asking if I could visit them for their Wednesday night service. He said yes, so I rented a car and made my way there. Lucie would meet me in McAllister the next morning after she had preached. Terren gave me a couple of minutes to speak to his congregation that Wednesday night. It was cool how Lucie and I could be in two different places, talking about the same Great God we have and multiplying or efficacy.

Going back to where it all started

Once we finished our adventure in Oklahoma, we set out for Arkansas. Arkansas was a rapid succession of events and just one complication. The first church I spoke at was Jesus Generations in Bonanza, Arkansas. This church is a cozy little church that was founded by David and Terri Oden – amazing people of God. I know David from my years in Master’s Commission (he was working for Harvest Time at the time), and it was again a very special moment for me to witness the dreams taking place for someone that I know, and for them to share in the dreams that God has placed in my life.

The next speaking engagement was at Templo de Alabanza, a Spanish-speaking church in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Speaking at this church came out of nowhere and was not planned a month in advance (like most of my other connections). I met with pastors Felix and Ali Cobos Saturday morning for breakfast, where they asked me to speak for them. What a way to test “be[ing] ready in season and out of season”! I accepted and, for the first time, spoke with a translator WITHIN the United States. That was an exciting experience for me! The church was very welcoming and passionate. I’m looking forward to speaking at the church again next summer, and this time, I plan to do to so without an interpreter!

img_6881We spent Sunday at Harvest Time Church, my “second home”. I love visiting HT; I did so much spiritual growing up within that church, and it was thanks to HT that I found where God was calling me. That Sunday at Harvest Time I visited Sheila Dyer’s Sunday morning class, which is full of so many wonderful people that I consider to be as grandparents for me. The entire class prays for me and the ministry regularly, and they often send me messages of encouragement on Facebook. If it weren’t for them, I don’t know that I would be able to have held on at the start of my mission to CZ.

That Sunday at Harvest Time, pastor Marty Sloan and Deron Freeman ordained me. Again (like so many times on this trip), it was so important and special to me, because I came to Harvest Time to gain training and experience to go into ministry. Now, after having been on the missions field for the past three years, I was being recognized as a minister of the gospel. Being ordained wasn’t important because it was a new title or a new responsibility, but I saw it more as a confirmation of what I had been doing for some time. It was a very humbling and sobering moment for me.

Sunday evening, to wrap everything up, I spoke at Victory Church in Fort, Smith. Pastor Preston Smith is, and the community at Victory are, very encouraging people. It was so much fun to speak a message that was a little more geared towards the youth, but that gave a bit of context to the verse “The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10).” The night ended with the church coming and praying for Lucie and me, and for FreshPoint.

Time for a breather, and other important things

We left Arkansas to spend a few days with my family in Springfield, Missouri and to recuperate from the whirlwind visit to the Fort. We had a meeting at James River Church (amazing church to visit, if you’re ever in Springfield, MO). Also, Springfield was the location of a significant event for Lucie and me…

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We got engaged! It ended up different than I planned (that happens a lot), but she still said yes.

Last stop, Atlanta

img_7021Once we left Missouri, our last stop to be made was at Cross Church in Atlanta, Georgia.
I would love to write all the details that made this leg of our journey special, but that would take up so much more time. Suffice it to say that it was the icing on a very, very beautiful and delicious cake to spend our last weekend in the States with Josh and Monica Mayo at Cross Church. They have, as well, been a huge inspiration to my walk with Christ and my pursuit of the dreams that God has given me. The church took such good care of us and made sure to show us how much they value what we are doing.

Home again, home again

After this whole trip, it was so hard for me to get back on the plane to go back to the Czech Republic. It wasn’t difficult because I didn’t want to go back, but more because of all the love that was shown to us… I knew that I wouldn’t see so many of these phenomenal people for at least another year, and I just wanted to have a few more moments.

At the same time, though, I was so looking forward to getting back to Czech. After speaking on the work that has been accomplished and praying over the ministry that is taking place, I felt God giving me more dreams and more vision for the future, and I am so excited to see it the fruit that will come of it.

So, in short, so much has happened, yet there is so much to look forward to. I believe that God has special plans for this ministry and this little country. I’m so humbled, thankful, and blessed to be a part of what God is doing here. The future is bright, and God’s kingdom is undeniably expanding.

Thank you, all of you that have played a role in making the ministry here possible. Without you, we wouldn’t have anything to write home about. Thank you, all of you that have been praying for us. Without you, we would not have operated in wisdom, nor would we have received the vision necessary to carry out such a work. Please continue to pray for us, that in all that we do, may we glorify God.

Great things

 

Ray of Hope team13439091_10154309199453064_889156943775312236_n

It was such a great week of ministry, despite the rough start. I was sick for an entire week before the team got here, and my body was quite weak when they arrived. We pushed through, though, and saw God work in some huge ways. Continue reading