I know that this is incredibly overdue, and I apologize for that… I actually have time now to sit down and write out what happened while in the Czech Republic. I know I have not (and probably won’t be able to) share every detail in person, but I can do my best to share everything here. :) Thanks for taking some time out to share in what God did.
I arrived in Czech late at night, on March 31st. I was greeted at the airport by Stan, Gab and Dan (these are some of the greatest people you could ever met, just sayin’). They took me from the airport to Liberec (pronounced “Liberets“), the city that I would be doing ministry in. When I got to the house, I crashed immediately. April 1st was Sunday, and I knew that I had an early morning ahead of me.
When I woke up the next day, I went down to have breakfast with Stan’s family (I was staying with them). The funniest thing happened when he introduced me to them: Stan’s wife was very kind and shook my hand when she greeted me, but his children just stared forward, seemingly afraid to make eye contact. This was my first taste of the shyness of the Czech people. After we ate breakfast and got ready, we were off for church. I encountered something else that was pretty unfamiliar to me while there as well. In Czech culture, you remove your shoes before you go into houses. Some other places have this as well, such as schools, etc. Stan’s church meets in a place that is a school during the rest of the week, and because of that we had to either remove our shoes and wear house-shoes, or, put shoe-bags over our shoes… It was kind of different!
Church went very well, though. I met people who actually wanted to communicate with me. Obviously the language barrier got in the way, and so I had a translator with me most of the time. I found out that having a translator was pretty much going to be a permanent accessory for me, simply because the language is completely different from English. Being an English speaker, though, made me a bit of an oddity, and therefore very interesting to be around. Because of some connections that a friend of mine made, I was invited to be a part of an English class in one of the local high schools. I think this was one of my most favorite things to do. I was told that I would just talk to test the student’s comprehension. So I told them about my family, about my job, and about America. I work in a church right now, and so that was one of the biggest things that I talked about. At one point, one of the girls in the class raised her hand and asked why I believe in God. So, I went into my life-story. This was an experience for me, because I have never really told my story to people, and especially in the detail that I gave to them. The entire class listened intently as I spoke (I had a translator clarify everything). A second after I finished, the bell rang, and class was dismissed. A few of the students came up to tell me “thank you for coming” and that they couldn’t believe that I still chose Jesus after all I have been through. Even the teacher came up and commented on it.
I was floored. I have never had this kind of a response before, and I couldn’t believe how much the story of what Jesus has done in my heart could affect another person. It was truly amazing.
As the week went on, I prayed and prepared for EXIT Tour, and I hung out with the youth group of Stan’s church. I helped had out some 300 New Testaments to students in front of schools – another thing I have never done before.
Finally EXIT Tour came up. I was going to be with the team the whole time, eating where they ate, sleeping where they slept, and working where they worked. It was uncomfortable to leave Stan’s family, because I had grown so close to them in such a short time. Being with the EXIT team was great though. I really couldn’t believe how awesome they were. Literally. They were encouraging, they didn’t put other people down or make anyone feel insecure… They all had the goal and focus of showing Jesus to people who have never met Him. It was really refreshing to be around a Christian culture that was not so focused on themselves.
As we went to the different schools and did the EXIT parties, I got to meet a lot of people. It was really funny how, at the start of each day, the students were not so quick to speak to us, but after we had played games and been stupid together, everyone was “warmed up” and felt more comfortable speaking. One thing that I thought was funny was how much the Czech people actually like Americans. A lot of times we think that everyone hates Americans, but really it seems like most people don’t mind. We can be loud and crazy, but that’s what makes us fun… ;)
Eventually Friday came and we had the Concert. The whole focus of the week that EXIT was in town was geared at getting kids to come to the concert. the concert was great because it was a really fun event and the gospel was also presented in a very clear way. It was done in such a way that it really left it up to the students to decide what they were going to do with the new information they were given. I was later told that four girls gave their lives to Christ that night, which is amazing even in itself. See, the concert was a huge deal, but it was only a tool. The real stuff was supposed to be carried out by the local churches through the connections that they made with students over the duration of the entire week. The fact that people gave Jesus their hearts at the concert was amazing, and even shows a bright potential for other amazing things to happen in Liberec.
After EXIT was over, I went back to Stan’s home. I was to leave the next Monday for the states. Stan and his family had a pizza party for me on my last day in Liberec as well. They invited all the youth and we just hung out for a while. It was difficult for me to not cry because I would miss everyone there so much. I still do, as well. God did a lot in me and He really opened up my eyes to see a whole new way of doing church and loving people.
Czech is a very amazing place, and I’m so blessed to have gone on this trip. Long story short, I had an amazing time, and I can’t wait to go back. :)
Thanks for taking the time to read this. Again, I know that it is way overdue, but I hope that in reading this, you get to see at least a tiny bit of how it affected me. Thanks, and God bless.