Ray of Hope team
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.
The team arrived on Saturday, and we were able (despite the rain) to give them a taste of the Czech tradition of “mushroom hunting” and picking wild blueberries in the forest. Kraig Ramsey, the youth pastor at Ray of Hope (ROH) and the organizer for the trip, preached at the Sunday morning service about Victory in Christ.
Later that day, our team received a text message from someone saying that their brother-in-law, who, up to that day, had been a Satanist, decided to accept Christ as his Lord and Savior after hearing the message Kraig preached. Also, another woman at that service, who had attended church in the past but in recent years had all but given up on her faith, said that the word preached was exactly what she needed to hear and wanted to recommit her life to Christ. What a powerful start to this missions trip!
Work work work work work…
Throughout the week, during the mornings, the team labored at the church, updating the building and fix things that needed work (some things needed a LOT of work). They were able to accomplish so much more than the church leadership anticipated, and because of that they were able to give more time to ministering on the streets in the afternoon.
We had obtained permission from the city to run a photo booth on the main square offering free pictures to passersby. With each photo we took, we gave people the Gospel according to John as well as invites to FreshPoint and our Sunday morning services. Altogether we took over 300 pictures and passed out many, many gospels (unfortunately we did not keep track of how many we passed out).
The coolest part about passing out the gospels, in my opinion, was that for the next week you could see people on the square or around the city, sitting on benches or steps, reading the gospel. How powerful is that?
Strong beginnings, stronger endings
The teams week of ministry ended Thursday night with FreshPoint. The team led worship, Kraig preached again, and the team shared some testimonies. The most powerful part was afterwards, when the team prayed with the students. Nearly everyone in attendance got prayed for, and the Spirit of God was so present throughout the whole service. Many students were able to move forward in forgiveness, accepting their identity in Christ, and surrendering themselves more to Him.
One person at FreshPoint had been hurt by the church in the past and felt that the church did not actually love like it is supposed to. This person cam forward for prayer and said that it had been such a testimony to her to see the love that the team showed everyone, and the ease with which they had amongst themselves. She said that she hadn’t seen that sort of freedom in the church that hurt her. It’s amazing the love that Jesus has for his sheep, but especially for those that have gotten lost.
Arriving at Kristfest
Lucie and I arrived on Friday, the day before Kristfest was to begin, so that we could help with the final preparations and be present for the team meetings. As I came I wasn’t necessarily expecting anything for myself, but more so looking forward to what God was going to do in the lives of my students.
Kristfest kicked off with a great word from Martin Penc about the Kingdom of God and how we should, through God’s word, make that our internal “setting,” so that when we go into the world, we take the Kingdom with us wherever we go.
The whole week followed this theme of “Kingdom Culture,” and it was amazing to see how the students really grabbed a hold of this message and began to apply it, even from the first night of the camp.
What did I do?
My main job was oversight of translations, making sure that our foreign guest speakers had translators for their seminars, counseling meetings, prayer times, translation when a service was in Czech, etc. in addition, I worked as host and guide, taking care of whatever they needed and in general just making myself available.
Even though Kristfest can be difficult because of the early mornings, late nights, and emotionally draining days, I left with a feeling of relaxed fulfillment. Everyone experienced a peace that can only come from such a large group (over 300 people, the numbers are still being calculated) going after God with everything they have and God meeting them where they are.
For me, having been able to spend the week with Kirk McAtear from Connect Church in
Birmingham, England, I was able to receive so much. God’s presence was in everything, our conversations were so encouraging, fun and thoroughly enjoyable. Getting to see them worship together, leading the English activities together, and translating for them, I was able to see and experience from a different “angle” the love and spirit of servanthood of Christ.
Kristfest this year was simply amazing. The whole week couldn’t have been better planned or executed, and it was all thanks to lots of prayer, excellent planning, and flawless execution. God’s grace was evident in every aspect.
After Kristfest, FreshPoint had the wonderful opportunity to host Jason Vana for three days. This is the second time that Jason has been with us, and even though he was with us for only three days, I feel like we accomplished enough to fill up two weeks!
Jason had a special service that was open to the whole church on Tuesday evening. He talked about calling and how oftentimes our timeline for our calling doesn’t exactly match up with God’s timeline for our lives. Using the story of Joseph from Genesis, he illustrated how many times we have to experience many ups and downs before we get to the dream or promise that God started us off with.
The following day, Jason had a meeting for the student serving team in FreshPoint called Level Up. There he spoke to the students about what it means to serve and how as we serve people, really we are serving Christ.
The final meeting was at FreshPoint. Touching on the themes from Tuesday night and the morning meeting with Level Up, Jason talked about how God’s promises may seem unfulfilled for a time, but really we need to be steadfast and trust that the work He started, He will finish.
Ministry in action
Every session ended in a time of prayer and prophetic ministry. Jason’s ministry in Czech is more aimed at identifying the call of God in people’s lives, and calling that into being. Many people received encouraging words and got a boost in their faith to take that next step with God. Many people received confirmation to things God has been speaking to them already, and many received something new. My prayer is that the seeds that were planted this week would take root and start a wave of change within the city of Liberec.
As if all the ministry that happened wasn’t enough, Jason also worked very hard with me to update the logos for FreshPoint and work on some of our other graphic designs. He put in time to help me update things on this site, and in general, worked to make the FreshPoint’s presentation better. I have known Jason for about two years now, and I have worked with him a little in the past, but working with him on these things gave me a whole new insight to his heart for the Czech Republic and for missions. I am humbled by how much he did, and so grateful for the great help he has been to me and to FreshPoint.
So, as I look back at this month, I can say it has been a wild ride. It has been one of the busiest I have yet experienced, but so much has been accomplished and God has done some amazing work. It has been a month full of learning experiences coupled with grace, full of moments where it would be easier to throw in the towel, but pressing forward has brought a bountiful harvest. It has been a month that has shown me how great our God is and how much he cares for his people. So much has happened, and I wouldn’t trade any of it; as we say goodbye to July, we can look forward to the months to come with expectation, because we will the growth from all of the seeds that have been planted. Praise God! I feel that with all these things, we can say with the psalmist:
2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.”
3 The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad. – Psalm 126:2-3