Hello and blessings from the Czech Republic!
This post is a LOT longer than what I usually write, but I really felt it was important. I appreciate you taking the time to read it through!
A lot has happened since the last time I wrote and I feel so blessed and privileged to bring you up to speed on how the Lord has been working and pouring out His blessing here in The Czech Republic.
God has been so good and shown His favor. Recently we completed “EXIT Tour”; which is a massive program where a team comes for a whole week and partners with a local church or group of churches to reach the youth of the city. What they do is they get a band and go to schools, put on small concerts, play games with the students, and have seminars where Christian principles are talked about. All of this culminates in a Friday Night concert that the students are invited to where the gospel is shared. This time around, our church decided to take full the responsibility on ourselves, which means that our church provided food and volunteers for the entire week.
One of our church members (Thankfully not me) was the primary contact person between EXIT and us, and my role was to be the “crazy American” and manage our volunteers. We went to 4 different schools where we played games and talked with students. Every day, we invited them to come to an “After Party,” where they would get a chance to meet the band and talk with us and get free food (always one of the best ways to attract students).
Very few students came to the After Parties, which was a little discouraging, but the final night, Friday, there were TONS of kids that showed up – I believe the last count was 215. The band played the concert and shared the gospel, to which over 50 kids responded and surrendered their lives to Christ. WOW, such an amazing display of His love.
Just to remind you, Czechia is the second most atheistic country, right behind Japan. People don’t usually react in droves to the Gospel.
After EXIT, through December and January, we had a lot of follow up activities to maintain the relationships and try to get the kids plugged into the youth group. One of these activities is Discovery Bible.
Discovery Bible is where we simply invite students to come to our home, we prepare a meal for them and just do life together – we tell stories, laugh, joke, and we read a story from the Bible, then comment on it.
The greatest thing, though, is that some of the students that attend are NOT believers – they are open and curious about Christ and Christianity, but have not yet made the commitment to make Jesus Lord of the lives. We are believing and praying, though, that through these informal meetings, they will come to know Jesus as their friend, brother, Savior and King.
February, though, was very different and started off with a bang.
Just to backtrack a little, In January I was contacted by one of the head leaders of EXIT and asked if I would like to go with them to a small town called Náchod. I was told that they needed another American (a lot of people really want to meet Americans and are usually pretty excited to try speaking English, so it gives a lot of opportunities to foster relationships). I said I would pray about it.
I was kind of worried because, as many of you know, Lucie and I are not fully-funded missionaries, and Lucie is a student. Because of this, I teach English to make up the difference, and missing a full week of work was not very appealing to me.
Finally, I decided to go and to trust God, that he would provide for us. The same night I wrote my response, I was contacted by one of our supporters saying that they were increasing our support. God is so good!
So I went to Náchod. I met LOADS of students, and I was able to share a lot with them. I won’t go into all of the details of how this EXIT Tour was different, but I will say that the Americans were the main attraction – the band didn’t come until the very last night.
At one of the schools, though, during the discussion time, the conversation led to my group sharing what was one of the hardest things that we have ever dealt with in our lives (to make a long story short, I was asked about my tattoo, which has a lot to do with my testimony). As we went around the circle saying our stories, my heart was breaking for these kids. One boy’s brother died. Another had an uncle, whom he was close to, die. Another’s childhood friend died. The culmination of it all for me, though, was a girl who I’ll call Kate. Many people died in her family as well (her grandmother, and father, among others – by the way, she’s only 15). She also told us that, while her dad was still alive, he was an alcoholic. In an alcohol-induced rage, he threw Kate’s pregnant mother down the stairs, permanently injuring the unborn child.
Kate, because of all of this death and destruction, said that she didn’t believe that there is a god. She said that, if God were real, then, “… he must not have any time for me.”
My heart broke. This fifteen-year-old girl has dealt with so much heartbreak and loss that it has stolen her joy – her hope – entirely.
After the discussion groups, I went over to her to talk to her. I told her that I know she said she doesn’t believe in God, but I do, and I know that He loves her and that He cares for her. I asked her if I could pray for her, and then I did – right there in the gymnasium, right before she was supposed to go to the next part of the program.
Later that day she wrote me a message, saying, “It meant a lot for me to be able to share what I did today and not keep everything all bottled up inside. … Because of you, I may be starting to believe.”
Needless to say, I cried again. God cares for each of us so much, and I fully believe that it was God’s divine and perfect plan to get me to that small town just so I could speak to this girl.
Friends, please pray for us. This is the reason I came to the Czech Republic, and this is what I am here to do. Teaching English is fine, but it’s not the most important thing going on – some people need to meet Jesus, and our heart is to make that happen. Thank you for the support and prayers – we value all of you so much! Please consider helping us to be able to cross that threshold into full-time ministry. We are about 40% of the way to being fully funded. We would need an extra $1,200 a month to be able to minister full-time. Please pray that we reach this!
Again, I want to thank you so much for your prayers and your love. Because of you, God is doing great work through us. Thank You!!!
Justin and Lucie Holden