Friday, 20 October 2017

Today and Tomorrow in Czech



Today and tomorrow people across Czech are voting for who will represent them in the lower house of the Czech parliament. This means today people are picking the two hundred people who will be in government for the next four years.

It's been interesting to see the advertisements, posters, and flyers, that have appeared everywhere - along roads and in my letterbox. The last time there were elections I didn't understand any of the words but now I understand more. Although I still have a lot to learn about the government here and the thirty-one parties that run in the elections, and the ten main parties.

We know that it is ultimately God who is sovereign over all - from the President and Prime Minister, to the people who serve in the government offices in my little border town (where the voting lists, above, are printed in both Czech and Polish). And I'm thankful to live in a country where people can choose who is in power, especially as that has not always been true here. 

Would you please join me in praying for these elections and their results? That God would powerfully use whoever ends up in power, not for their glory but for His? Czech normally scores higher in corruption scales compared with other European countries, so please pray that all those in government would be people of integrity who will serve the country well. 

"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. " 1 Timothy 2 v 1-4

If you're interested the New York Times have an article about the Czech elections that you can read here.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

An autumn day in Czech




It’s autumn here - the leaves are falling, “buy new winter tyres” is on my to-do list, and my desire to have heating is growing bigger than my lack of desire to learn how to use my new thermostat. This is my fifth autumn here and that feels strange because time seems to go by so quickly and so slowly at the same time. I’m currently also gearing up for my second home assignment, and being in Northern Ireland for November and December. 

On Thursday someone asked me where I call home - as I plan on heading back to NI am I saying I’m going home? The truth is that yes - Northern Ireland is where I grew up, and where my family live. I have twenty-four years of memories living there and, although my accent doesn’t always betray it, it’s home.

But the other truth is here is also home. I fly home whether I’m on an Easyjet flight heading east or west. Czech is home in both deeper and shallower ways than Northern Ireland is home. Northern Ireland is home because that’s where I was born and grew up. Northern Ireland has shaped me in deep ways, ways I can’t even communicate and sometimes don’t even know. Czech is home because I chose and choose to obey God and His deep and beautiful call on my life that has me here. Czech is my home not because I understand everything that happens but even though I decidedly don’t understand everything.

Yesterday I ran some errands around town. I bumped into someone from church. And the lady who works at the car insurance place greeted me when she saw me through the window. I was able to accomplish all my errands - and even some not on today’s list - all in a second language, and even solving problems met along the way.

I bought a beautiful bunch of flowers and I carried them home upside down. I didn’t even have to think about it - here flowers are carried by gripping the stem and carrying them upside down. I’d never done it that way before I moved here but now it makes sense.

None of this is remarkable or weird or scary any more. Sure, the post office still drives me a little crazy but that’s only because there is no observable, obvious, queuing system. But going to the post office no longer an errand that freaks me out or I need to psych myself up for. 

So, I’m excited for this month of soaking up autumn in Czech, at home with lots of my normal rhythms and routines. And I’m excited to head home at the end of the month to catch up with dear people and share the stories of what God is doing in this place. 

Monday, 28 August 2017

Camps happening this week - 28th August

These posts are happening each Monday this summer to invite you to pray with us for the camps happening this week! 

This week the camps that are happening are:



  • one in Bulgaria
If you'd like to get a feel for our camps check out this video:



This summer we will have a total of one hundred and twenty two camps across our thirteen countries! We have one hundred and five interns serving with us for three months, and over one thousand people serving on short term teams. For each camp, we'll be partnering with a local church to put on an English, sports, European, or music camp. And young people from the town, city, or area will be invited to come along, to learn English or grow in their football skills, or perform in a rock-pop choir, and they'll hear the Gospel and be invited to respond. 

The theme for our camps this year is SEEN and we'll spend the week looking at how people are seen by Jesus. Each night we will look at a different encounter Jesus has with someone in the Bible and what that tells us about him, and about us. We're praying boldly that eight hundred and fifty young people will put their faith in Jesus this year. And we're praying that they, and the others at camp, will get plugged into the local church where they'll be discipled to be disciples who make disciples who make disciples. 

Please pray with us for the camps that are happening this week - 


  • for the local church: that they will build relationships with young people from their community and share the Gospel, and that they'll be able to follow up with these students well
  • for the interns and short term teams: that God will use them powerfully as they serve the local churches here, and that God would call some of them to this ministry full time!
  • for students: that God would powerfully draw many to themselves, and that when they go home they would be excited about growing in Christ.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

The craziest and sweetest gift in Bulgaria


Part of my role is supporting our newer countries as they begin to do camps, and this was the first short term team Bulgaria had had, even though they've been doing camps for years using interns and staff. So I wanted to go to Bulgaria and cheer them on as they did their first short term team training. 

It was quite a coincidence that their first team happened to be from Northern Ireland! I started to joke that the reason I was heading to Bulgaria was to translate between Northern Irish English and American English... which actually turned out to be part of my role there. It was so good for my soul to soak in and speak Northern Irish for a week - it definitely is its own little language and I forget how many words are unique to the little country I'm from. As I heard about the team beforehand I hadn't heard of the ministry they were coming with, and none of their names sounded familiar so I assumed I didn't know any of them.

Well, after a bit of a rush at the airport and safely making our bus to Velingrad I was sitting beside the team leader and we started to do that Northern Irish thing where you figure out all your mutual connections - especially as he lives five miles from where I'm from, and we are part of the same denomination. 

There were many little connections and mutual friends and then Ray said that he had spoken at a youth rally in my church when James was the pastor. James was the pastor from when I was around ten years old until I was twenty-two so it felt likely that I'd have heard of the event so I asked what the name of it was. He said it was called Star Wars. 

And there, on that little bus, on a little mountain road in Bulgaria, I told Ray that that was the event where I accepted Christ fourteen years ago. I had grown up in the church, and heard all the stories, but there was something about the combination of hearing testimonies of my school friends and a clear gospel presentation that made it all click that night. 

I didn't know the name of the speaker that night, but once we'd made the connection I realised why Ray had seemed familiar. It was so strange and so sweet to be sitting together all these years later telling the story of what God did then and just pieces of what he has done since. It felt like a little foreshadow of heaven, when I imagine we'll praise God by telling in full the stories that we only see glimpses of here on earth.

As I left Bulgaria later that week, and as camp season finishes up here for another year, I left so encouraged by this little interaction. The gospel has been powerfully proclaimed this summer, and many have responded in faith. My prayer is that we'll see these young people get plugged into local churches where they will grow in their faith and change their nations for Christ. 

And who knows what stories we'll be telling fourteen years from now?

Monday, 21 August 2017

How to pray for camps this week - 21st August


There is just one more camp for this summer! So you'll see that post appear next Monday. Thank you for faithfully praying your way through these last couple of months by following these posts.

Please continue to pray for the follow up as local churches continue to do all the work that comes after camp. Please pray that especially as school starts in just a couple of weeks that young people would continue to go to youth group, Bible studies, and church. We read in the Parable of the Sower about those who hear the word of God and receive it with joy but then without a root they fall away when testing comes. There are also those who respond to the gospel but are "choked by the cares, and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature." We see both these responses happen as "real life" begins again after summer, and school schedules are demanding, and peers and parents aren't sure about this new church thing.

Please join us in praying that those who responded in faith this summer would be like the seed that falls on good soil - they hear the word, hold fast to "in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience." May these nations be changed as young people mature in Christ and bear fruit that yields thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Seeing Dunkirk in Český Těšín


I'm not sure if I've told you about the little cinema in my town, but it may be one of my favourite places here. You see, it's run by an older couple and has these old wooden chairs. I've been to showings that have had just two other people there before and I think the biggest audience I've ever been a part of there was around twenty, and there were at least ten of us as we went to see the new hero movie that had somehow been shown in Český Těšín before anywhere else.

And that is the strange dichotomy of this little cinema - sometimes they'll have the latest movies, although only for a day or two, and other times they'll show movies that came out twenty years ago. There's no arranged seating, which is unusual for Czech, and there's no concession stand either. So you should absolutely bring your own snacks and drinks to enjoy. And I love that I live just a couple of minutes' walk away, rather than needing to drive thirty minutes or so (in Czech or across to Poland) to see a movie.

But my favourite thing about the cinema is definitely the couple that run it. You see, you also get their opinion about your movie choice when you go. I went to see the children's movie Brave there with Kristin and her boys, and afterwards the man wanted to know if we'd understood any of the Czech movie (children's movies are often dubbed, whereas other movies usually have the English with Czech subtitles).

When I went to see Dunkirk I went alone, because I'm an introvert who was enjoying a quiet evening when a lot of people were out of town. And the lady wasn't sure this was a movie I should see on my own, warning me that "It's a war movie, you know? A big war movie." I reassured her that I knew that, and thirty seconds later, her husband asked me a similar question as he checked and perforated my ticket and collected the stub, even though I was less than three metres from where he saw me purchase it.

We chatted as he escorted me to the only screen, and he told me I wouldn't like this movie but that I could sit wherever I wanted - especially as I was the third member of the audience that evening. In our conversation my accent definitely came through and he asked where I was from - when I told him he exclaimed "Aha! Držím palce." That literally means, "I hold my thumbs" but more accurately translates as "I'll keep my fingers crossed" in English. After the movie was over, and the audience of five people filtered out, he wanted to know what I thought, and why I lived in this little border town. 

Dunkirk itself? It was incredible - how the story involves without much dialogue, but so much of the feeling is conveyed so beautifully by the music. I also really enjoyed some of the actors involved - especially Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy and Kenneth Branagh. But more than all of those elements it was incredible because of the story it told. When they couldn't get home, home came to rescue them. And in that good story we hear beautiful echoes of the greatest story ever told. 


Monday, 14 August 2017

Camps happening this week - 14th August

These posts are happening each Monday this summer to invite you to pray with us for the camps happening this week! 

This week the camps that are happening are:



  • one in Germany
  • one in Romania
If you'd like to get a feel for our camps check out this video:



This summer we will have a total of one hundred and twenty two camps across our thirteen countries! We have one hundred and five interns serving with us for three months, and over one thousand people serving on short term teams. For each camp, we'll be partnering with a local church to put on an English, sports, European, or music camp. And young people from the town, city, or area will be invited to come along, to learn English or grow in their football skills, or perform in a rock-pop choir, and they'll hear the Gospel and be invited to respond. 

The theme for our camps this year is SEEN and we'll spend the week looking at how people are seen by Jesus. Each night we will look at a different encounter Jesus has with someone in the Bible and what that tells us about him, and about us. We're praying boldly that eight hundred and fifty young people will put their faith in Jesus this year. And we're praying that they, and the others at camp, will get plugged into the local church where they'll be discipled to be disciples who make disciples who make disciples. 

Please pray with us for the camps that are happening this week - 


  • for the local church: that they will build relationships with young people from their community and share the Gospel, and that they'll be able to follow up with these students well
  • for the interns and short term teams: that God will use them powerfully as they serve the local churches here, and that God would call some of them to this ministry full time!
  • for students: that God would powerfully draw many to themselves, and that when they go home they would be excited about growing in Christ.