Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Fall Conference 2016 - Inspire

At Fall Conference this year the theme was “Inspire” and it was about movements that change the world. Our two big questions for the week were: what is a movement? And how can I join it? 

There were three movements of God we looked at throughout the week - the movement we see in Acts, the movement of the Moravians, and the movement today. And there were three significant points that we looked at in each of the movements - at the beginning, at the end of the first generation, and 100 years later. 

With the Moravians the beginning was in 1727, when revival broke out in the community of 400 at Hernhutt. By the end of that first generation John Wesley (who preached 40000 sermons) and George Whitfield (who was heard by 10 million people) had been converted, and the Moravians had translated the Bible into fifteen languages (before them the Bible was only in 35 languages). They started in the little corner of the Czech Republic that I call home and sent missionaries around the world, to unknown places.

And the truth is we are just at the beginning of seeing a new movement of God in central and eastern Europe. So we spent time sharing about what God is currently doing - and asking and praying about what we’ll see at the end of our generation, and what we’ll see one hundred years from now.

On the Tuesday of the conference we went, all 350 of us, on a field trip! We toured around three places in our region that were significant in the Moravian movement. It was incredible to listen to Dave sharing stories (via an audio tour app) about what God did in those places and with the people from those places! And one of the places was the Jesus Church on the Polish side of my town so it was good to learn more about it too! You can listen to the audio of the tour here.

Throughout the week we looked at how we can burn bright for God, through: 
  • unexpected obedience - listening to God and being quick to obey
  • staying clean - pursuing holiness, being quick to repent, sacrifice 
  • standing against darkness
  • going public with bold proclamations of faith
  • singing in suffering
  • radical evangelism

And we looked at what is necessary for us to burn long:
  • solve problems and deal with sickness and threats 
  • have healthy rhythms and healthy structures
  • leaders staying close to Jesus

We also had a lot of processing time built into the conference, to look at areas in our own lives and ministries that need to be brought under Christ again, and what God is asking us to do. And it was incredible to hear beautiful stories of how God is at work throughout this part of the world. 

If you would like to listen to the audio or see more photos from the week you can do so here.

In the last talk of the conference we were encouraged that we already know what we need to do - but we need to have courage to consistently do what we know we should do. And we were encouraged to not look for next steps that cost nothing - it’s going to cost something, but it will be worth it.

Please pray for all 350 people who were at the conference - pray that we would have the courage to listen to God, and quickly obey, and that we would burn bright and burn long for Jesus in central and eastern Europe.  

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Fall Camp Meeting 2016

Before Fall Conference each year we gather as a camp team to look back and rejoice at how God has been at work through camps in the last year, and look forward and plan and dream for the year and years ahead. 

This year the group was intentionally smaller, with primarily just the camp directors and intern directors from each country. So it felt a little like the United Nations, with us all sitting around a big table. 

It was beautiful to hear stories about how God has been at work in these nations through camps - local churches we partner with being strengthened, young people hearing the gospel and responding to it, and then growing in Christ and becoming leaders! This year we also had a lot more interns and short term team members serving in this movement. 

We also spent time planning for the year ahead, releasing and talking through new tools and praying. These are some of my favourite people, so it was also good to spend time together and catch up with what is going on in our lives. 

We are praying that God continues to use camps as a way to strengthen His church in central and eastern Europe, and it is such a joy to serve this ministry! 

Monday, 19 September 2016

Fall Conference Begins!

Tonight Fall Conference began! The above photo shows the sound check and thirty minutes later the seats were filled with 350 leaders from across central and eastern Europe! 

The theme of the conference is Inspire and we're going to be spending the week looking at three movements of God - in Acts, in the Moravian movement, and today. 

As we study these movements we'll be asking two questions - what is a movement of God and how can I join it?

I'm so excited to be here this week, and even worshipping alongside these brothers and sisters who are serving in these nations. 

Would you please join us in prayer this week - that we would be filled with faith as we look to the harvest fields around us and so excited to see God move in a mighty way? 

If you are a Facebook user you can also join us as we're live streaming the evening sessions each night. So, 7-9pm Czech time you can join us by going to the Josiah Venture Facebook page and catching the live stream. 

Friday, 5 August 2016

The summer in one photo!

I feel like this photo sums up my summer in so many ways. It was taken in Dresden train station as I waited for the third of four trains as I travelled from camp in Germany home to Český Těšín. 

Chacos are definitely my footwear of choice in the summer. That white tote bag on my shoulder was bought at an Old Navy store in 2008 when I was in Colorado. And, of course, there's often a cup of coffee in my hand with long days spent at camp or travelling.

This summer from travelling to the Amazing Race to the end of my trip to Germany I was gone from home thirty-three of fifty-seven days. I was in eight countries (Czech, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Germany), completed an intensive Czech course, and was at our first camps in Croatia and Germany.

It still blows my mind that this is what I get to do - to travel to countries and serve what God is doing in these nations. I receive a lot of the prayer updates from our European interns and it's been a delight to read them this summer and to get little glimpses of how God is at work in this part of the world.

It's not all glamorous or exciting - during the train journey I was waiting for I shared a compartment with a girl who coughed and sneezed the entire time, and I got sick afterwards. There are long days where things start at 7am and continue until midnight. 

But it is such a privilege to see God at work - and that doesn't begin or end in the summer, and I'm excited to continue to hear what He is doing in these nations as camps finish for the year, and the work of discipling new believers and getting them plugged into local churches begins!

Monday, 25 July 2016

Our First Camp in Germany!

In the third week of July there were fifteen camps happening around JV - including this one, our first camp in Germany! 

I travelled to Germany as part of my role is to serve our new countries as they begin camps, and it was a deep joy to be at camp during the week. It was so good to catch up with our two interns there, and serve alongside our dear missionaries. 

Germany has some unique challenges compared to our other countries - we're learning how to navigate different levels of wealth, inconsistent school holiday dates, and much shorter summer breaks for students.

But there is a lot that is the same for camps in Germany - we're still partnering with a local church, building relationships with students, and inviting them to hear the gospel and respond to it with their whole lives. We still play lots of games, and teach English or music workshops or a sport, and spend meals talking and laughing. 

It is such a privilege to be with students as they process what they hear during the week - whether they are non-Christians, hearing and wrestling with these topics for the very first time, or believers, who are being drawn deeper into God's movement, and closer to Christ, and to a greater understanding of their responsibility to be witnesses to what God has done for us.

I am so glad I could be in Germany for their first camp! I'm praying that God would go before us in a mighty way in this country and that many would come to know Jesus as their Saviour.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Czech Class!

This summer I spent the first two weeks of July doing a Czech intensive in Prague. I definitely felt like I've hit a bit of a plateau in my language learning, which is completely normal at this stage. But I also have a really irregular schedule and with travelling so much this year I hadn't spent as much time learning Czech as normal. 

So it was really good to be able to take two weeks to focus on language learning! I was in a class with just four others and we all tested to the same level. All of us came from different native languages so we each had unique weaker points in the language - for example, the Russian lady found the declination of the cases a lot easier because she understands how those work, whereas I generally just feel a little lost with them. However, my vocabulary felt a lot stronger because, unlike everyone else in the class, I do not live in Prague and so I'm forced to use Czech in my everyday life (which I see as a very good thing!)

This was my view, minus my teacher, most days for the three hours of classes. 

Language school is always really tiring and although I was in Prague the classes and homework and added tiredness meant I didn't see many people I know there, and I didn't even make it up to the castle. But it was nice to enjoy eating Mexican food, and other little luxuries that haven't made it out to where I live just yet. 

As the course ended I left feeling more confident in my Czech and I also found that I am finally starting to understand some of the cases! I long for the day when I am fluent in Czech - when I can share my heart with my neighbour, and be funny in conversations. But for now I'm really encouraged by my progress and excited to continue to see glimpses of progress as I'm faithful to study and speak this language! 

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Camp in Croatia!

In the third week of June I went down to Croatia! After a few years of not having missionaries there, we were re-launching camps this year. It was a long drive, broken up with an overnight with some missionary friends in Slovenia. But within ten minutes of arriving in Split I was walking along this little beach - which was a great reward for the drive! 

I was in Split to see where our missionaries live and serve, and to see their short term team orientation. When the short term team arrived we spent some time touring Split, and hearing the history of this place, which was fascinating and gave us insights into the culture that really impacts how we share the Gospel. 

The rest of the day was spent in the little church building in Split - I'm taking the photo from the back of the church - I think there are 20-30 seats in the church. I loved hearing John and Mladen share their heart and vision for the country of Croatia. It often happens when I travel, but I was definitely ready to stay! (And, after my car got towed away from camp, staying was definitely looking like a possibility!)

We also spent time in training on the various aspects of camp like leading small groups, sharing the Gospel, and I gave some tips on how to teach English. 

The theme for camps this year was "Did you get my message?" And the talks looked at stories from creation to the cross that showed the redemptive arc of Scripture. Above we have John giving the talks and Mladen translating. 

The team found out just a couple of days before camp that they had to wash the dishes after each meal. So this was my view on many days, as I much preferred freeing our full time staff and the short term team up to connect with students. It's a joy to get to travel to camps and serve in whatever capacity I'm needed once I get there! 

It was Euro time and one night at camp we watched Croatia play - and, though it was rather nail biting, they won! 

Camp was an incredible experience for these students and it was a joy to see them become more confident in their English, and process the stories and what the implications were for their lives. 

The camp was kind of in the middle of nowhere but beside this beautiful church. 

On the last night of camp students went through a labyrinth - a series of multi sensory stations designed to help them process what they learnt during the week. 

And then there was a bonfire to close out camp well!

I am so glad I could be in Croatia as we re-launched camps there! It was a joy to spend the week with Croatian students and our team there and I really think we'll look back at this week and see that God started something really cool during this time. 

(And for those of you wondering, I got my car back on Thursday and managed to drive it the 11 hours home without any incidents - except for all the road works that made it turned an 8 hour journey into 11 hours!)