Monday, 21 November 2016

Edge Sports {video}

Josiah Venture - EDGE Sports Ministry from Josiah Venture on Vimeo.

I first posted about Edge over three years ago, right when it was beginning. Today between three and four hundred young people are involved with Edge! They are meeting regularly to practice their sport (mainly football or floorball) and play in tournaments against other teams. And these teams are all based in local churches, with the goal of them being half believers and half unbelievers. As young people meet to practice or play they are hearing the gospel and how the truth of God's word can and should change their lives.

I hope you enjoy seeing glimpses of this ministry in the video above - and would you join me in praying that God does amazing things as Edge Sports continues to grow? 

Monday, 14 November 2016

Camps {video}

Josiah Venture - Camps Ministry from Josiah Venture on Vimeo.

I did my first camp with Josiah Venture in 2007, when I was eighteen years old. I had no idea what that two week trip would lead to. After four short term trips and an internship, I became a full-time missionary, with the role of serving our international camps ministry full time. 

I have seen camps have a lasting impact on individuals, youth groups, churches, and countries as young people hear the gospel, respond to it, get discipled by the local church and become leaders in their contexts and countries. 

This summer we did over one hundred camps, in thirteen countries, and we're praying that we're just seeing the beginning of God moving through this region.

I love how this video captures camps - I get excited each time I watch it! I hope you enjoy it too.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Celebrating the seasons (with cake)

I'm a big believer in celebrating things with cakes. In late March each year, when I've successfully gone to three offices in two towns to file my taxes, and successfully navigated all those conversations in Czech, I celebrate with cake. I celebrated three years of living in the Czech Republic in June with cake. And last night I celebrated my twenty-eighth birthday with cake - cake with a picture of a cat on top, no less.

There's just something about celebrating the different seasons of life and the good things they hold. 

Each year in late April or early May there comes a day when I go outside and things feel different. It smells like summer. I first came to the Czech Republic in 2007 to serve at an English camp, and I spent at least two weeks here for five summers, but it wasn't until I moved in 2013 that I experienced any Czech season other than summer. 

And so I joke that summer is when I fell in love with the Czech Republic. It's also one of the busier seasons in my work-life, filled with travelling to different countries and camps. It's the season when I see the fruit of the rest of the year up close - camps happen, students hear the gospel, and interns are serving alongside us. So, summer is when I remember the Czech that was my first love. 

But then September starts and something lovely happens. Life ceases to be about an unpacking-laundry-packing loop and instead I settle into some autumnal rhythms. This year when I returned to my gym after all the summer travelling the women asked me where I'd been and said that they'd missed me. And it's so good to return to regular church attendance and sing worship songs in Czech, Slovak and Polish. 

Now it's November, I have winter tyres on my car and most mornings are frosty. The dark nights arrive early and I find myself drinking more tea and reading more books. We're still waiting for the first proper snowfall and I'm wondering if my fourth winter here maybe means it's time to buy a snow shovel.

At the end of this month I'll put on some Christmas music as a soundtrack for decorating my little flat for the season and sometime after January 6th it'll all get packed away again. Although, I might leave some fairy lights up because January just feels long, and spring will be far off for another couple of months.

I am so thankful for all the ways the rhythms of this life here have become normal. I know when my winter tyres need to go on, when they can come off, and where to get that done. I've learnt that minus fifteen degrees in Czech doesn't seem as cold as minus five in Northern Ireland (a combination of a better coat and less wind). Going to the post office no longer scares me because I can communicate there now.

I was chatting to my next door neighbour last month as she did my eyebrows (she's a beautician so that's a less weird sentence than you'd think). She only speaks Czech and we were chatting about what plans we had for the week. I talked about a wedding I was going to and she said "I'm so glad you have friends here." 

The meaning gets a little lost in English because there are different words for friends in Czech - she wasn't talking about friends you say hi to on the street, or Facebook friends, but close friends. And it reminded me to be grateful for the fact that that is true. I know people here and am known by them - across languages and cultures. 

I am so grateful for forty months of calling this place home. I am so grateful for the many, many good gifts from God - friends, learning to communicate in another language, walks by the river... And I am so grateful that I can reflect on these good gifts and sweet seasons with cake. 

Friday, 28 October 2016

Church weekend

At the beginning of October we had our church family weekend. The theme for our time was God's family.

Throughout the weekend various people from our church were interviewed so everyone could get to know them better. We had lots of free time which also allowed us to spend time together, and get to know people more. 

We had a guest speaker for the weekend who leads a children's ministry called Awana for the Czech Republic. One member of the church translated for Casey, Kristin and I - which we were very grateful for because some of the topics were quite complex, and sometimes it was Polish being spoken from the front rather than Czech. 

For example, we sing a lot in Polish. I'm really thankful for the various people who led us in worship during the weekend! And I'm thankful that, despite not studying Polish, I can usually follow the songs well enough to sing along.

I am so thankful for my church family here in Czech! I'm thankful that I am now at a point where I can build relationships in the Czech language - that even with my terrible grammar, people are willing to figure out what I'm trying to communicate, and to repeat themselves when I don't understand. 

And I'm thankful for the glimpses of heaven when people unite across languages and cultures, love each other, and worship God. 

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.