Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
*Adult English classes--we've had 5 consistent students and they are hungry to understand the Word of God. One student specifically asked if we could begin reading the Bible together. We began in John's Gospel. One man, Dereje, was quick to say that he didn't understand anything about the context because he's never read the Bible before. He began asking questions, "who was John the Baptist", what is difference between the New and Old Testaments, What does it mean that Jesus was in the beginning with God? The best part was that the other students joined in explaining the parts they understood. One student even suggested if he wanted to learn more, he should watch the Jesus film. It was a great night. Since then Dereje has accepted a bible and agreed to begin reading on his own. He continues to be faithful and left one night, telling people on the way out that he was excited to begin studying the Bible. Also, two of the students from last year (Susan and Susan) who were so full of questions have returned in the last 2 weeks.
*Gabriela--this woman was one of my (Karen) students from last year, went to extra legnths to contact me personally so that we could continue "talking" like we did before. We met for coffee and talked in depth about where she was spiritually. She is not ready yet to accept Christ, but we continue to see each other weekly as Jessica is meeting with her daughter to help her with English. We have developed a nice friendship.
*Dasa and Petr--This couple from English camp have pursued a friendship with us. Dasa and I have been getting together weekly to go to her gym. We never see each other when she doesn't ask spiritual questions. She's reading through scripture and we discuss it over lunch. Our families have gotten together a couple of times as well. They are interested in visiting our international service at church. Petr considers himself a follower of Jesus now, Dasa is still uncertain.
*High school girls bible study has been an absolute pleasure. The group of 15 is consistent and searching for answers. Most are believers, some more firmly grounded than others, but one girl is not yet a believer and is quite honest about that. She asks great questions and has told me personally that she feels God drawing her. It's scary for her because her parents and her whole culture (she's from California) is anti-christian. She's truly having to count the cost. She hasn't told me that she's committed her life to Christ yet, but I do see changes in her countenance.
*After 2 years of trying to reach out to my neighbor, there has been a breakthrough. Twice in the past few weeks she has been crying in the hallway. Both times, either Preston or I was there and we were able to talk to her and comfort her. She hugged us both times and thanked us. It has really opened up the door for a friendship. She is elderly and very forgetful, so its kind of hard to continue conversations with her. But we are reaching out to her through and she is receiving it.
*Lubos continues to be a pleasure. He and Preston meet as often as possible, though his work schedule has been a problem lately. He's growing. Preston is considering inviting some others to join them--Petr, Dereje, and a new believer from Int.' church.
*Krystina is doing well and has continued to English Club. She has also visited church a few times with her father, Honza, who attends the adult English class. Pepa, unfortunately, has been scarce.
*The kids have all become pro-active in seeking out personal ways for God to use them. Its been so exciting to see. David has begun playing the guitarand helps lead worship at chapel and youth group. He continues to minister to the homeless in the square, although they are not an easy group to get to know, nor are they grateful. Lauren is playing drums regularly now in a worship band, youth group, chapel and in church. Jess is singing at chapel and church. They are all seeking to bring their friends to Christ. Jess is tutoring Gabriela's daughter in English which gives her opportunity to share with her. Lauren has been a big part of bringing the unbeliever at bible study (Coral) to the place she finds herself. Andrew is faithful to come to Czech church with us and participate in Sunday school and English Club to help reach out to the Czech kids around him. As grateful as we are to see how God is using the kids, its an even great blessing to see how he's at work in their personal lives. There is no greater joy.
*Last but not least, we have been asked to stay in Prague and continue in the roles (though there will be some changes) we currently serving in. We are very excited about this. We will have some new people coming here and some of our friends will be re-locating, so the changes affect us in many ways. As the new organization becomes clearer, we are excited about what God is doing.
So, there's an update...lots of reasons to praise God and lots of reasons to thank you, our prayer warriors. Please don't stop!! God is definitely doing something in the Czech Republic! We are not the only ones seeing responses. Many of our colleagues are seeing the same thing happen in their midst. One family is discipling 4 new believers and preparing them for baptism. Another girl has just given Mere Christianity to a friend and she is devouring it--after a year of witness and testimony to which she was unresponsive. Our (missionaries) kids are growing and owning their own faith, praying for kids at school and actively sharing Christ. These are exciting days!!
Saturday, September 20, 2008
English Club--Our family had a great time at English Camp in August. Eight kids from English Club came and had a wonderful time. Pepa and Krystina seemed to bond with the church kids and counselors alike. They were both at club this past Sunday for the first meeting, excited to be together again. We have new leadership this year. Please pray for David and Lauren and Jessica as they help translate and serve during this weekly ministry.
High School Girls--I have begun teaching the HS girls Bible study for the kid's international youth group. I've got about 20 girls. They are precious. They range from Mks to totally secular. There are such needs there as many are questioning their relationship with God and how to live for Christ. Several of the girls are not yet believers but are searching. Please pray for them to seek for truth with all their hearts and for me to be a good guide in leading them to it.
Adult English Classes--Preston and I both started teaching English again this past Sunday night to the parents of the English club kids. We had 5 students. All but one were returning from last year. Please pray for more to come and for these relationships lead to opportunities to share the Gospel.
Lubos--Preston is discipling a young Czech man who is a new believer. He is precious and fun to teach because he is so excited to learn. He has been spending Thursday nights with our family at dinner and then studying the Word with Preston. Jiri, our Czech friend is also joining them when he can. There is another new believer that they are going to invite to join the group. Please pray for this to be a good time of discipling and for God to bring others to join the group.
Worship Team--Both David and Lauren have taken on roles this year of being on the worship team at their youth group, church and in chapel services. David is singing and playing guitar, Lauren is playing the drums. Please pray for them to be good leaders for their peers and to stay consistent in their times with the Lord so that their worship truly comes from the heart.
Homeless ministry--David has begun going to the square near our house and giving food out to the homeless people there. Please pray for him to see a good response in this practical sharing of his faith and pray for the men and women he feeds to hunger for God.
School--Many new kids have come to the kids' school this year and many of those are unbelievers. All of the kids are aware that this is a mission field for them and are striving to be good examples and show Christ's love to their classmates. Lauren, esp., is befriending some new girls who are definitely not believers, ask a lot of questions and are genuinely curious about her faith. She is spending time with them and bringing them to Bible study. Please pray for her to be very strong in her faith as these girls will also seek to influence her. Pray for her to have much grace and to guard her heart. Pray also for insight and the ability to know how to reach these girls. Pray that her quiet times stay consistent and that she be ready to answer their questions with biblical responses.
Czech friends--we made many new friends this year at the family English Camp. Pray that we will be able to continue these relationships throughout the year.
We are excited about the ways God wants to use us this year. Thank you so much for your prayers on our behalf. Please also pray for the International Mission Board. They are making some big changes in strategy that will affect our ministries and where we live. Pray for wisdom for those in leadership and for us to have peace as we wait to hear how all of this will affect us.
We love you.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Lyle and Lauren being silly
--Time with Czechs at a family English camp. We went to help our friends who were leading the camp and it was really wonderful. The best part was that all the families are from right here in our area of Prague and we made some good relationships with them that I think will continue throughout this year. A church from Washington State came to help with the camp and they were a real blessing. Everyone's English improved and they were able to see God's love through us up close. Testimonies were shared and many spiritual matters discussed with individuals. We praise God for the opportunity. It was also great to see the kids minister to the Czech kids. They really reached out and made friends and were a blessing. Jessica wrote about it on her blog if you'd like to read more. Be sure to read the comments at the bottom because she forgot to say something in the original note. Please pray esp. for Renata and Martin, Dasha and Peter, Eva, Jitka and her daughter Anna, and Gabriella and Robert-for opportunities to build friendships with them this year and for their desire to know more about Jesus.
Walking from the train station
Jessica with her "class"
--Praying for God's glory to be known through Jesus Christ over a totally Muslim village from the minaret of the town mosque. This was during our media trip to Bulgaria. We spent 6 days travelling through the Rhodopy mountains in an ancient van that I had to drive--ugh! Quite tiring, but it was worth it when the Muslim "man of peace" in one village started asking questions about Jesus while we were standing in his mosque. Pretty cool!
Praying from the Mosque
--Seeing my two teenagers come home from their Youth Retreat after truly meeting with God and sensing His hand on their lives. This is one of the best retreats they've ever been on and we praise God for the volunteers who gave so much time and money to come and bless our kids.
Lauren and her friends worshipping together
They both wrote about their time and what God did in their lives. Read Lauren's blog and David's blog to rejoice with them.
--Preston has been meeting with a young Czech man and our friend Jiri to disciple the former in his new life in Christ. It has been a blessing to get to know him and see his passion for the Lord.
--Finally getting an all clear from the doctor. My anemia seems to have cleared up, although no one is sure why. For now, and after all sorts of procedures and tests, feel sure that I'm as healthy as anyone I know! Thank you God!
In addition to all the highs so far this summer, there have been some hard things too.
--A friend and colleague who is only 49 died suddenly last week from an embolism in her both lungs. She has daughters in high school and this happened while they were away at the youth retreat. It has been hard on our whole region. Please pray for the Tarleton family as they struggle through this loss.
--We have heard from leadership in Richmond that big changes are coming in Novemeber. None of us know what will happen but feel sure that it will directly affect us on the regional level. Jerry Rankin and the trustees are still working through the details and praying for this new direction. Please be in prayer for them as they revamp strategies to be more effective in winning people to Christ. We are at peace knowing that our future and our calling are sure.
--The kids' youth director who usually comes and leads the youth retreats was in a tragic accident and is now paralyzed from the waist down. He will no longer serve as youth director but has a real peace that God is leading and guiding him through this. Please pray for Kenny and Terri Pope.
--The dollar has continued to plummet and is really hurting all of the Americans living overseas. Prices continue to rise with entry to the European Union and we have NO buying power. It affects everything from rent to putting food on the table. Please pray for stabilization of the dollar and for us to be wise spenders.
--There have been several heart breaking tragedies among our friends and family. Strokes, car accidents, comas, emotional problems...the list goes one. Please pray for us as we minister and help and for our hope to remain fixed on Christ as we experience what it means to live in a fallen world.
--This summer, Preston has been wearing many hats at the office since he is the one left in charge with so many away. It has been a lot of work on top of his normal responsibilities. He really needs to get a lot done in the next few weeks for an upcoming training session. Please pray for the ability to do all that God has called him to do.
Lastly, please be in prayer for some things coming up:
--English camp for kids. Our team from Georgia is going to come and we praise God for that provision. Please pray for Chris, Chris and Lyle as they come to bless the kids with music and friendship. There will be 50 children there and many of these are from unbelieving families.
--School starting. In the beginning of Sept. we will start another year. It will be David's last one. *sniff* Andrew will be in American school for the first time. Please pray for all the kids as they grow in knowledge and maturity. or the things that are coming up:
Thank you all for your faithfulness in praying for us. We love you !
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
A second bit of good news is that there is a guy at our church who was recently saved. He was living in America at the time and was under some good teaching. He has moved back to Prague and is so fired up for the Lord. He and our Czech friend, Jiri, and Preston are meeting once a week to study the Bible together. We are really thrilled for this opportunity. Please pray for these three and for others to join them. Pray for continued excitement on the part of Lubos and for consistency in their times together.
Our kids' English club is finished for the year. It ended pretty well--though smaller in numbers. The good news is that 8-9 of the kids have signed up for English camp this summer. This is a Christian camp and the Gospel will be shared over and over with them. We also Praise God that He has provided a team from the States to come and lead the worship for us. Please pray for them as they prepare to come. The camp is August 16-23.
Another camp that our family will be involved with is a family camp in July. We are excited that God is filling the spots for this with Czech families that are open and eager to hear more about Jesus. Please pray for the volunteers coming for the States, the two families here that are involved, and the participants who will be there.
Exams are over for the kids tomorrow and then Summer really begins. We look forward to a week in Greece and two weeks in Georgia before our camps. We love you--thank you for your prayers.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
English clubs worst enemy is Spring. The Czech tradition is once the snow has melted, weekends are spent at the chata (country house). Getting back for Enlish on Sunday night is often not a priority. Thus, we have seen numbers dwindle since Easter. I have had no one in my class for 4 weeks. Preston has had 1-2 students out of 12, the kids numbers have been way down as well. It's disappointing, but not unexpected. Please continue to pray for my ladies. I felt led to be bold the last few times we were together, knowing that I may not have the chance again. I'm so glad I was. They have heard the truth now and I know they are thinking about all that we discussed. Please pray for us to see each other randomly this summer.
The good news is that from kids club, 9 have signed up for our annual English camp. This is a church-sponsored camp and normally there are about 50 kids. Not all are believers but many come from "christian" homes. Last year only 2 from our English club attended. 9 is a great number and that doesn't include our kids.
Also good is that we are still planning the program for this summer. We desperately need musicians and there are three young men from Georgia that are trying to come and help us out. We are very excited about the possibility, but the tickets aren't bought yet. Please pray for them as they plan and try to finance this trip. We don't have a great back-up plan if they don't come, so please pray for God's provision. Music is really important in this culture and it touches their hearts like nothing else.
I do ask for your prayers for our entire region right now. Our regional leader has resigned and it has really thrown all of us for a loop. We love him and support him in what He has done, but the circumstances leading to his resignation grieve us (disagreement over board policies). Please pray for us as we all consider the implications of his convictions as well as the board's policies. We all need direction in knowing how to glorify God in this situation. Also pray for us as a new RL is chosen. Who he is and how he leads will directly affect our ministry here in Prague. We aren't sure what the future holds.
Preston's trip to the States in April went very well. He really enjoyed his time with our first church. It was good to see old friends. He has no more trips planned until next fall!!! We are all excited about that.
School is winding down for the kids. Please pray for them to finish well. They have major Spring fever. We will travel to Greece in June for a week for our Annual General Meeting, and then home to visit in the States for a couple of weeks. In the end of July I have a media trip to Bulgaria. Please pray for me as we plan and prepare. We are creating media to recruit volunteers and churches to partner together in reaching the Pomak people, an unreached group of Muslims in the mountains of Bulgaria.
Friday, April 18, 2008
This sort of thing just doesn’t happen in the Czech Republic—called the secular capital of Eastern Europe by some. However, as droves of teams have prayer walked and missionaries have fasted and prayed for breakthrough, God has begun doing something amazing.
Jiri Bohacek is a native church planter in Prague who is trying to reach people with the Gospel through adult English classes. Karen, leader of the advanced conversation group, shared that the women in her class are initiating discussions on spiritual matters and asking a lot of questions.
“I was explaining about Jesus’ resurrection but had to stop half-way through because we ran out of time—and it was an hour-and-a-half class.” Karen said. “When we started talking about Jesus being the only way to God, the discussion really got lively.”
Jiri is excited about this new openness to spiritual matters among his people.
“A few years ago when we were trying to reach people through a bible discussion group, they were totally uninterested in spiritual things, and I was so discouraged,” Jiri said. “But now, God is doing big things in peoples’ hearts. It is so fantastic. I am sure our prayers are being answered.”
Harold Johnson, a missionary in Eastern Czech Republic, gave out flyers around Christmas offering a New Testament CD and a pocket-size New Testament. Over 130 Czechs responded asking for Bibles and CD’s, and many even wrote letters of thanks. Steve Warren, Strategy Coordinator for the city of Prague launched a new evangelistic website and received over 1000 hits in January alone with multiple downloads.
Larry and Melissa Lewis, new missionaries to the Czech Republic, shared the meaning of Easter with their language teacher, Michaela, through Resurrection Eggs*. She was overwhelmed. “I’ve never heard this before,” she said. Michaela took the eggs home to share them with her 10-year-old son, who immediately took them to school to share them with his teacher, who had told the class that there is no God. “I have to tell my teacher,” the boy said, “she must not know about Jesus.”
Radka, a Czech believer, says that Czechs were infatuated with freedom after the fall of communism, but it has failed to satisfy them, so they are now looking for something to fill their emptiness.
“I think this is a new time for the Czech people,” she said. “I feel it. God is doing something.”
Steve and April met a girl in the park last year and invited her to house church. She refused. They saw her recently and again, she feigned disinterest in God. This time, Steve challenged her. “I think you are,” he said. Sheepishly she admitted that the week before, she had purchased her first Bible.
Please continue to pray for Czech hearts to be open and discerning. There are many false religions being proclaimed as well as the Gospel. With their new interest in spiritual things some people are being misled. For more information on joining the ministry in the Czech Republic visit hope4cee.org/Czech Republic.
Friday, April 11, 2008
April 11, 2008
Evangelism is often referred to as “plowing concrete” in the Czech Republic (CR) because hearts are hard and unreceptive to the Gospel. However, in Olomouc, CR, missionaries Steve and April Brown, the concrete is beginning to break. In fact at their weekly bible study, where unbelieving visitors are coming regularly, a professing atheist recently said that she knows that Jesus is the only way to God, she just doesn’t want to believe it.
“This is huge,” Steve said. “You can see the Word of God moving in their hearts.”
This bible study began over a year ago and still no one has repented and followed Christ, but the people continue to come back and bring their friends, even when they vehemently disagree with what the Bible says.
One of the regular attendees is a girl named Lucie. She met April in the park and a week later joined her for coffee and a talk. Within minutes of arriving Lucie shared with April about her involvement in the occult. April told her about the truth of Jesus. Within two days Lucie was at April’s door.
“She called and asked if she could come over and talk,” Steve said. “For three hours she asked questions about God, salvation and the Bible.”
Lucie regularly attends Bible study.
In the Park
At Easter, Steve and April hosted their annual Easter egg hunt in park close to their house. A woman they had met a year ago, also named Lucie, passed by and they struck up a conversation. She knew about their Bible studies and had never shown interest in coming, but she asked if they were seeing fruit from their efforts. As Steve told her about some things God was doing, she commented that she was just not into the “God thing.” When Steve challenged her comment, Lucie sheepishly confessed that she had, indeed, bought her first Bible the day before.
“I about fell over,” Steve said. “She admitted that she wanted to know about God and thought the Bible might be a good place to start.”
Lucie heard the Gospel message that day and is now interested in attending Steve and April’s Bible study.
On the Right Track
Steve was recently on a train, sitting in a cabin with two Czech men, when another amazing opportunity fell into his lap.
“No sooner did the train pull away from the station than the guy sitting next to me pulled out a New Testament and began reading it,” he said. “Then the man sitting to my left pulled his Bible out and began reading it. At one point all 3 of us were reading our Bibles.”
When Steve asked Jakub, the young man sitting across from him, why he was reading the Bible, he said it was because he wanted to know about Jesus. The second man was already a believer, so together, he and Steve told Jakub about Jesus.
“I may never see Jakub again,” Steve said, “but I trust the Lord to work through His word.”
For His Glory
What Steve and April are experiencing is not isolated. Other missionaries living and working in CR are also seeing fruit for the first time. English classes are serving as discussion times for spiritual topics, Bibles are being readily accepted and evangelistic websites are getting hits. One missionary in Prague was able to share the entire Gospel with her English class in response to questions that the students had initiated.
God’s movement in a country that has been so unresponsive is inspiring and energizing the missionaries laboring there. They need your prayers and involvement to capitalize on this time. To find out how you can be a part of Steve and April’s ministry, visit their website. To discover all that God is doing in the Czech Republic, click here.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
At one point, Gabriela stopped me mid-sentence and said, "I have a question... so you're saying that the only way to get to God is through Jesus?"
"Yes," I answered.
"Well, what if I don't know Jesus, then what happens to me?"
"Well, you can't know God unless you come to Him through Jesus," I said.
"No, but, what actually happens to me if I die without knowing Jesus?" she asked.
"Well...you go to Hell," I said reluctantly.
She accepted this, but surprisingly protests came from the other side of the table.
Suzanna is the only one of the group that attends church --Catholic Church-- and she said that Jesus wasn't the only way.
I told her that the Bible said differently. She said the Bible and Jesus were secondary to God and weren't necessary to get to Him.
"I will find my own way to God," she said.
Suzanna believes in Jesus, but also believes in Mohammad and Buddah--and she's the one who goes to church. The others are just as confused.
Suzanna #2 says that her path to God is nature. Ivana was telling her that she saw problems with that when Suzanna asked her what her path to God was.
"I don't have a path to God yet," Ivana said.
So this is where my ladies are spiritually. Please pray for them. I think Ivana and Gabriela are really hungry for truth. The two Suzannas are more ambivalent and skeptical. After class, all said they were looking forward to coming again after Easter to continue our discussion. Please pray for God to speak to their hearts over this holiday celebrating His resurrection.
Preston is gone this week in Budapest. He is teaching a course on Systematic Theology. When I asked him how he was yesterday, he responded, "I'm great, I'm teaching!"
He loves to teach theology and the opportunity to do that this week is a real blessing. His trip to Portugal last month was wonderful. He met with church planters throughout Europe and they shared their successes and struggles. It was a really good time of fellowwhip and learning. The Ebenezer and SC Training conferences that took place before Portugal were very well received. God provided a great learning environment and seemed to be at work in our midst.
Though Preston has been gone a lot, we did manage to sneak away with the family last week to go skiing/snowboarding for a few day. We are so grateful to the Lord for providing for the trip through finances, a great place to stay and even snowy weather (which was surprising since we've had an early Spring!) The family time was so good, even though we were a little sore. You know its been a good trip when your 17-year-old says, "Wow, that was so great--I wish we could spend more time together like that!"
Friday, January 18, 2008
As we began English classes last week, we were excited that 11 people signed up for this session. We had advertised it on the web and through flyers. We had said that we would teach Beginner and Intermediate English and use Bible stories to practice what we learned.
One man showed up with a bad attitude. He wouldn't sign up because he wanted to "check it out" first and make sure we weren't going to push the Bible on him.
"If you teach me English,that's good, but if you start reading the bible to me, I'm leaving," he said. "I'm an atheist and I'm happy being an atheist."
Since he was in the beginner class, there wasn't any bible reading on the first night because they aren't able to understand well enough to do that yet. The lesson was basically simple English.
As he left he said, "So why didn't you read out of the Bible? Are you going to use the Bible?"
Our Czech colleague was intrigued by him and said, "Why, do you want us to read the Bible to you?"
Though it was a question asked lightly, we all wondered later if he was protesting about hearing the truth a little too loudly. Since we advertised that we would indeed use the Bible, why did this man come to "check us out" if he was so opposed to hearing the truth. We're thinking he's hungry for something and that maybe he isn't so happy being an atheist after all. Please pray for this man, Mirek, and for the other students as we begin another session.
In the intermediate class we are using bible stories from the beginning. Right now our students are Honza, Honza and Katerina. Please pray for the truth to sink into their hearts and make them hunger for more. Please also pray for the relationships that we will build with them--that they will be a bridge to their salvation.
Along with English, the next month will be full of training events that will keep Preston hopping. Being an introvert, these conferences always leave him pretty drained. Beginning Feb 27 we will have the Ebenezer conference. This is for our first term missionaries. They come to Prague and have opportunity to de-brief their first year on the field. We have found that it is a vital part of their longevity as it helps them to process the stress of cross-cultural living as well as the inevitable spiritual battles they face. This conference is the one I speak at as well. I will have 2-3 sessions and always spend the rest of the conference just trying to be a good sounding board for the folks, ladies imparticular. This conference will be especially challenging as many of the folks are actually living here in Prauge and I know them very well. It is one things to talk to folks who see you once a year and quite another to talk to those who walk and talk with you daily. Please pray for all of those who will come and for us as we lead.
Immediately following this is Strategy Coordinator Training. This is the biggest training event of the year as it trains our key personnel to reach their particular people group. Preston will be facilitating and teaching and counseling and advising and so forth. The families come with kids and stay for 31/2 weeks. It is an intense time. Please pray for participants, families, children, and volunteer child-care workers.
Thank you for your prayers. We serve a mighty God.