Hello Church Family! Here are some thoughts and reflections from the recent trip to Czech!
From Alex Florea:
In the Czech, I was reminded of how important it is, as a believer, to be "on mission" for Christ. To be "on mission" is to take advantage of every opportunity to share the gospel with someone who is not a Christian. The Gospel is good news because it teaches us that, in spite of our sin, God made a way for us to have a relationship with Him through Jesus. So many times in my life, I don't think about how important this message is. If I truly believed that a relationship with God is greater than any other thing this life has to offer, I would share my faith with others more often... and take advantage of every opportunity to do so.
Halfway through our English camp, I realized how much time and effort our whole team had put into planning and fundraising. It took nearly 6 months of preparation and over $14,000 for our entire team to travel to the Czech Republic. Why spend so much time and energy? I knew it was all for the purpose of proclaiming the Good News, and to impact student's lives for eternity. It wasn't about playing silly games, having fun at English Camp, or experiencing a different culture. The purpose of our trip was much much greater than that, and I felt a sense of urgency to make the most of our time there.
As I thought about wanting to make an impact and wanting our time to count in the Czech, I was convicted by the fact that I often don't have this perspective at home. I may not be in a foreign country, but I am still called to be on mission every day as a believer. My time in the Czech reminded me that my relationship with God should matter more than anything else in my life, and that sharing these truths with others should be the most important message I have to offer others.
Another thing I experienced in the Czech was to see that when we are obedient to God, He blesses that obedience with fruit. Our team had the privilege of making an impact on 6 students who gave their lives to Christ that week. Praise God that He used us! And He can use all of us... we just must be willing to follow Him and be willing to share the Good News with those around us.
Thanks again for all of your support that made our trip possible!
From Scott Biehler
Well I definitely learned a lot about Czechs and their culture seeing as I didn't know anything before hand. But I was definitely stretched in the fact that I have never had a language barrier before. It was also a great challenge to keep the gospel at the center because I love camp and want to be a camp everyday, that it's easy for me to just have fun and let other people have fun. But simply having fun sends people to hell. So God had me continually weak so that His gospel has all the strength. I also have wanted to move out of America because there are so many things I see wrong here. But I saw that sin is universal and whenever I move I will see the same problem just on different forms.
From Scott Hubbard:
For the second year in a row, I got back home from the Czech trip with my expectations for the English camp greatly exceeded. Throughout the year between my first trip and this one, I thought back on my time at camp often and with fondness, but somehow I got on the plane this year without the same passion and excitement I left with the previous year. Once we were there, however, it didn't take long for me to become enlivened and to begin anticipating all God would do through the relationships we would form and the preaching of His word.
The camp was bigger than the one last year, and it was a blast to meet and connect with so many students. These friendships were the highlight of my time last year, and they were again this year. It was so much fun interacting with the kids in English classes and the various crazy activities we did, and it was a privilege to discuss Jesus' mission and message with them in the evening discussion groups. Many students were challenged and softened by the story of the prodigal son, and by the end of the week we were able to witness several students' lives be transformed by the gospel.
God challenged me during the trip about what it means to be on mission for Him in a way that brings Him glory. I am learning to be content with the reality that I am superfluous—God doesn't need me! I yearn to be used by Him with the gifts and passions He has given me, but I also want to rejoice with great joy when He accomplishes His purposes with someone else. We were blessed to have a team with a wide variety of gifts and backgrounds, so it was great to be able to connect with students who brought disparate questions and struggles to the table. So God taught me (and is teaching me) to be grateful when I was able to help someone, and to also be grateful when one of my teammates was able to help someone more than I ever could.
Our continued prayers for the students who came to camp are needed. Although several decided to give their lives to the Lord, there were others who expressed some amount of desire for God but didn't make the decision to follow Him. Prayers that God would continue to draw these students would be wonderful. And prayers that God would cause the seed of the gospel to flourish in those who believed would also be wonderful.
Thank you all again for supporting us on this trip!
From Nikki Escude:
God has been using the Czech trip (and its aftermath) to deepen my trust and faith in Him, and many beautiful truths from Scripture have been coming alive to me in new ways. One particularly potent lesson has been learning to completely rely on the Lord’s strength rather than anything in me. I really am a chipped, cracked jar of clay (2 Corinthians 4), weak and full of imperfections. And I’m totally satisfied with that! It is exactly those imperfections that allow God’s strength and glory to stand out all the more vibrantly. So, God fills me up, holds me together, and God gets all the glory for accomplishing His work through me. I can be content with my weaknesses, because “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10). That is so freeing!
I have also been energized by a renewed sense of urgency for the gospel to be shared. It’s one thing to say I believe the truth of the gospel sets people free, and I to say that time is short, but I am never more convinced of these things than when I am routinely sharing my story of salvation with others. After this trip, I can say with more confidence than ever before, “I am not ashamed of the gospel.”
I could go on with much more, but I’ll leave it there for the sake of brevity. :-)
From Joelle Eitemiller:
Before and during our trip to the Czech Republic, I prayed for three main things:
1) that God would make me feel spiritually and physically inadequate... so that people would know that it was God doing all the work and not me
2) that I could share my testimony with one of the youth at camp
3) that I would meet one of the youth the first day of camp that I could really connect well with so that I could share the Gospel
Well, God answered all of those prayers. He even gave me more than I asked for! But He answered my prayers in the ways I least expected. He made me realize my complete inadequacy apart from Him (especially when I hurt my shoulder the day we were heading to Czech…where I was supposed to lead a SPORTS camp)! Then He gave me an opportunity to share my testimony not with one youth, but the ENTIRE SPORT CAMP! And lastly, I got to spend some really great and purposeful time with one of the non believing members of the youth group leadership team.
God reminded me of His faithfulness, especially through answering my prayers.
So I want to encourage you that God is faithful, He hears your prayers, and He is answering your prayers even though it doesn’t always seem like it. We serve a trustworthy God!
From Aubrey Beck:
Camp was FANTASTIC!!! I loved see God show his love to the students without the barrier of language. Kids saw Christ's love just by us crazy Americans wanting to have fun and hang with them. It was a blast learning Czech and watching the kids have a blast trying to teach us czech. We could bond as sisters and brothers in Christ because we knew the great gift he had given us. For me, it was a struggle not be involved in the discussion groups but such a blessing to pray for my class. I continue to pray for my class and have gotten friends and family to help me pray for them. My life truly changed due to the kindness and the continual giving of the kids. I expected and planned to go to the Czech to serve others but in return I was served so much more. We learn about the facts of God but to truly see his works in process is truly breathtaking.
From Laura Florea:
My experience at camp was purely AWESOME! I’m really excited that many seeds were planted and 6 kids from camp decided to follow Jesus. I am praying that these students will grow in their relationship with God and have opportunities to then disciple others. Personally, I enjoyed experiencing Czech culture and being in such a beautiful country. Spiritually, I felt God used this trip to challenge me to trust Him fully for strength and wisdom while doing things I’ve never done before. It built my faith to see how greatly He provided for me, my wonderful husband, and for others. When I pray for the worldwide church it feels much more REAL having connected with believers half way around the world. Lastly, I’d like to say how thankful I am for the students, the Czech leaders, Lighthouse Church, Mountain View Community Church, my fellow American team, everyone who gave support through donations/prayer and of course God!