There’s no better way to start off an international trip than to receive a surprise notification five hours before your scheduled departure: “Your flight to Seattle is cancelled due to weather conditions.”
And it didn’t stop there. We rented a car to drive from Spokane to Seattle. During that drive, we were praying my COVID test results would come back in time for our flight from Seattle to London. For some reason, Claire’s had come, but mine hadn’t.
Thankfully Claire’s relatives live near the Seattle airport, because the test result didn’t come in time. We stayed the night in Seattle and rebooked our London flight for the next day.
Once on the plane to London, everything was smooth sailing. Or … smooth flying. Our kids slept about seven of the nine-and-a-half-hour flight. There was plenty of space on the plane for us to scoot about, since the flight was only about a quarter full. This was true of almost every flight we were on.
We also had very short waits with customs and security lines. You know what a blessing that is.
We made the most of the six-hour layover in London by running around, eating snacks, people-watching, and pretending the airport was a playground for Buzz Lightyear and toy horses. When we finally got to the Prague airport, our luggage came quickly. We crammed our suitcases and car seats into the Dennys’ small SUV and headed to their house about 10:30 pm.
The Denny girls (Lydia, 17; Sophie, 15; and Chloe, 13) graciously gave up their school study room in their house for our kids to have a perfect sleep space and playroom. The kids went to bed immediately, and we stayed up to begin catching up with our dear friends Marcus and Amie.
The hour-long prayer service before church, as well as the two-hour time for lunch and fellowship afterward, clearly demonstrate the sort of community this church is.
Sunday came two and a half short days after we arrived, and the purpose of our trip really began. We were there to experience the church in the Czech Republic that Marcus and Amie have been faithfully serving for 14 years. We were there to meet people, begin relationships, learn the culture, understand the need, observe the opportunities, and prayerfully imagine what it would be like to live there one day.
Put simply, there were a lot more of them than the last time we visited, four years ago! Biblický Sbor Křesťanů Kladno (BSKK), a church that consisted of 25 middle-age to elderly people, is now a church of about 70 people from all ages and stages of life. They were hospitable and eager to get to know us.
Immediately noticeable was the genuineness of relationships being shared among them. The hour-long prayer service before church, as well as the two-hour time for lunch and fellowship afterward, clearly demonstrate the sort of community this church is. This is not typical of Czech culture, and the contrast speaks highly of the Gospel and God’s Word at work.
Each of the four Sundays we were there, we made it a point to socialize with someone new, revisit conversations from previous weeks, and try to make plans for meeting again with at least one family during the week. Thankfully, we were able to visit the homes of multiple families, including one of the elders and a family that will be baptized in March.
It is evident that this church desires relationships more than ever. Even if relational commitments like discipleship, mentorship, building each other up in the faith, being open with one another about life, and deep friendship are still a work in progress, it is evident that when people taste it, they want more of it.
It’s fair to say we learned more of the church’s culture than we did the Czech culture while we were there. But the insight we gained into both provided more color in the grey-and-white canvas we picked back up from four years earlier.
The church’s culture is very much not Czech. I’m not saying it is American; I’m saying it is Christian...
The church’s culture is very much not Czech. I’m not saying it is American; I’m saying it is Christian (which is not Czech). And in one sense, this was all we needed to see about the culture there. Because it is evident that an atheistic culture—saturated in idolatry of success and living the “Czech Dream,” distrusting, closed off, not naturally friendly, and skeptical of any organized religion—even such a culture as this can be transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Is the country beautiful? Absolutely. Is the history difficult and dark? Yes, hence the intrinsic distrust. Could we live a “normal life” there? Yes, pretty much. But what was most exciting about all we observed about the culture is this: It is ripe for the harvest. It just needs families, marriages, men, women, children and churches that are able and ready to water it with Gospel-powered lives.
Put simply, the needs of the country are obvious and many. The opportunities are available, because very few people are meeting those needs. And so, when we prayerfully imagine ourselves there, we see how useful we could be by God’s grace and power.
The current church needs men and women to be trained up in godliness, soundness of faith, and the ability to do the work of the ministry. The country needs more churches to be planted. And right now, there are close to zero Czech people faithfully and biblically doing this work.
This is where, unlike our flight to Seattle, our imagination takes off. We are asking these questions: What does our role need to be so that we are equipping the saints for the work of the ministry? How do we help the church there without doing the work for the church? How can we assist and relieve the current elders (Marcus, Daniel, and Alesh) so they can more effectively carry out the responsibilities entrusted to them? Who are the next men in the current church who God wants to raise up for future ministry of the Gospel to the rest of the Czech Republic?
In many ways, we see BSKK church as the future of the universal church as it exists in the Czech Republic. Because we believe this, the next few months will be spent in serious conversation with the Dennys and the elders of the church. We want to be effective, we want to steward our lives and our giftings according to God’s will, and we want to make all of these decisions with eternity in mind.
Pray for God to guide our conversations moving forward. Pray our hearts would be clearly directed and protected, kept in line with God’s will, whatever He may have in store. We trust Him. Please join in prayerfully trusting Him with us.
In this sermon we hear from Proverbs 31 about four enduring qualities of a woman who fears the Lord: Industry, Economy, Dignity, Exemplary. This passage has some surprises and a unique structure. Introduction ...