Saturday, July 20, 2013

Czech Republic Team Update #2

Update from Justin Schroeder for the Czech Team:


I honestly don't know how to even put this week into words. I'm absolutely overwhelmed at what God has done here. So I'll try to break it down a bit.

-Camp starts--always a bit of awkwardness, as is the usual, but I agree with Annie who said "it was the most un-awkward Awkward Day I've ever had." The team instantly began meshing with the students, making them feel at home, and getting to know each other real quick. It's always a puzzle as to how to divide students into class (you want a good balance--everyone being assigned to an appropriate level but also to a proper proportion of team member/students),  but after testing the English, the classes seemed to just divide themselves perfectly!

-Camp continues--English classes run smoothly, the Americans have come well-prepared and are KILLING IT with their lessons! Students are learning, and over the course of the week have become more open, comfortable, and downright crazy enough to participate in our American shenanigans, and each day I hear more and more laughter echoing through this campsite in the morning. Good stuff.

-Discussion groups-- They are never easy at first, but each class has had moments of students opening up, asking questions about Jesus, and realizing things they never knew before. The classes have become like families, and each has its own environment of trust and security, and this opens many doors for healthy discussions about Christ! This week we've talked about Peter-- his relationship with Jesus has been SO  interesting-- the way he wrestles with faith, disappointment, friendship, rejection, betrayal, forgiveness, restoration. It's so human. It has enabled a way to paint perfectly a picture of God's grace and how the Gospel has the power to change lives.

And it does.

I wrote a couple days ago saying that yesterday was Gospel day. I tell ya, it started as a frenzy... so much going on beginning right at 7am. Lots of things to set up, general camp-ness to run (including a sushi workshop, aw yeah!), meetings and practices and this, that, everything. But when we got to evening program, everything just ran so smoothly! The campers were engaged, the Gospel message was preached uninterrupted, and when we did the labyrinth- students spent longer in there than I've ever seen before! Many came out crying or wanting to talk to someone.. We had a tea room set up and team members (Czech and American) sat, talked, and prayed with many of the students. Lots had questions, many wanted to know more about this God and how they could have a relationship, and others who previously were unsure where they stood wanted to just sell all out for Christ.

We don't do altar calls here. I don't know if anyone was saved last night. To be honest, I think I've only been to two or three camps (of 8) where someone made the decision AT camp. But isn't that cool in a way? We don't go for that emotional, "camp high" vibe. We're talking to a culture that really contemplates things, that really takes spirituality seriously, and who want to truly choose for themselves if they want to follow Him--and this choice really is life or death for them. And to tell the truth, the results of such a mindset are so much more deep, more evident, and more meaningful than a lot of what we see in the States. I think we as Americans have something to learn from them.
 Much of the fruit will come after camp, maybe December, may March, maybe in 2017. But I tell you, it happens. Last night was an incredible start for so many, and amazing progress for others. I've yet to hear from many of the conversations that were had, but I already heard that several students prayed for the very first time, cried out to God asking Him to show Himself to them. (I was just informed several students committed to start reading the Bible, some describing a total life change, and much more) I am 100% confident that much Kingdom change for the Czech Republic is going to come from this week alone, praise God for that!!

So, long story short: Gospel night = huge success. So, much to be praising God for, and praying that the seeds that were planted will bear much fruit in the coming years!

And it doesn't stop here! We've yet one more night, one last discussion group with students, and then FOLLOW UP! We get to go back to their town, where we work to get everyone plugged into this local church and youth group, and the camp will continue all year long.

This hasn't all been one cake walk. We're tired. Very tired. Sam got sick for a bit but champed through it like a.. well like a champ! There are days where literally nothing goes the way we had planned it that morning, but  one of the first rule of missions: Be adaptable. If you get upset when things don't go the way YOU planned, well you're in the wrong business--God has His own plans and it's by this faith that we operate! And when the curve balls come our way, the team, and I mean the WHOLE team, has handled them with such grace and flexibility that the camp has been able to run so smoothly.


Speaking of camp running smoothly, I can't tell you all enough how thankful I am for the team we have. I honestly can say I've never seen a better crew of Americans out here. I'm dead serious about that. I'm not the only one either, the Czechs have been blown away, and a couple of our JV bosses came to visit yesterday and said the same. The way they're willing to do anything necessary, the way they reach out to students and build relationships even when they're so tired... the way they go with the flow and bring the energy and the fun that supercharges this camp, or just the boldness to share Christ in any circumstance... it's crazy! Exceeding expectations of all sorts. And the Czechs, oh the Czechs, the same can be said for them too! Such a solid group of young adults stepping up in faith to lead. Amongst the leaders, we've done many camps before, and we agree this one has been one of, if not the most, solid camps we ever saw.


Personal note: who would've thunk it; speaking at night has been so much fun!! I had no idea!! What was I so scared about?? So yeah, thank the Lord that actually turned out pretty well. It was seriously a blast, and most of that was because my translator Paja (pronounced Pie-uh.. umm.. yeah phonetics make that look silly..)  was so awesome. After the second night, we both were so surprised at how much joy speaking together gave us! Thank you all for your prayers for that!


Please be praying for the team as we move on to follow up- for the last-chance conversations, for those students who won't be at follow up, and for connections to be made between the Americans and their host families. Some will be going to the homes of students, others to the Czech team, and a few of us will stay with the leaders. Pray for a fruitful time as we minister to these guys from right where they live! It's gonna be awesoooommmme!!!!!

Please continue to pray for health and safety of the team. Camp may be over, but there is much craziness yet to come.


So, English Camp 2013: success. Beyond words.

Thank you all for taking part in this ministry through your prayers-- and keep them up, we're not done yet!

update: between the time I started this email (this morning), and the time I completed it (tonight), one student has decided to give her life to Christ. Whoa!

Pension pod Vlekem, our amazing camp location! Pray for the owner, Ivo. He's been so awesome to us, and has even been listening in on the talks at night
Craft time!

Tea time...


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