Thursday, September 22, 2011

How does it feel after one month since returning to the States after my summer in the Czech Republic? Well let me tell you...

I am still blown away by what I saw the Lord do. To see students come face to face with the living God is something that only makes me more and more in love with my Savior.

My heart still burns for the lost young people of Czech, as well as for those young Czech leaders who have no real opportunity for any theological training or ministerial experience. This summer was not a one-time thing - God has very much confirmed my calling to have a part in training up this next generation.

I want what I have learned to not just stay in Czech, but to live the same way here in Chicago. I want the same burning desire for Jesus' name to be lifted high, and a readiness to share the gospel as well as exhort and encourage those who have believed it.

But more than anything, I want to know Jesus more.

Thank you for standing with me throughout this summer of ministry. Would you continue to stand with me as I manage our on-campus coffee shop, disciple high-schoolers at Grace Church of DuPage, and lead worship for the students of Moody Bible Institute?

I know this is only the beginning of the many journeys I will embark on with the Lord!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

On July 20th, 2011, there was a multitude of angels in heaven rejoicing over the spiritual birth of a new daughter of God!

During our first discussion group, we asked everyone what their hopes or expectations were of camp. Many said, "I want to learn better English," or, "I came to meet Americans." Aneta's response was quite different: "I'm here because I want to find God."

As we stayed up late in our discussion group flipping through Scripture and answering questions, it was so obvious to both Ryan and I that the Lord had a firm grip on this young girl. We knew He would complete the work He had started and draw her to Himself.

And on July 20th, 2011, this lost sheep was found. Her eyes were opened to the glory of Jesus Christ and her own need for a Savior. Let us all rejoice for our new sister in Christ!!

Luke 15:3-7
So [Jesus] told them this parable:

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’

Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Aneta has an incredible story of God's faithfulness amidst much pain and struggle. I can't wait for you to hear the whole story in heaven one day! But really, her story is just beginning. Aneta needs much prayer as she begins her walk with the Lord. Being a Christian in the Czech Republic is not a popular thing, and she will likely face opposition from her family and friends. There will be times where she will no doubt feel alone. May she find her comfort and satisfaction in Him alone!

Would you pray with me for this newborn child? 

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

An unexpected highlight during our second camp with the CB church in Poděbrady was getting to teach an English class with Ryan! We were both very wary of the whole English aspect of camp, but for this camp there was a shortage of teachers and we jumped right in!

And what an incredible experience it turned out to be. Tomáš, Martin 1, Martin 2, Michael, Aneta and Mája were great students. Plus Ryan and I totally feed off each other and have a lot of fun in the process of teaching!

Each morning we spent three hours teaching vocabulary, playing games, and helping the students be more comfortable conversing in the English language. Czech young people learn a lot of grammar in school, but aren't as confident in actually speaking. That's why English Camp is so great!

But a huge highlight for me was our evening discussion group. After listening to stories about different people "colliding" with Jesus, the whole camp would break back up into their English classes and spend an hour talking about the stories and wrestling with issues such as grace, forgiveness, peer pressure, and decisions about Christ. Several nights our discussion time went far beyond the normal time - up to three hours! It was a special time of sharing our lives with each other and proclaiming the gospel.

I really came to love these guys by the end of the week! It was awesome to see God move so powerfully within each one of the students in my class, whether believer of unbeliever. Soon I'll tell you more about how God moved in their hearts!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

For as long as I have lived in the Czech Republic, Chuck Norris has been a very important cultural phenomenon. I remember turning on Czech TV to Walker, Texas Ranger, hearing Chuck Norris jokes at school, and more recently seeing Chuck in a special T-Mobile television campaign. His popularity has risen immensely in the past couple years once again as an example of a true man's man. 

What many people don't is that Chuck Norris is a committed evangelical believer, who loves Jesus with all his heart. When Tyndale publishers released a book last year titled The Official Chuck Norris Fact Book, which combines the best of Chuck Norris jokes with Chuck's own testimony, Josiah Venture had it translated into Czech. It is now being distributed at English Camps this summer along with a Norris-style gospel tract, titled The Source of Chuck Norris' Strength.

We begin with a deep chasm which even Chuck Norris can't jump over - sin. This separates us all from God.

Not even Chuck's best intentions at being a good person allow him to come close to God. A successful life, good deeds, and religion are all vain attempts at matching up to God's standards.

But God did not leave Chuck (or us!) in despair - He sent his own son, Jesus Christ, to make a way to God.

Now Chuck - and whoever believes in Jesus Christ - has access to God and eternal life. The price is paid - we can now enjoy fellowship with holy, holy, holy God!

What a great reminder to students that even an all-powerful legend such as Chuck Norris is still under God's authority, and needs a Savior just as much as we do.

Friday, July 29, 2011

While the primary purpose of English Camps is evangelistic, the effectiveness of a camp extends far beyond numbers of conversions. In a country where faith in Jesus is entirely counter-cultural, even small steps toward God are considered huge. For someone to come to camp not believing in God and leaving with questions about Him, that is a success. For someone to come to camp having never read the Bible and leaving with a Bible of their own, that is a success. And of course, for someone to come to camp not knowing Jesus and leaving with a new heart, that is an enormous success.

I want to share with you some of the things the Lord did in my discussion group at our first camp with the CB church in Ostrava!

The first evening talk of the week was titled "A Collision Between Christ and Christianity." The main idea was, "Don't let your preconceived ideas of Christianity keep you from getting to know Christ Himself." We prayed for open doors to talk openly with the five students in our group openly from the first day. He answered!

I was able to share the full gospel the very first night - with guys who were leaned in and fully engaged, asking lots of questions and wrestling with the ideas of grace and justice. I remember T saying completely honestly, "That doesn't make any sense." But as the week progressed, you could see lights coming on and the dots being connected as he finished my thoughts and began understanding what Jesus is really all about. This young man is in the Lord's hands, and I believe that God is not finished with T just yet! Coming to camp not having ever even thought about God, T left seeking. These are huge steps.

L was the one with the most questions. He was always thinking about the evening talks and eager to jump right into spiritual topics. It came from a very soft and sincere heart. L was very touched and struck with the injustice of Jesus' crucifixion and innocent death. Ryan especially poured into this young man, explaining why Jesus had to die and how it affects each one of us personally. I received a note from L at the end of camp: "Tyler, thanks helping me understand God and Jesus." 

At the end of the week, we gave each one of the guys in our small group Bibles. Ryan, Michael and I each wrote a dedication in the front with some passages of Scripture. I feel like the Lord gave me very specific verses for each individual. It was so exciting to see their faces light up with thankfulness as they received their gift! As we rode back to Ostrava in the bus, almost all of them had their Bibles out and read them throughout the trip. 

These seemingly small steps are all apart of God's plan of redemption for these students. Not all will choose to follow Jesus. But many will receive the grace He gives through His blood and go on to be strong men and women of faith. It is through these individuals that God will bring about revival in their home country of the Czech Republic!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I am so astonished that the Lord chooses to use ordinary people to accomplish His purposes. He is powerful enough to work completely on His own, and yet He chooses to allow us to join in the work He is doing. There are three people I would like to highlight from our first camp with Ostrava that I saw the Lord use mightily - in word and deed.

Adam Parma was the Czech leader of the Ostrava camp, and is probably one of the most capable men I have met. He is the Czech Renaissance man! Throughout camp I was astonished at how he was able to switch from making sure details were taken care of, to preparing an evening skit, to caring for his team, to playing any musical instrument you could imagine! He held the whole camp together. My dad worked very closely with Adam during the production of the EXIT 316 TV series, and it was a privilege to work with Adam myself for the first time. He has an enormous heart for Jesus and for the church, which was so evident throughout the week of camp.

Todd Roughton was so clearly God's man for this camp. The youth pastor at University Fellowship church in Eugene, OR, Todd led his team of high schoolers with strength and humility. God used Todd to reach the students through the evening talks. Each day we walked through a story of people in the Bible "colliding" with Jesus. From Zaccheus to Pilate to the two thieves on the cross, the students sat captivated and engaged. It was so fun to see certain young people getting "front row seats" as the week progressed. Todd was God's man. His boldness and love for Jesus made an eternal impact.

Michael Novotný grew up as the son of a pastor and Bible translator, and has been in the CB Ostrava church since his early teenage years. At 25, he just finished his studies to be a lawyer, and brought so much wisdom to our evening discussion group when talking about God's justice and righteousness. The way he engaged with the guys in his cabin was awesome to see. They really respect him - and rightly should! He is a man after God's own heart. I personally loved hearing about his heart for discipleship and commitment to the Word. The Lord is going to use this man in incredible ways to bring this nation back to Himself.

These are three men that I would love to serve with in the future again. No joke! Such studs for God's kingdom. What got me the most excited was how God used them in the lives of the young men at camp. We need solid men in the church who are passionate and bold for the gospel. Praying that God would raise up more and more men like Adam, Todd, and Michael!

Monday, July 25, 2011

This past month has been FULL!

Full of travelling.

Full of camps.

Full of fun.

Full of new relationships.

Full of the Gospel being boldly proclaimed.

Full of changed lives.

I will take the next week to give one update a day to catch up on everything that the Lord has been doing in the month of July. I hope it will be an encouragement to you and give you an even greater fervency to pray for the last two and a half weeks of my ministry here!