365 Czech Republic

Why A 15 Second Instagram Video Made Me Cry

I would repeat tonight in a heartbeat. I had the privilege of speaking on social media in the ministry context and I seriously had so much fun. I’ve been sharing the last few days how I’ve been in and out of Josiah Venture’s “National Orientation” where 19 men and women from 8 countries are officially joining the JV family. They will finish up tomorrow and I was able to be part of their last night together.

As I spoke tonight on what God did with our family this past year, and how He used Facebook and Instagram to connect us to many individuals who are now on our support team, I was overcome with emotion. Even as I prepared my presentation earlier today, I began to cry and think about how many people are sacrificing and generously supporting the work we’re doing in Czech Republic. I’m truly and deeply thankful for each and every one of them. What’s absolutely incredible to me is that in a round about way, our supporters are supporting these nationals who heard me speak tonight. Hopefully I was able to impart to these nationals some help and encouragement and that is definitely in thanks to our supporters who allow me and my family to be here!

National Orientation (2/19/15)

Above is a photo I took while I was speaking and I told them all it would be on the blog tonight. You can pray for all of them as they now turn their efforts towards raising support. This is a significant challenge for some of them. Many of their church cultures and countries are not accustomed to supporting missionaries and could very well be confused by their efforts. My hope and prayer is that these men and women will be part of a movement in their countries that sees the church rise and up send out workers in to the harvest! Being with them tonight reminded me that the work is not always easy, and I need to continue to pray that God would shower His grace on them.

Below is a video I posted to Instagram back in June when we finally reached 100% of our support. I showed this video tonight and that’s when I was overcome with emotion. Praise God for His faithfulness and for the many people (maybe even you!) who support our work here. We are truly thankful.

365 Czech Republic

Friends and Stickers

The day started early with one of Titus’ friends coming over for the first half of the day. Beni showed up a little before 8:00am and he and Titus had a ton of fun playing together. Linda, Beni’s grandma, has been taking care of Beni and his brother Caleb for the past ten days or so while their parents have been in Israel. Today Linda had to go to the Foreign Police because she’s been have issues with her visa, so Bethany asked if she could help watch the boys and hopefully help Linda focus on that. Since Caleb had school today, Beni was the only one who came, but of course Titus thought this was a wonderful idea and even when I got home this afternoon he was still talking about how much fun he and Beni had playing outside and being together.

Stickers (10/30/14)

A lot of what I do for Josiah Venture (JV) is really fun, but one of my most recent projects is a little extra special. Right now JV has people across the United States on what we call the recruiting tour. Our staff goes around to a lot of different Christian colleges talking about Josiah Venture and recruiting students to come over for the summer and do an internship. My team was asked to help create materials that could be used while on the tour and one of our ideas were these 4×4″ stickers that could be passed out to students on campus (shown above). Along with the stickers is a card (shown far left) that has some additional information and ways they can connect with us further and apply. What I love about the stickers though is that they are just bits of Scripture that students can stick up in their dorm or wherever they want and hopefully be reminded about what God is doing over here and around the globe.

Bethany and I worked with college students for four years in our church before coming here and at first I really didn’t like. Quite honestly, I loved working with high schoolers because they seemed more open to change than I thought college students were. But after a while I realized that college students are at such a key part of their lives where they are going to make crucial decisions about friends, jobs, churches, missions, etc. that will effect them for a very long time. During that time they need a lot of help, training, discipleship, and mentoring. Obviously a sticker isn’t going to magically make someone want to do missions, but it’s about the conversation that happens when our staff hands that person a sticker and invites them to join us in the work going on over here. There are a tons of needs here, especially in the summer months, and I hope that these little pieces of Scripture and the conversations that go with them will be a helpful tool to bring more young people here to serve and be part of God’s movement in Central and Eastern Europe. You never know, maybe one of those big decisions college students are making will be coming here full time to tell others about the Greatest News there is.

365 Czech Republic

Just Down the Street From the Gestapo

On our way to Poland yesterday, we stopped at a McDonald’s to grab lunch. The kids were asleep in the car, and attempting English in the drive thru is pretty much out of the question, so I went inside to order. The nice Polish woman who helped me spoke great English which was a blessing and as I went to pay I realized I didn’t have my debit card in my wallet. This was very strange because it’s pretty much my lifeline here, but I had to pay so I just used a different card. After getting back into the car I searched around and couldn’t find it. The last place I remember seeing it was the night before when I went to the grocery store for Bethany. Either I had left it there or put in my pants pocket that night. I guess this would have to wait until we get back from Poland.

Today I checked all my pants pockets and couldn’t find it so I went to Tesco where I remembered having it last. Since I can’t speak Czech, I used my phone (Google translate) to communicate with the ladies that I thought I had left my bank card there. Amazingly, and thankfully, they had it! I was told to go to “informace” (customer service) and showed them my passport and got it back! Praise God I didn’t lose it because getting a new sent here from the States would’ve been tough. And in the end I thought the whole experience was yet another language learning opportunity.

Walking the Town (10/11/14)

I took the kids out late this afternoon for a little walk to the park while Bethany started dinner. We live in a pretty historical area, so much so that they have little plaques along the square near our place explaining the different building and their significance. I’ve read a few of them, but today I found a new one over by the park that I hadn’t seen of the building in the above photo. Apparently it was built in the latter part of the 19th century and was an administration building then a secondary school. But in 1939 the Nazis occupied this area and (are you sitting down?) it became the headquarters for the Gestapo! A block from my apartment is where the Gestapo had their base of operations. Crazy! Wait… you don’t believe me? Here’s the plaque (written in Czech, Polish, and English):

Gestapo Building (10/11/14)

Tonight I attend a youth conference at our church where the main speaker was none other than Dave Patty, the president of Josiah Venture. He speaks very good Czech and I watched in awe as he preached from Romans 12:1-2 to a few hundred Czech teenagers. I did my best to listen for words that I knew, but genuinely had no clue what was going on. Had it not been for the person next to who spoke a little English, I wouldn’t even have known we were in Romans. From what I could tell though, Dave had the attention of the students and I’m sure they were blessed. I know I was encouraged, especially from the singing tonight when they did a familiar Phil Wickham song in English! Here’s a short clip of everyone singing “This is amazing grace:”


This is a room full of young people gathered for a Christian youth conference here in Czech. Such a joy to see this.

View on Instagram

Hearing that song sung by so many young people almost had me in tears. The spiritual climate in Czech is so dry that to see all of these people praising Jesus in a small town in Czech is kind of mind blowing. This is fresh to me because just tonight a friend forwarded me a link on Twitter about just how atheistic the Czech Republic is. It’s yet another reminder of why we’re here but how God continues to move among the youth.

365 Czech Republic

When Missionaries Talk To Each Other

Before leaving the house today I saw a bunch of notifications on my phone, many of which were from Facebook. A lot of our friends had left a comment about our day yesterday. It was such a blessing to read them and even after I got to Josiah Venture, Bethany texted me saying, “Tons of encouragement and prayers on yesterday’s FB post. Our friends are nice.” Encouragement it was and we are so blessed to have many people following our lives online who are able to bring us before the Lord. If you are one them, thank you…really, thank you! We can’t tell you how much it meant to us.

Alongside those little posts of encouragement was another conversation that got me thinking. Just before writing the blog last night I had posted a little update about how we kill a lot mosquitos around here. The comments on that status update were hilarious and with the exception of one, they were all written by missionaries from around the globe. Six missionaries in five different countries were represented and everyone was talking about how they kill mosquitos where they live. This might sound funny, but it was encouraging. Silly? Sure. But seeing my friends and fellow missionaries talk and joke about killing mosquitos as a “nightly ritual” was almost comforting. It’s not really about the mosquitos as much as it is about shared experiences and just getting the time to hear from other missionaries. A bunch of missionaries from around the world were talking to each other. Even my friend, Daniel, texted me this photo today of his mosquito bite! At what point in history have we ever had this kind of connectedness?


Tonight I read the crazy and unreal week that our friends and teammates, the Cramers, had in Albania. You should read it, but the gist of the story is that their water heating system in their house completely exploded. By God’s grace, no one was hurt, but in Cory’s words to me over instant message, “it was a disaster.” After reading it, I don’t think there’s another word for it. And you know what it did? It put my week into perspective. Our family life this week has felt pretty strange and even tonight I do not feel well. But reading about our friends in a harder place, with a harder situation, who have the right perspective of God’s goodness, encouraged my soul and realigned my own perspective. It was like reading a missionary biography, only it didn’t take thirty years to publish. It happened this week and I can learn and grow as I listen to my friends deal with these new or common situation they’re in.

God has given us a wonderful gift in the kind of connectivity we have today. Hopefully it only leads us to pray for each other more and cause us to entreat the God of the universe for His mercy and grace in every day trials. To our missionary friends out there, thanks for talking with us. Thanks for sharing your stories, pains, joys, hurts, and happiness so we can learn and grow from each other. It’s nice to hear from you.

Oh, alright…in the spirit of being connected, here’s a few photos from today (captions below each):

Mosquito Talk (9/17/14)

We’re definitely not joking about the mosquitos. Bethany bought this thing today and I am excited!

Mosquito Talk (9/17/14)

Avery has figured out how to turn the light switches on and off with the fly swatter. Let’s just hope the mosquitos start landing on the light switches.

Mosquito Talk (9/17/14)

It was really sunny today so Bethany and the kids went for a walk and to the park. They stopped on the path to blow some dandelions.

Mosquito Talk (9/17/14)

Later in the day it got more overcast, but the sun was still shining through the clouds while Bethany was at the grocery store this evening. I love it when you can see the sun streaks.

Christianity Quotes

The Highest of All Missionary Motives

John Stott on missionary motives:

If God desires every knee to bow to Jesus and every tongue to confess Him, so should we. We should be ‘jealous’ for the honor of His name—troubled when it remains unknown, hurt when it is ignored, indignant when it is blasphemed, and all the time anxious and determined that it shall be given the honor and glory which are due to it.

The highest of all missionary motives is neither obedience to the Great Commission (important as that is), nor love for sinners who are alienated and perishing (strong as that incentive is, especially when we contemplate the wrath of God), but rather zeal—burning and passionate zeal—for the glory of Jesus Christ.

Only one imperialism is Christian, and that is concern for His Imperial Majesty Jesus Christ, and for the glory of his empire or kingdom. Before this supreme goal of the Christian mission, all unworthy motives wither and die.

(via Of First Importance)

Christianity Quotes

Working Together for the Gospel

chan-multiplyIn his book Multiply, Francis Chan gives a great charge to every believer in regards to global missions. I read it this week and I think it’s worth your own consideration:

Once we start developing a passion for Christ’s glory to be seen around the world, we need to figure out what role we are called to play. Make no mistake, every Christian is called to be involved in spreading the gospel around the world! No one is off the hook. No one is called to a life that is separate from global missions. But this doesn’t mean that we all need to immediately start packing for the jungle.

God may well want you to take His gospel overseas. Too many Christians discount that possibility too quickly. Some people are too comfortable with their current lifestyle and would never dream of sacrificing their comfort for God’s glory. Others quickly assume that they are called to something else, something more normal. We shouldn’t make these assumptions. Have you ever genuinely told God that you would submit yourself to His will in this area? Right now, you should ask God if He wants you to pursue living in a different location for the sake of the gospel. It may be a terrifying thought, but we have to trust God more than we trust ourselves. We are here on this earth for His glory. God has blessed you so that you will use whatever He has given you for His glory,a not yours. Ultimately, we should expect God’s plan to lead us places that we wouldn’t naturally go.

You can read more and view videos at

Christianity Friends

The Hope of the Nations

TWR: Speaking Hope to the World from TWR on Vimeo.

Using technology to reach the lost is obviously not a new idea, but it’s something that I believe the church is still learning how to do, and how to do effectively. A classmate of ours from The Master’s College created the above video for the missions organization TWR (Trans World Radio) (who he and his wife also serve with). TWR’s desire is to use mass media to proclaim Christ to the nations and provide discipleship materials around the globe. This is exciting and if the work they’re doing is as good as that video, then I’m excited to see how God uses their ministry.

One of the ways that our family will serve with Josiah Venture is in the area of creative communications, which includes using mass media in creative ways to help support local churches and the ongoing ministry of JV in Central and Eastern Europe. God is raising up talented people around the globe to bring the gospel and provide materials to those who don’t have them. With the Internet, social media, video, radio, or whatever tools we have, we can continue to find new ways to communicate the Greatest Story ever told. We’re excited to help JV do just that and it’s always a joy to see this going on in other areas of the world as well.

P.S. One fun fact: the African man who narrates the video is a friend of ours named Peter. We were also classmates with him at The Master’s College and while he was in school we attended the same church. Peter is a man who loves Christ and it’s just a blessing to see his face and hear his voice on this video.

Christianity Friends

A Movement of God

Josiah Venture recently published this video profiling Mel & Amy Ellenwood who have been missionaries with JV for the past 15 years. Mel and Amy lead the “Bteam” which our family will be joining when we move to Czech Republic. The video is very well done and helps communicate the heart and vision of JV as well give a short look at the kind of families that are part of this huge movement of God in Central and Eastern Europe. Please take a minute and watch it.

Christianity Family Friends

Just What I Needed

It’s been a rough week. Our entire family has been sick with the flu (yes, the one you hear about on TV) and we even spent time in the ER with our daughter Avery because we weren’t sure if she was throwing up blood. By God’s grace, we don’t think that was the case, and she is doing fine….but it was still scary. As I’m writing I can hear our two-year old son coughing in our kids’ room and Bethany has been feeling nauseous tonight. Like I said, it’s been a rough week.


I sat down tonight to write some thank-yous to friends who are graciously supporting us in our ministry to Czech Republic. As I wrote my first one tears began to fill my eyes. I guess I was a little overwhelmed with God’s amazing grace and the sacrifice of our friends and family who are joining us in this ministry. Writing these little notes always reveals how God’s plan has come together in one way or another. One of these notes was to a family who were crucial in helping shape my thinking about missions. Another family are close friends of ours who we will miss greatly when God moves us. A few were to individuals who I have served in ministry with the past few years. These people are all people that God has used in our lives to shape us, help us, mold us, and encourage us. Isn’t that amazing?

We serve a big God. His ways are not my ways. He can see the entirety of my life in a single moment. He knows every person we will meet, every person will we do ministry with, and he knew that maybe one day He would use those people to send my family to another culture to tell people about His Son Jesus. He knew how important each relationship would be in shaping Bethany and I and how crucial these people would be in encouraging our hearts when we’re weak. He knew this week that I would need that kind of reminder and encouragement and for that I’m very thankful. It’s just what I needed.


Is Jesus Enough?

This 30 minute message from David Platt is worth every minute.