Nyheitsbrev frå Joshiah venture Opprettet av frode.skarland 12.10.2020 12:48:29
Siste nyheitsbrev frå Terry English og Josiah Venture.
While we enjoyed a summer of relaxed lockdown laws, across Europe the COVID numbers are rising and countries are once again being forced to enact stricter measures. It could be easy to look at this situation and feel like giving up – how can we equip churches to reach young people when they cannot, actually, meet young people? How can the church we lead continue to disciple our members, many of whom are new believers?
Last week Josiah Venture ran an online training event which addressed some of these questions. During the event we looked at the life of Paul. He had a very vibrant ministry, traveling throughout Asia Minor planting churches, but what happened when he was locked up in jail in Rome, when he could no longer be close to his mission field…. did his ministry end? Not at all! Even from prison, he continued to equip and inspire churches he helped launch, (Ephesians, Philippians, Galatians etc.), mentor young leaders (Timothy) and share the gospel with the people he COULD reach – prison guards and members of Caesar’s household.
As we face more and more restrictions, I’m praying God will open our eyes to the new works He has already prepared us in advance to do, and see the mission field in front of us we may otherwise be missing.
ReCharge your faith and ministry
In March one of my teams was brainstorming ways we can better help our staff equip local churches to fulfill the Great Commission. One of our team members, Rob (who in September took over one of my roles, Director of Training for JV) wrote on the board “In order to enact change you have to create a crisis”.
One week later our country went into COVID lockdown and we all started working from home. Several months later when we retuned to the office, the quote was still written on the board – and it remains there till this day, with the addition “nailed it!”.
COVID has created many problems and struggles, but amongst those struggles there have also been opportunities to try something new. Being forced to close down programs and conferences has given us the opportunity to dream, be creative and serve in ways we otherwise would not have thought possible – from creating new ways of equipping churches for summer ministry (most of our residential camps were closed down this summer, so we created numerous in-city day initiatives which enabled churches to reach hundreds of teens during the summer), to coming alongside youth leaders and helping them create a tailor made approach for how they will lead and disciple the young people in their ministries during these challenging times.
One new “pivot” we recently made was to replace our flagship “Fall Conference” usually attended by 500 youth leaders from all over Europe with a one day online ministry-team training event held in 60 locations across the region called “ReCharge”. So far over 800 ministry leaders have attended the 6 hour event, which leads the teams through a series of short teaching segments with testimonies from young leaders from across our region, and the opportunity to share their reflections on the teaching and move forward in faith in making their plans for how recharge their ministries this fall. The four segments were:
Live by Faith
Navigate the Obstacles
Maximize the Opportunities
Show the Way
Although we created this event in a very short timeframe (6 weeks from conception to completion), it has been extremely well received by participants and our staff. I am especially excited that the event was attended by people who would not usually be able to attend our fall conference, and it also gave us the opportunity to enable 60 of our staff members to shepherd the teams through the day, enabling them to build stronger relationships with local churches, and helping local churches build stronger relationships with each other. Some of the feedback we have received include:
“ReCharge was increadible! It was definitely my favorite JV event thus far! It gave leaders a small taste of what it could look like to be in relationship with other youth leaders, pastors and churches in this region.” – a JV staff member
I would like to share with you how much I feel loved by you and overwhelmed by God's mercy. Today I really recharged. I needed that encouragement. I got it. I got bigger faith” A local youth workers message to one of our JV staff hosts.
“In order to enact change, you have to create a crisis”. When the situation permits we will continue to hold large in-person events, but in the meantime we have stumbled upon a whole new way of equipping hundreds of leaders we have not reached before, and our 6 week experiment has now lead to a new tool which though which we can better equip our staff to help local churches to fulfill the Great Commission.
(we are currently reformatting the video content for US/UK churches – if your local church youth ministry is feeling a little lost right now and needs a “ReCharge”, this may be one tool to help them – I’d be happy to give you more information if you are interested!)
The Czech Republic relaxed their lockdown laws this summer which enabled us to move forward with our ministry plans. As we shared in July, we were able to hold a Fusion outreach camp at which several teens made professions of faith, and Hanka also helped lead our churches camp for 7-13yr olds.
One of the best practices we encourage churches to adopt is initiating a bible study for all young people who make a profession of faith (or who want to know more) within 3 days of making that profession. This summer we have really seen the fruit of that best practice. Hanka lead a weekly “GRO” bible study (using JV materials we spent the last 2 years helping to develop) attended by 5 teens, one of whom then invited another classmate to join. Two months later, all 6 teens are growing strongly in their faith, becoming integtrated into our wider church community (including attending a church retreat weekend!) , and we had the pleasure of baptizing 2 of them (Wojta and Adelka) last week.
One special moment from our church retreat was watching Wojta leading Terka through one of the bible studies she had missed. A new believer, 8 weeks into his faith, leading a friend in a bible study. What a blessing to watch, and a testimony to the impact the Holy Spirit is having on their lives through Hanka (they are also students at Hanka’s school. In the past year 4 students and 1 teacher have put their faith in Christ – we wonder what else God has in store for that school!)
Last week I walked past a restaurant garden and saw another group of young people from our Fusion who were in a “SEEK” study, aimed at young people who are exploring our faith but not yet ready to make a profession (also using materials – this time an APP - developed by my team). This study was being lead by Sylva, who came to Christ through our Gospel choir 3 years ago. Despite the challenges we are facing, God is at work in the lives of the people around us!
This year Míša started to attend a new grammar school – the kids are growing up fast! She likes her class (it helps that her best friend from primary school is with her!) and thankfully so far the students have not been too impacted by COVID (although several teachers and classes from her school have been quarantined). Sammy is also enjoying being back in school and this week created his first powerpoint presentation.
Last week the Government announced a new set of measures to combat the rising COVID outbreak in the Czech Republic, which means Hanka is now split between teaching her younger students in person, and her older students online. Although the government announced this is a short term measure, most people expect schools to switch to fully online classes soon, especially given how fast COVID is spreading through schools (several classes in Hanka’s school have also been quarantined, and children in our church have caught COVID through the classroom – thankfully they are not seriously sick).
While we have enjoyed a summer of fewer restrictions, the country is once again beginning to slowly shut down as the COVID outbreak increases. As a church we have really enjoyed meeting together for a brief time, (and it has been amazing to see how we have grown in number and depth this year!) but have once again drawn up plans to move everything online. The hardest decision for me personally has been connected to the Ostrava Sings (the) Gospel choir – all activities involving singing have been shut down for the coming future, so once again, we are exploring how to “pivot” to keep reaching the hundreds of people we impact each Christmas. Prayers and inspiration are very much welcome!!!
In the meantime, please be praying that we approach this new time with hope and our eyes fixed on Jesus, making sensible decisions about how to best move our ministries forward.
Dad in Hospital
Last month my dad, who lives here in the Czech Republic, had a stroke, and has been in hospital since. While his brain is working well (his sense of humour and sarcasm were not at all affected!), the stroke has impacted his ability to move, which means he is confined to a wheelchair and slowly learning to walk again. Unfortunately, because of COVID we are not able to visit him, so it is hard to understand how much he is improving, and if he is getting the care he needs.
Could you please pray for his recovery, and also for his wife, Joyce, who has now gone over a month without seeing her husband? Could you also pray for wisdom for what would be the best “next steps”. Ironically, dad and Joyce had planned to move back to UK this year precisely so that this kind of situation would not occur. Now we are unsure of what their future holds, and the impact it will also have on our family.
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