Nyheitsbrev frå Joshiah venture Opprettet av frode.skarland 12.10.2020 12:48:29
Siste nyheitsbrev frå Terry English og Josiah Venture. Oppdatert 16.12.2020.
There is no doubt that COVID has been a strain for people all around the world, and that includes our family. Misa and Sammy can sometimes become very irritable after spending hours in online school, and Hanka has been getting more migraines caused by spending so many hours teaching online. For Terry there has been the constant pressure of continuing to lead teams, projects and our church in a constantly changing environment where people’s felt and real needs change on a weekly basis. While some people are working fewer hours during COVID, Hanka and Terry seem to be working much more, and it’s taking it’s toll.
Having said that, there are so many things to be thankful for. Although we are tired of spending hours sitting in front of computer screens, we are at least able to continue our relationships and ministries – imagine COVID 15years ago? Although many of our friends and colleagues have caught COVID, so far everyone in our circle has recovered. We live in a beautiful country, and are able to spend weekends hiking. We are part of a church which is lifting each other up as we go – some weeks we need help, other weeks we are helping others. While we sometimes feel like we have “ponorka” (ponorka means submarine in Czech – it means spending too much time in one small place with the same people), we are blessed to live in a house which HAS space, and as a family we enjoy spending time together (well … mostly :>) )
Paul started most of his letters, even those he wrote in prison, with phrases like “I always thank God for you….Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ….I thank God every time I remember you…… Grace and peace to you from God”. Paul was living in confined circumstances, unsure of his future, not able to meet people – sound familiar? And yet, he remained hopeful and thankful – even when times were hard, and he had much to complain about.
As a family we have decided to follow Paul’s example and actively look for the blessings around us, so regularly ask “what are we thankful for today” – it puts us into a better mindset than complaining about everything! (which we are all apt to do at some point, especially on days when things are especially hard!). If we can think of nothing else, we are always thankful that we are the children of our Heavenly Father who loves us very much and continues to bless us in ways seen and unseen.
We hope that in these difficult times, and especially during Thanksgivng week, you also find things to be thankful for, and experience the hope, peace and love which our Heavenly Father promises each of his children.
In our last update we shared about the “ReCharge” online event, which has now been attended by over 1,000 youth ministry leaders in our reagion – almost double who we expected to reach! We continue to hear stories of the impact this event had, including one youth ministry in Poland who had decided to close down until COVID ended, but who were “ReCharged” to continue working with their young people.
We have made some of the teaching available to our supporting churches. If you would like to “ReCharged” (as a team or just you!) I invite you to watch a session – each is ca. 15mins of teaching with short testimonies from our region. Click on the links below to ReCharge your personal ministry!
Live by Faith
Navigate the Obstacles
Show the Way
A little bragging on my team…..
This month we have continued to adapt to our new COVID life. Amongst other things, the 2 teams I lead have:
- run a seminar on how churches can use esports (internet gaming) to reach young people
- created an online 5 week mentor program attended by 20 young leaders (and extra mentors) from 5 countries, which they can then emulate in their own countries
- begun to create various resources for working with young people during next summer under various lockdown rules
- began to shift much our usual “in person” training to a learning community e-learning format (including 3 days of filming our 2yr staff development curriculum)
- continued to develop disciplemaking APPS and materials
- developing a leadership development curriculum local churches can offer schools
They have done this as they continue to lead and mentor various ministry leaders all over Central and Eastern Europe, helping them pivot various national ministries to continue to equip young leaders in whatever context they find themselves in.
I don’t often mention the JV S-team and Training team collectively in my updates – these are the primary group of people who I lead in the international JV office. To give an idea of how dedicated they are to serving local churches, including the ones they personally attend – 6 weeks ago before our latest lockdown, we found out the daughter of one of our members had tested positive for COVID the day after an in-team training. I contacted the team to tell them they should probably not physically attend their churches that Sunday. Here were the various responses;
- I’m serving the refreshments
- I’m giving the sermon (x 2)
- I’m running the youth group
- I’m leading worship
They are doing an amazing job of serving the teams they themselves lead, and their local churches, during these challenging times, and are a real pleasure to serve alongside! Could you take a moment right now to pray for them and their families? Give thanks for their commitment to the Gospel, and pray their spiritual and physical needs will be met during this time!
As already mentioned, for the past 6 weeks we have been in COVID lockdown, means all schooling has been online. This was a challenge the first week (making sure we had the right equipment and understand how the different tools the schools use), but we have settled into a rhythm which, though not ideal, works. Thankfully we expect that from next Monday schools are opening again, which we’re all greatly looking forward to!
In our last update we mentioned Terry’s dad had a stroke and has now spent 3 months in hospital recovering. Thankfully he was released this week. He still has more rehabilitation to complete before he will be fully independent again, but he will be able to lead a relatively normal life – though we can see the stroke has aged him a lot.
Most weekends we have had good weather, so we spend most Saturdays hiking, appreciating God’s beautiful creation and getting rid of some of the nervous energy that sometimes builds up during the week!
In the midsts of this, Hanka has continued to lead her small group of new believers as they continue to grow in their new faith. It has been amazing to see them grow as they learn to read the bible themselves and support each other – a very encouraging sign during challenging times! Please pray for Wojta, Adela (x2), Sara, and Tereza as they continue to grow!
Ostrava ministry news
As a church we continue to meet online. Last week we welcomed 10 new members in an enjoyable interactive service, and we are benefitting from the small group foundation our structure is dependent on. The Fusion teenagers also continue to meet online (they are somewhat addicted to the game “Among Us” right now!). Our elder board continues to focus on not only caring for our church family, but also asking how we can continue to fulfill our vision “to be a community of people transformed by Christ who transforms the community around them”. To that end, we are still cooking/baking for the staff of our hospital and COVID testing centers, and have created an “alternative, online Ostrava Sings Gospel” experience.
Ostrava Sings the Gospel 2020
In a normal year, this is the month we hold our Gospel choir rehearsals/concerts. While I miss the joy of conducting a large choir, I miss more the faces, the relationships, the stories of lives helped and transformed through the Gospel choir – this is the true reason the project exists, and to that end our leadership team put together a plan to make this happen this year online.
Two weeks ago we held an “online rehearsal” which was attended by 113 former choir members. We had a lot of fun together, and used this rehearsal to launch our online vision for this month, which brings together many people every week into online communities to share (and sometimes cry) together, and discuss a video devotion we post every Friday ( as well as short bible verses we post every day). We are also making a “COVID Song Video” together. There are about 160 people in all who are engaged in our online community, and it is great to see how they are reaching out to each other, though there is no way I can stay up to date with all the posts in the Facebook group! As usual, we will be offering a community group for those want to further explore the truths of the Gospel they are hearing about this month – please pray that the choir members would find the one true source of hope and security during this hard time!
One a side note – on Sunday the online group went a bit wild when one of the members wrote “we’re on the news!”. The national TV station was doing a feature about how key national culture projects are responding to COVID – the national opera, national symphonic, a famous theatre project and…. Ostrava Sings (the) Gospel! It’s still a shock to me that we have become so well known, and are still featured on national TV even when we are not able to perform!
Taking a pay cut
While these days everyone wants a “negative” result, there are some areas where it is not good to be negative – especially in finances.
Because of the faithfulness of many people we have now spent 13 years equipping young leaders to fulfill the Great Commission through Josiah Venture.
However, because we were already “on the field” when we joined JV we have never been fully funded. Practically, this means I recently had to take a pay cut to ensure our ministry funds don’t go “in the negative”.
Many people have fallen on hard times on account of COVID and the economic impact it has had, and we trust that God has a plan to care for everyone in need. If you have not been economically impacted, would you please prayerfully consider partnering with us in ministry through becoming a monthly supporter, or through a one-time gift?
The simplest way to support us is directly through our Josiah Venture giving page here.
We are also learning to use ZOOM as a tool for opportunity and blessing. If your church or home group would benefit from hearing what God is doing in Central and Eastern Europe, we would love to join you! We would be encouraged by your prayers, and to be able to pray for you too!
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