It always takes a few days to assess my trips. I’ll take a shot at doing that now. Overall, it was one of the most productive trips I have ever made. The Egyptian family in Sofia and their story is one of the most compelling I have ever encountered. I’m excited to stay engaged in their lives. The special studies in the village were so productive, and we have plans to improve them next time. The study with the Bulgarian family via Skype has me truly conflicted. Marek, who knows them so well, believe that a trip to London for a face to face would result in their baptisms. The continuing success of our lectures plan in Brno has us already planning for the next one. The young people in Prague I was able to work with have a zeal for setting up studies I haven’t seen in that country for many years. Also, several people I met on my own and have been slowly developing relationships with in Prague are gradually beginning to show progress.
These exciting things are the culmination of a number of factors. These include: ongoing fellowship of brethren in the states that allows me to make these plans with confidence that the resources will be available, longstanding relationships built with the people over the years, the hard work of the brethren there, and, far above all of this, the power of the Gospel.
Thanks for your interest, prayers, and support.
On Thursday we had our second Prague Lecture. The church asked me to talk about religious traditions. The turnout was fairly good considering we were up against the Czech Republic- USA hockey game in the quarter finals of the World Championship. Two visitors seemed to respond very well to the material, and what I presented also turned out to be quite thought provoking for some of the Christians. In all, I was well pleased with the evening.
There are some wonderful young people here who are deeply committed to Jesus, and I was privileged to spend some time with them yesterday afternoon. We enjoyed a delicious traditional Czech meal and then spent another 90 minutes of so studying and discussing the Lord’s work in the country. I’m so impressed by their willingness to engage their friends in Bible discussions. Given the culture here, that is more challenging for the older generation. They help the future to look very promising.
Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and I enjoy posting some pictures that draw attention to its storybook like charm. Yet, in a sense this isn’t the real Prague. The real Prague is where normal people lives their lives typically doing their best to avoid the tourist destinations of the Old City. Maybe these pictures will help you see the other side of life here.
Spending a few hours with Honza, Monika, Tereska, and Ondrea is always a trip highlight. This visit was no exception. The hours together were pleasant and productive. We laughed a lot and discussed many things with it always coming back to our mutual faith and desire to be better servants. They are strong, vibrant, and determined to serve the Lord. Monika cooked a great meal, sent me home with some leftovers.
After hurried goodbyes, the Novak’s took me to the train station to catch my train to Brno. Had we arrived 5 minutes later I would probably not have had a seat. By take taxi I managed to arrive at the place of worship with about 15 minutes to spare. Vítek Lustyk was passing through Brno and arrived about the same time I did. That gave me a chance to buy him an ice cream cone on a warm day and visit for a few minutes before we began.
The church there is missing Tomas and his family since their recent move, but has some encouraging things going on. Jozef’s older son attended as did Jan’s mom. We also had an older visit who has been coming to the lectures for some time. Of course, people seeing a teenager like Vitek make the effort while traveling to gather with Christians meant a lot to all of us.
Sunday morning began with a pleasant mile stroll to meet with the church here in Prague. Since they do not have a meeting place that they control for more than a couple of hours on Sunday, the first task it to set up chairs. Even the young folks help out with this. They have managed to start a second Bible class for the young people. The assembly was well attended, including the young boyfriend of one of our girls. (I knew her parents before she was born, so I consider her one of mine.) The mood was very positive, and the group seems to be doing very well. It was great to be with them and have the opportunity to preach and to answer some specific Israel questions related to their current adult Bible study.
It was good to settle back into Prague for the last leg of the trip. The weather is beautiful and the opportunities are exciting. I even braved the ocularly overloaded tourists to walk down to the river. I’ve been able to do some work on the last Prague lecture. They didn’t request the topic quite early enough for me to do all the work on it I wanted to do before heading over. I have studies with a couple of non-Christians I have been slowly making some progress with. I have been able to spend a few hours visiting and studying with one of the young men from the Vysocina. As a spillover from my lecture research, I also provided some help for another Christian who has been working on the question of infant baptism.
I flew directly from Sofia to Tel Aviv to meet Honza for a quick Israel trip before heading back to Prague later in the week. We ran down through the Jezreel Valley, spent a few hours at some newly opened parts of the Davidson Center, and drove to Hebron. Though it was a very short time, it was extremely productive on several counts. 1) Honza and I had several hours each day of intensive study. 2) I was able to do some research for the next Brno lecture. 3) It was educational and faith building for me. 4) I met a young Iranian Jew who has become cynical about faith in God as the result of a very conservative Jewish upbringing. Our discussions that began then are continuing now. (The funds for this were not a part of the expensive money I raised for the trip.)
Sunday got off to an interesting start. I had told Biss I planned to take the metro to near the meeting place to assure an early arrival. I usually walk, but the the flat I had booked for this trip was about a 45 minute walk. As I was about to enter the metro, Biss walked by and convinced me to walk with him. Had it not been for a national holiday that included a military parade, it would have worked out reasonably well. As it was, we arrived about to 10 minuets late. (We did, however, get to see the Bulgarian army.) Everyone was in good spirits about it, and the parade was a great segue into the sermon, so turned out well.
The growing and evolving makeup of the group was evident. Some of the African families seem more settled in. A young Bulgarian couple recently converted, appear to have amazing potential. Of course, Rafik’s family has provided a huge boost. There are now 3 teenagers and 6 or 7 younger kids. The group stayed engaged during the lesson and were appreciative afterwards. Their faith and growth is surely a blessing to me.
We went to our traditional restaurant after lunch and stayed for a couple of hours visiting. It gave me a better chance to get acquainted with the Rafik’s amazing kids. The middle child proved positively annoying with her language skills. She speaks: Arabic, Turkish, Bulgarian, and English. More impressively, she and her siblings are good kids who love the Lord and are thankful for their blessings.
After a tearful farewell, Biss and I left the others and made our way back into the city center. We spent another couple of hours together talking and studying before we too parted ways. I’m still trying to process all my feelings and observations about these good brethren and their future. At present, “wow!”is the best I can do.