CRU Missions-2018

Eric McDade & Kathleen Smoak

The following is a summary Eric and Kathleen’s trip. Thanks, DFBC, for your support of local and foreign missions. 
 

THE BEGINNING:

The start of the journey posed a number of challenges in the airport and with transportation, but the team eventually all arrived by the grace of God.

SURROUNDINGS:

The architecture of Prague’s buildings is beautiful!  You can tell a difference between a tourist and a local by whether they’re looking down or gawking at the buildings!

The public transportation is quick and efficient, the food is cheap but good, the weather in May is pleasant, and people are much more environmentally conscious than in the states.

THE LOCAL’S VIEW OF CHRISTIANITY:

Christianity in Prague is insignificant to most. Disbelief in God and in spiritual things is assumed. Religion is usually not taught, but when it is, it is taught as something from the past that is irrelevant today.  As we began our ministry by meeting and initiating spiritual conversations with Czech students, we realized that the Lord must do a work in their hearts. We came to the Czech Republic to grow in our understanding of the Czech people and, through the power of the Holy Spirit, expose them to the true God who is already working in their midst.

We learned that religion is simply thought to be a historical topic, and the idea of having a personal relationship with God is just as foreign as the moon! Despite the many beautiful churches and statues all around the city, there is a definite blindness to the possibility of a relationship with God. We learned that some believe in “some sort of energy” but there is a great need here for direction and awakening hearts to the truth of God.

GETTING TO KNOW THE PEOPLE:

The Czech students were excited to speak to Americans. They wanted to practice their English with us, ask us what life is like in the states, and see what we think of Prague.

Let me share some of the ways we interacted with folks…

We ministered on the campuses of two universities, looking for people who weren’t in a rush and might be willing to talk.  We had practiced conversation starters and were eager to make friends with these students.  We would say something like “We’re with a Christian organization and our faith is really important to us, so we want to learn what people in the Czech Republic think about life and God and spiritual things. Do you have time to answer a couple of questions?”.

We went to two high schools in the area to practice speaking with students in their English conversation classes. It was a great opportunity to ask about culture and get to know them. When one student told me his 15-year-old brother was in elementary school, I was initially confused until I learned that elementary school lasts 9 years here! We have instant cool points when we introduce ourselves to the high schoolers, who are flattered that university students care to talk and spend time with them.

INSERT PHOTO OF ERIC SITTING W/ A STUDENT AT A DESK AND PHOTO OF CLASSROOM WITH CARDBOARD BOXES ON TOP OF STORAGE UNITS/COLORFUL TREE PAINTING ON LEFT WALL

 

We invited all our new friends to our bowling outreach and the turnout was awesome! We reserved 6 lanes and bowled, played pool, and just talked to our new friends. Our goal was to talk to them about spirituality, get to know them better, and demonstrate the love of Christ to them. 

INSERT PHOTO OF GUYS HOLDING DIFFERENT COLORED BOWLING BALLS AND PHOTO OF GIRLS IN BOWLING ALLEY

 

We had a trivia night, which was a ton of fun and very well attended by our student friends.  A few stayed late to hang out with us and talk.

INSERT PHOTO OF 5 GUYS, DARKISH ROOM, 2 HOT PINK FLOWERS OVER THEIR HEADS TO THE LEFT

 

Our volleyball outreach was a huge success. There were about as many Czech students as Americans! Volleyball, soccer, spikeball, and frisbee were great platforms on which to build relationships and to allow everyone to relate and have fun together.

INSERT VOLLEYBALL PHOTO

 

We had a board game night at Starbucks, and several of the high school students we had talked to that day came. We played games for about two hours in the stuffy basement, fanning ourselves while (ironically) drinking hot coffee. We had to come up the stairs for air every once in a while, but everyone was glad to be there. Several of us stood outside talking with Czech students long after Starbucks had closed!

INSERT PHOTO OF GIRLS LEANING AROUND A ROUND TABLE W/ CARDS LAID OUT ON IT

 

Our zoo day was a great way to have fun with our friends and get to know them better without the pressure of sitting down at a table and making conversation. I loved getting to offer the students something, namely a free trip to the zoo, to show them how much we wanted to see them and be with them.

INSERT PHOTO OF SEVERAL GIRLS ON THE LEFT LEANING ON A WOODEN FENCE AND DIRT ON THE RIGHT.  MAYBE THE ZOO?

 

Our biggest event was during our last week in Prague. We called it ‘Friends’ Dinner’. We had food catered to the picnic area behind our pension and invited lots of our new friends. We were most excited about this event because of the unique opportunity to let them know how much they mean to us. We had a time where people could share a memory or something they took away from the summer. It was especially exciting to see our Czech friends speak out, considering most of them are still students of English and detest public speaking. The girls Anna and I were sitting with didn’t say anything in front of the group, but afterwards they told us how much we meant to them. We were so thankful they knew how much we loved them, and we prayed they would understand that our love for them was from Christ.

 

Then one of our team, John, stood up and shared the gospel. During the rest of the evening, which included dancing to American music, we learned that there were 3 new friends who had given their lives to Jesus!

 

This report would not be complete without sharing what the Lord is teaching us here.   Eric states: “I’ve been learning a lot about humility. I came into this trip thinking I had a good understanding of what I believed, but the students have asked me a lot of tough questions and have shown me that I don’t know it all. This really helped me to reevaluate what I believe and why. This has strengthened my faith and given me more humility.”

Kathleen says: “I think something huge I’ve learned is that there is a balance on mission between loving your team and loving the people you are ministering to. We will not do either of these perfectly, and we often must decide where we will invest our time and effort. In navigating through this, it’s important to be in tune with the Spirit’s leading, act in purity of heart, and recognize our strengths and weaknesses in each of these two areas”.