|Dita & Lukas in front of a theater billboard highlighting their church|
Our trip to Czech Republic was the result of our good friends Lukas & Dita Targosz inviting myself and my dad to speak at their annual Family Fest. We have built a friendship with Lukas and Dita over the past 8 years and our church, Church on the Rock, has built a partnership with their church – Element (www.element.cx) .
For the past 8 years we’ve sent mission teams to partner with Element, and watching this partnership and friendship grow has become a highlight in ministry for me over the years. As many of you know I organize around 10 mission trips every year for COTR and Pursue Missions and around 3 years into doing trips I became convicted about the way many “do missions” in the states.
I realized that many American Christians are guilty of simply doing what I would call drive-by trips. They love seeing new cultures, tasting new foods, meeting new people…and although they do go with good hearts and do want to see the church built in other nations, they are quick the next year to decide to go to a new location. They want the excitement of something BRAND NEW and they leave behind the national church planters to try and establish new partners.
I must admit that I like experiencing new cultures as much as the next person (I so badly want to go to Africa!), but I’ve found that what I love more – is actually planting a piece of my heart in one or two locations and watching God do something amazing! That is what has happened to Josh and I when it comes to Czech Republic.
Our first trip 8 years ago just so happened to fall a few weeks before Lukas and Dita were going to plant what later became Element. We didn’t know this brave couple yet, but they welcomed our team of 7 with open arms and took us around the city of Hradec Kravlove. They shared with us their hopes for the people of this city…they shared with us why they had chosen to plant a church in this location…and as we traversed the city and prayed at many locations I began to get great hope in my heart as well. I WANTED Lukas and Dita to succeed. I could envision a church in this city that had so little Christian influence, and when I came home 8 years ago I had given a small piece of my heart to HK.
We’ve gone back almost every year (this was our 8th trip since 2003). We’ve taken teams to teach in schools, we’ve brought bands to draw crowds, we’ve gone just as a couple to encourage and share – and EACH time a little more of our hearts have been given.
|Josh & I teaching in a Czech school in 2006.|
|Swingletrees playing a concert on one of our mission trips.|
And so with this trip, I have to tell you that our hearts were overflowing when we saw with our eyes what God has done in the last 8 years. Those prayers and dreams that Lukas and Dita first shared with us were unfolding before our eyes – we saw Czech people, many who were atheists only a year or two ago (probably close to 100 of them) worshipping God with abandon.
|Worship during the Czech Service at Element.|
We saw international college students serving with determination and love. How fun to see young people from Kenya and Norway…Ghana and Dubai working alongside Czech church planters for the sake of the Kingdom.
|Two of my favorite Element girls - Veronica & Theodora|
It was a sight to see, and it made us proud! And it was there standing with this brave group of believers that I once again was reminded why I’m so glad I haven’t just done missions to see new sights and to have stories to tell. I’ve done missions to build lasting friendships – to make an investment in a community. I’ve done missions many times but to only a few places…and it’s changed me more than I know.
By the way, we’re not the only ones who’ve given to this friendship and partnership. Lukas and Dita have traveled to Lubbock as well. They’ve come to support our Pursue Conferences, Lukas has taught in our Ministry Training School, and this past October – Lukas trained our staff and spoke in our weekend services. This is the sign of a true partnership – where Americans put down our pride of being the only ones who have something to give & realize that our fellow Christian leaders around the globe have a WEALTH of wisdom, experience, and truth to share with us!
May we all find places to plant our hearts…our time…and our prayers.
|Selah loves her Czech Aunt & Uncle!|
Oh, and if you read the Czech language, you should check out Lukas' blog - www.lukastargosz.blogspot.com