Randy and I just arrived in the Czech Republic (Czechia). This is the place where missions was planted in the heart of our whole family. This is where we as a family were ruined forever for the Kingdom. Our world got smaller and our hearts got bigger. Normal would never look the same again What a great time to acknowledge God’s goodness and remember His works. So lets take a nostalgic walk down memory lane. (Old picture – the 1st team we led to Kadan with some Czech leaders & friends – a life changing trip! Team members, do you recognize yourself?)
In 1998 our family led a team from FountainGate Fellowship (Word of Emmanuel in those days) to Kadan, Czech Republic, a majority atheistic country and formerly under communism rule. 94% of the cities and towns had no Bible believing church. Hannah was three. Bethany had just turned seven and Josiah was 10. We had no clue what we were doing and we had never dreamed of how God would use that mission trip to change our lives forever.
A big part of the dream God unfolded in our hearts was through the friendships we forged. It was on that trip, we met for the first time our forever friends Lukas and Dita Targosz. Lukas and Dita were 22 year old church planters. They showed our kids that age has no bearing on who can take risks for God. As God matured the seeds of missions in our family’s life, we have left friends, homes and family multiple times. But God has given our kids friends, homes and family in over 20 different nations. Lukas and Dita were the first example of the harvest of Kingdom family for our kids. We love Lukas and Dita forever! All our kids have traveled on their own to serve with Lukas and Dita on different projects.
Who knew that seeds of God’s love for the nations would be planted in Josiah’s heart to grow into an insatiable desire to bring the Kingdom to all people groups. Who knows what God has in store for Him and Brandi around the corner, but for now Josiah is the Mission Pastor of Beltway, training and sending 100s to the nations. Who knew that the seeds of love for differences would explode in Bethany’s heart. Bethany and Boone celebrate differences and value the individual that makes them great disciplers. Who knew that God’s seed of love for the hurting children would blossom into a heart of a teacher in Hannah. Her motivation to be a teacher is to love the children than feel unloved. Who knew that our kids would never be normal again.
Our kids experienced the greatest joy as they played a part in bringing Jesus to people. We have realized that usually at least with us, something happens that is crazy funny when you take risks and go. One night after a great time at our tent meeting down by the river our team was slowly walking up a steep hill back to the hostel where we were staying. We were laughing, telling stories from the night and taking turns pushing Hannah in an umbrella stroller – which is not good on European village streets. Suddenly a fight broke out at the tent. We turned. Two of our friends had another on the ground and was kicking him. We are very limited in our knowledge of the Czech language, so we all just start yelling. One young man, Jeff takes off sprinting down the hill to break up the fight yelling, “Ahoy, ahoy!” which is slang in Czech for hello. The rest of us had to sit down on the hill we were laughing so hard. The fight soon stopped, probably because the teen boys couldn’t figure out why Jeff wanted to say hello!
On that trip our kids experienced ice cold showers, strange foods (for them), trying to communicate with people of another language, them laying their hands on people and arms grow out, backs pop into place. But true to the code of children, play broke any barriers. They played countless hours of sports, participated in activities, prayed, ate magnum ice cream bars, got up early, went to bed late, made relationships, gave testimonies, learned to work with a translator, to take risks so that God could be seen, and the list goes on.
Through the play, the laughter, the hugs, the smiles, God touched the hearts of their new friends. My kids hearts were ruined for the Kingdom the day we left to come home from that first mission trip. Kid after kid after kid from Czechia rose up early for one last hug. Randy and I finally forced everyone onto the bus. Tears were flowing. Shouts of affection were being heard in two different languages. Young hands were fervently waving good-by. The Czech kids started chasing the bus as we pulled away. Before we left one child had told us through an interpreter that when we came into their town, light came! Wow! God!
Through tears of my own, I looked into the faces of our three kids, tears were streaming down all three of their tender faces. God had us!
Family mission trips will ruin your idea of normal!
Originally posted March 25, 2017