When was the last time you were at church and the guy announcing an outreach ministry begins with a story about someone attempting suicide? That’s what happened this morning at our church in Czech. The man sharing was introducing a ministry called “Alpha” which, from what I could I gain through our translator, is designed to help people share their faith with those in their workplaces and neighborhoods. The story he was sharing was from his own work where a mom asked to leave work early because her son was trying to commit suicide. He continued that people at his work know he’s a Christian and are willing to share things with him. As well, he shared that in the case of the woman he asked her if he could pray for her son before she left and she said “OK.” This man encouraged the body to continue to tell others about Christ and the gospel, and invited them to “Alpha” where they can gain training and tools to aid in their own evangelism.
Watching the nationals in our church is so encouraging and spurs our own missionary family on towards gospel ministry in this place. Lord willing, more people will come to Christ because of that ministry, our church here, and the faithful witnesses of Christ.
Church today went almost three hours long. Our kids did exceptional, but we ended up going outside around the two hour, fifteen minute mark. There was a lot going on, including an entire group of students that recently came back from camp who shared about their experience and sang a few songs (video above of one part of one song). We also had a guest speaker, communion, and an extended prayer time. School will start here tomorrow (Sept. 1) and the pastors wanted to pray for all the kids in the church so they asked them to come forward and the pastors and elders prayed individually for students, teachers, and families. The place was very full today so the lines for prayer went all the way to the back and we watched as the pastors would place hands on the families and students and pray (photo below).
Bethany and I talked during lunch about how to respond to a longer service. We feel the burden of living in two worlds now: World #1 (the more American view): Being on time is right and good. It honors God to be on time–church services should end on time. World #2 (maybe a more Czech view?): Spending time with your church family is right and good. If the service goes long, it’s just extra time for prayer and fellowshipping with other believers which is a joy and encouragement–it’s OK if the service goes long. It’s a Sunday dichotomy. Both feel right and good, but you can’t have both at the same time.
I like what one friend told me in the States. On the possibility that the service might go long on a particular Sunday he told me, “Hey, you really don’t hear people complaining when the football game goes into over time.” I think he’s right. Often we (Americans) make exceptions in our minds for sports and entertainment, but not so much for church. I know I do this and am guilty of complaining when church doesn’t end when I think it should. Maybe I do need look at the other side and learn from my Czech brothers and sisters that spending a little more time at church might just be a joy and not a burden. It’s like what our Czech pastor said today about the service running long, “We love our children and our teachers. This is the wisest thing for us to do.” Amen, brother.
Above is a photo of Titus with his hands in his pockets just watching the service. We like that kid.
Towards the end of the service there were a lot of kids outside. The boys turned the grass area into a scene from Braveheart, each boy for himself with a stick for a sword. We had no clue where the other parents were.
Finally, our two little ones which seem to betting bigger every day. Thanks to Bethany they always look so nice when we go to church.