The past 3 1/2 weeks have brought such a whirlwind of emotion. We’ve experienced jetlag, culture shock, sadness, frustration, and fear; we’ve also experienced excitement, joy, wonder, anticipation, gratitude, and joy. That’s a lot to experience in a mere 25 days. We’ve seen some really amazing things (I feel like America should step up its castle game) and we’ve met some really amazing people. We don’t take it for granted that we’ve been able to meet with believers weekly in a country where less than 1% of the population is evangelical Christians. We came prepared to have little to no regular Christian community, but we’ve been able to be around believers not only on Sunday mornings but also throughout the week ever since we arrived. It is an undeserved blessing, to be sure.
And while our conversations with the believers here have provided much in the way of encouragement, they have also given us a clearer picture of the spiritual darkness that characterizes this country. One of the young men in our church1 told me he is the only believer he knows of in his village of 6,000. Another member of our church said her husband was talking with an unbelieving Czech about his faith and about how hard life was without God, and the guy he was talking to had to ask him to explain what “life without God” meant. She said most Czech people don’t even have the vocabulary necessary to understand a basic explanation of Christianity. The man who delivered our shipping container was talking to the pastor of our church, who had come to help us unload, and when he found out we had moved to the Czech as missionaries, he got back in the cab of the truck and didn’t come out again. Add to all this the fact that a growing percentage of the Czech Protestant denominations are compromising the Gospel message in the names of unity and relevance, and you end up with a pretty discouraging picture of the spiritual landscape here. So on top of all the other emotions we’re experiencing, we’ve added a dollop of feeling completely overwhelmed by the work that lies ahead.
But what I think we’ve felt most strongly of all is assurance that this is where God wants us, that this is where we’re supposed to be. At every stage in the process leading up to and following our arrival in the Czech Republic, we’ve been able to look back and see how God has confirmed that we’re on the path He wants us on. At every new development in this journey, I’ve been able to sincerely say “God, even if you never show us another thing to confirm this is what we’re supposed to be doing, I’ll still believe this is where you want us because what you’ve shown us so far is enough.” I could write an entire blog post just listing the ways God has confirmed our calling to the Czech Republic. He could have stayed silent, but He chose not to, and it has given us a greater confidence (in Him) as we have persevered in this. And now, after seeing and hearing firsthand the need for the Gospel that pervades the Czech Republic, I can say with full confidence that this is where we’re supposed to be. I don’t know what God has planned for our family, and most days I am overwhelmed by what an unworthy bunch we are, but I know He has led us here, and we’re trusting He will continue to lead us as we pray and work toward seeing this country transformed by His Gospel, for His glory.
God is sovereign over our circumstances and our context. God may not have you in an easy stage of life right now, but He has put you there to do what we as believers are all called to do—to be faithful to Him and to be a blessing to the people around us (Matt 22.36–40). God wants our family in the Czech Republic now, but he wanted us in Greer, SC before we moved to the Czech Republic, and He wanted us in Wake Forest, NC before that (and so on). Wherever you are, that’s where God wants you to be faithful to Him and to His calling on your life as a believer. I encourage you to look around you (your community, your city, your church) and ask God why He has you where you are right now. What opportunities has He provided you with to reach the people around you? How has He gifted you, and how can you use your gifts to minister to those in your context? God has you where you are for a reason—you may know that reason, or you may not. Ask God to use you however He wants, and then obey Him however He leads.
“From one man He has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live…” Acts 17.26
1 Our desire is to plant a church either in our city or a neighboring city, but because that likely will be a years-long process, we are worshiping in a church about 45 minutes from where we live until we begin gathering as a church plant.