Earlier this afternoon, we wrapped up our youth retreat, packed into a few cars and headed out for our mountain hike. We walked up a gravel roadway, took a short cut up a ski slope and spent some time relaxing and taking pictures at the top. It was a great way to spend the afternoon. The trip down the mountain was a bit…wet. It started pouring on us as a Czech thunderstorm rolled into the area.
It definitely was the best way to end an amazing retreat.
I am still in awe of everything God did. I don’t have the time or the energy to write about every testimony and to lay out what happened each day. I could write a post about each testimony itself, that’s how much God did in and through us. But there are a few stories that really impacted me.
A few days before our retreat, a young man I met on the trip back in 2009 sent me a message on Facebook. He shared with me how he had walked away from God, got caught up in drugs and alcohol and a lot of other crazy things that drew him even further from God. He realized what he was doing, and since he knew I was in the area, he wanted me to pray with him to come back to Christ.
I convinced him to come to our retreat.
By the end of our three days of sessions, this same young man stood up before everyone, something he isn’t comfortable doing, and shared how he made the decision to start following Christ again, and realized that his past does not disqualify him from being used by God.
I bawled. Like a baby.
To see this young man come back to Christ, to see him worshipping God with everything he had, to see him realize the potential God has in him and passionately pursue the call on His life made all the planning, all the fundraising, all the late nights and early mornings worth it.
And that’s what we saw during this trip and especially during the retreat. These youth realized the potential God has in them. They saw that their seasons of silence from God was more about God drawing them deeper than about them doing anything wrong. And they saw a renewed passion for more of God in their lives. They were encouraged, challenged and saw breakthrough in ways they were praying would come.
It impacted them.
It impacted me.
It impacted the young people I brought with me.
And while there are many more stories I could share, there was one that really hit me personally.
Earlier on in our trip, I met a couple around my age that God really was drawing me to. I had never seen them before on any of my trips here, but I could tell that they were a part of the community here. I remember praying over them multiple times, seeing that they had kind of lost their fire a bit and that God wanted to do something big in and through them.
By the time we got to the youth retreat, only a few short days later, this couple was changed. You could see the passion for God flowing through them. They were different. More involved. And impacting the lives of kids in the outreaches and at the youth retreat.
On our first Sunday here, they heard me preach about the God of the Impossible, where I shared that right now I do not even make enough money to pay my bills.
So the first day of the youth retreat, they pulled me aside and said they wanted to bless me because they had been so blessed by the ministry we were doing here. And they handed me $500 U.S.
Not just because they were moved to bless me in such a way, but because through it, God reaffirmed to me that He isn’t done with me here. That for some reason, He is still allowing me to make a difference.
And it was something I was struggling to see that day.
This was, by far, the best trip I have ever led to Czech. Not only did the American youth I brought with me amaze me with their speaking and outreach abilities, but for the first time, the Czechs and Americans were one team. We worked together. Served together. Served each other.
And left a lasting impact on each others lives.
That is a success in my book.
So thank you for your prayers. Thank you for lifting us up to God. Thank you for praying for our sessions and free time and connections with these youth.
It was an amazing retreat. And an amazing trip.
I hate to see it come to an end.
Tomorrow morning, we will board a train and head to Prague, where we will have a few days of sight seeing and relaxing before heading back to the States on Friday. There may not be updates, as we will just be having fun, but please hold us in your prayers for our trip home.