Ignite Welcomes Marketing Intern Steven Soto

Ignite is pleased to welcome a new member to our growing team, Steven Soto.

Steven has taken the position of Marketing Intern, where he will handling Ignite’s social media presence as well as helping to develop a marketing plan for the organization as a whole.

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A nice entry

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A Far Greater Purpose

 This post was written by Justin Holden. Justin is an American missionary with WME living and working in the town of Liberec, Czech Republic. Our Czech trip team was privileged to meet him during our time at Kristfest. You can learn more about Justin and the work he is doing in the Czech Republic on his website – justinholden.me.

Before going to Kristfest I was told I was going to be the only American there.  There was a mix of excitement and fear when I heard that – excitement that I would have so many opportunities to speak Czech, fear because I would have so many “opportunities” to speak Czech.

So I got to Kristfest, and I found out that I was not going to be the only American there.  What wonderful news!  I was looking forward to meet the other Americans, but I was also a little “iffy” about it, because sometimes Americans can be a little high-maintenance.  I soon found out how high-maintenance Jason was! (Just kidding, Jason!  You know I love you!)

But really, it was great getting to meet the Ignite team – incredibly great, really.

Just to rewind for a moment, living in Czech has been a dream come true.  As a missionary, you get to see a lot of things, come to know a lot of people, and really see lives changed.  I have known for a long time of the call of God on my life to be a missionary, but in the waiting period it felt like God kind of forgot about me.  Moving here reaffirmed in me that God didn’t forget about me, and that he wants to do big things, even with a person like me.

Being on the mission’s field has a price, though.  Part of that price, for me, is being so far from my family.  Just a week before Kristfest, I came back from visiting my family back in America.  My family isn’t perfect by any means, but we love each other.  Actually, we have been through so much together, and we have formed some deep bonds through all of the trials we’ve faced together.  Being in America was wonderful, but leaving never gets easier.  In fact, just the opposite, it gets harder and harder to leave my family behind.

Fast-forwarding back to Kristfest, the Ignite team couldn’t have known how I felt, or what it was like for me.  I did the ministry thing and let there be “less of me and more of [Jesus],” and that was the attitude I had throughout Kristfest.  No matter how I felt, I know that God has me here, and I will follow him, despite how hard it might feel at the moment.

Getting to know them was so easy; we all just clicked.  Looking back, it was kind of a nice “half step” to getting back into the groove of things here.  The team was so accepting and so encouraging.  We didn’t do anything particularly spiritual together – we just acted like “home”.  We had fun, laughed at each other, got sick together, played card games and totally freaked out some Slovaks that have no idea what it means to have a good ole, American time together. (Seriously, that night I think we laughed so loud the entire camp heard us!)

It’s worth mentioning that God obviously had some plans for all of us meeting.  One night while we were praying for other people, we ended up getting prayed for and prophesied over by Correy, the speaker from Australia that preached that night.  Correy started praying first for Ian, and as we saw that we kind of all gather together to pray for Ian at the same time as Correy.  I didn’t hear much of anything that was said to Ian, but I felt the presence of God.  Then Correy moved to Jason, so naturally I moved behind Jason to pray for him as well.  I wasn’t planning to have Correy pray for me, though.  Honestly, I don’t consider myself very important when it comes to response time after a preaching.  I usually have the focus of praying for other people that need God to touch their lives.

As I was praying for Jason, Correy reaches right over him to prophesy some things to me as well.  The crazy thing is that the prophecy was for both Jason and myself.  One of the things that stuck out to me was when Correy said, “You aren’t meant to just be in the background.”

That sentence got to me; it opened my mind to how narrowly I look at the plan of God.  I see myself in the Czech Republic and I see that he has me working with a local church in a city in the north.  That’s a great honor, but it isn’t something “glamorous” to me.  That’s totally fine with me; I don’t need the glamour or the fame – I just want to serve him.  In fact, I love serving in general; I’ll do whatever I can to help and serve someone else.  Where I was off, though, was that God has so much more in store.  He wants to start a movement in the Czech Republic, and he brought me here to be a part of that.

It is amazing how God speaks during times like that.  If Correy had just been praying for Jason at that moment, I could totally understand it.  Of course Jason isn’t meant to stay in the background.  Of course he is meant to be a key part in touching this nation and influencing the Body of Christ in this country.  Even the least spiritually sensitive person can glean that information just from talking to him about Czech.

God wanted to remind me, though, that he has a greater reason for me to be here.  The things he has called me to do and he has gifted me in will be put to use, and it will further his kingdom.  Essentially, God was putting a challenge to me, and that challenge is to trust his purpose in my life.  It’s not always easy, and the cost is often high, but following the call is always worth it.

Throughout the entire week, the Holy Spirit kept bringing the verse from Mark 10:29-31.

Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.  But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” (ESV)

After Kristfest, I went to Prague to spend as much time as I could with my new friends.  When it came time for me to leave, Jason gathered the team together to pray for me.  That was a second blessing, because it was so good to be looked at and have the value in me called out once again by people I had only just met.  Not only did they bless me with their prayers, but they also reaffirmed (yet again) the things that God has been speaking to me for years.

So, I’ve never been to Ignite, and I have no idea where Monmouth, Illinois is, but I know that God is doing some great things in that place.  The team that came was so wonderful, and I am so proud to be able to say that I met them.  I’m so proud to know that we are all a part of the same family, and that God is uniting his children in amazing ways to encourage, lift up and to call out the potential he has placed inside of each one of us.

I just want to leave you all with this one thought:  No matter where you are in life, and no matter what you are feeling, God wants you to know that he has a purpose and a plan for you.  You are not forgotten, but you are loved, and with him, you are a part of something far greater than yourself.

 

 

Set on Fire

This post was written by Christina Durante, a member of our Czech 2014 mission trip. This is her story.

Going to Czech this year with Ignite was my first missions trip, so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I knew (well, hoped!) that I would be able to have a huge positive impact on the lives of those I was serving, but I didn’t actually think God would move in me in the immense way that He did.

During the second week we were there, we were able to participate in an amazing worship night (led by Rivers and Robots, a band from Manchester…if you don’t know them, definitely check them out!). One of the songs that was played said, “Set a fire down in my soul that I can’t contain and I can’t control; I want more of you, God.” These words stirred something up inside of me that I can’t explain, but I had a sudden desire for God that was stronger than I’ve ever felt before. I felt like there was nothing I could do that would get me as close to Him as I wanted to be at that moment (believe me, I tried – I even attempted to stand on a chair during the song just to be two feet taller). Before the trip, my faith was drained, and I was kind of just “going through the motions” as a lot of people call it. In that very moment of worship though, I had never sang anything truer: I could honestly say that I wanted more of God than ever before, and I wanted Him to totally overwhelm me with His presence.

The sequence of events that happened is all kind of a blur now that we’ve been “back in reality” for a week or so. However, it was around this same worship night that Jason gave a message about what it truly meant to be a disciple of Jesus – following so closely to Him that the dust from His feet would kick up on you as you walked behind Him. The combination of this message with the worship night we experienced prompted me to rededicate myself to God, sincerely asking Him to set me on fire for Him because I can’t get enough of Him. I can honestly say that I’ve never been on fire as I am for God now, and the years during high school and college that I lost Him and was searching for Him have finally ended. This trip showed me that God had been reaching for me the whole time; I just had to reach back. I’ve always known “God has a plan for me”, but there’s a huge difference between knowing this and believing it. After this trip, I can say that I not only believe it, but am excited for it too.

The trip wasn’t all about me though like I’ve made it sound so far. During this same week, we spent lots of time praying for people at Kristfest. I’m not the most comfortable praying out loud for people, especially people who don’t speak my language (thank God for Lucie, our translator!), but sometimes God puts us in the places we feel least comfortable to reveal Himself the most. That’s exactly what happened one night while I was praying for a girl during worship. She had told our translator that she felt like God didn’t love her. When the translator told me this, all I said to her was: “You are good enough.” She immediately broke down crying, and continued to cry into my shoulder while I prayed for her to believe that she deserved God’s love and He loved her no matter what. I’ve never felt used by God in a way that had this big of an impact before. Being able to tell someone that she is good enough for the Creator of the universe to love is something that can totally change someone’s life, and there was something powerful that happened during this night of prayer with this girl. I can’t really think of the words to say to describe it…but it was everything I imagined a “God moment” to be.

This trip has left a lasting impact on my life. There aren’t enough stories to tell or pictures to see that explain the way God changed me during this trip. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity I had to go on this trip, and to anyone reading this, thank you for your support and prayers in sending a team to Czech. You have had such a powerful influence on the lives of those who went and those who were served, and that influence will last longer than a lifetime.

 

 

Sow & Water

As I went back to the Czech Republic for the second year in a row, I had high expectations for the entire trip. Last year I had seen God perform miracles, seen lost come to hear about Christ, and countless people recommit their lives to Christ. I had seen God move powerfully, and I was fully prepared to see Him move again.

It became clear soon after we landed, however, that this trip was not like last year’s. During the first week I found myself scrambling to keep up with changing plans, missed my devotions, and did not talk to one person from outside the Church about Christ.

Things seemed to only get worse during the second week: the camp we stayed at had multiple issues, transportation was difficult, and my spirits fell. I looked at what had happened during the trip and all I could think of was how this trip had not lived up to last year’s trip. I had failed. Even worse, God had not shown up.

But then, the night before we left to come back home, I found myself reading 1 Corinthians 3, and suddenly I understood. Last year’s trip had been a year of planting, in which we had preached to the lost, prayed for the broken, and cared for the hurting, but this year was a year of watering.

I had encouraged a girl who gave her life to Christ after our visit last year.

We led a retreat to bring the youth of the local church into a closer relationship with God.

We had even been the prayer team for a worship night featuring a band from Manchester and a preacher from Australia.

I had forgotten that sometimes, God sends us to strengthen those already in the Kingdom. New Christians are always a good thing, but all Christians need care, and this year we had been the love of God to Christians who needed it.

This trip had not been a waste, it had simply been different. I had spent the entire two weeks trying to plant new seeds and bring new people to Christ, and in doing so I had almost missed all of the watering and growing of experienced Christians that God had been doing. Last year we had planted. This year we watered.

I can hardly wait to see what God will harvest.

Read it for yourself: 1 Corinthians 3:5-9

Unexpected Father

“As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations.” Genesis 17:4

This past Thursday, I had the privilege of leading a session at Kristfest helping young men navigate from boyhood to manhood.

I’ve been excited about the session ever since I was asked to lead it back in April.

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In It All

This year, I experienced a new Czech first while at Kristfest.

I got sick.
Like, really, really sick.

We still don’t know what disease swept through the camp, but early Tuesday morning, over 30 people found themselves incredibly sick.

Diarrhea.
Vomitting.
Whole body aches.

Four people even went to the hospital.

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Known By Name

This year during our week of outreaches in Cesky Tesin, I was struck by the number of kids from the community who knew my name.

We would walk into an event, and all I would hear was a resounding Jason from the younger kids.

I didn’t know many of them – probably only talked to them a few times, led an event they participated in, or gave them a hi-five sometime during a past trip – but they knew me, and made sure to say Hello, Jason every time they saw me.

It was a weird feeling.

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Blessing Behind the Fear

Fear. It’s been an attractive factor of our trip this year.

Every night during our time of outreaches, we’ve put various young people through a number of competitions in fear factor-ish style.

And it’s been great.

Of all the events we’ve done – be it workshops, community dinners, speed dating, and even our showcase – the fear factor events we planned were the most attractive.

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Wake Within Me

Every year as we get ready to head to Czech, I tend to get a single song stuck in my head. It’s a song I end up playing over and over again. A song I whistle and hum to myself. A song that makes me pray harder – and begin to cry – about what God wants to do.

This year, that song was Wake.

And God has been using it to stir within all of our hearts.

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