A little over three days ago, British Airways flight number 295 touched down in Chicago, signifying the end of our mission trip to the Czech Republic. My team gathered their bags, said goodbye at the airport, and we all went our separate ways.
It was a pretty rough day for me.
If you know me at all, or have read this blog for any amount of time, it’s no secret that my heart beats for Czech (well really all of Central and Eastern Europe). I talk about it. I dream about it. Apparently even people who don’t know me well at all know that I am passionate about impacting young people in Europe. I live for these trips, feel at home when I’m in Europe…and tend to cry when it’s time to come back to the States.
I have been ruined.
Ruined for a country.
Ruined for a people group.
Ruined for the young people of Europe.
It makes being back home a little tough.
If God said I could, I would sell everything I own, pack my bags and move to Czech. Today. I would spend my days reaching out to youth, young adults and university students who don’t know Christ. I would make sure the young people who already know Him are encouraged, challenged and discipled to be the men and women God has called them to be. I would wrestle with learning the language (have you ever seen or heard the Czech language?! This is going to be a challenge). I would eat with, play with, and do life with people who need to know that our God is real, and He truly does love them.
I would expend my life to see youth, young adults, university students and, yes, apparently now kids (God, you’re gonna have to help me with that one) in Europe come to know Christ.
I don’t know if I could have said that just a few days before this trip.
You see, as soon as we touched down in Czech and met my friends at the airport, I realized that I had lost hope that I would ever be a part of what God is doing in that country. I was still leading trips, still praying, still talking with friends and youth in Czech, but deep down…
…I thought God was done with me there.
Doors had closed. Schedules had fallen apart. And some of the promises God gave me seemed like they were never going to happen.
And then God sent me back to Czech. Reconnected me with my friends there. Moved through me and my team in a way I couldn’t even imagine.
And changed me and my team. Completely.
I am still in awe of all God did on this trip. Still amazed at how He moved through my team. Still blown away at how He took the kid who just a few years ago was too shy to talk in group and used him to give some of the most powerful youth retreat sessions we had. Or how He took a young man who was afraid to use his gifts and turned him into the guy who couldn’t not pray for people. Or how He brought a young man from the ghetto of Chicago halfway around the world and set him in the ghetto of Czech to remind him that He can still transform his family. Or how every member of the team (both Czech and American) walked in boldness, reached out to young people they didn’t know, and stepped into levels with God they had never reached before.
But what really amazes me, what encouraged me and challenged me and changed me the most, was that God showed me that He wasn’t done with me just yet.
Time and again on this trip, I had young people coming up to me thanking me for the way I have impacted their lives. I heard story after story of how my words or prayers challenged me, encouraged them and helped them change. I saw some of the youth who helped in our outreaches develop a deeper passion for God. I saw some of the young people I have known for years mature to the point that they are now impacting others.
And God allowed me to see how just being myself and caring for these young people has brought some of them back to Him.
It was a very humbling, life changing trip.
And so now I wait. Wait for God’s timing. Wait for Him to open an door. Wait for everything to line up in such a way that I will find myself more involved in what God is doing in the Czech Republic. And Poland. And Germany. And Russia, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Estonia, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania…and every other Central and Eastern European country. I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life.
Because He broke me for that area, and I know it wasn’t in vain.