Short-Term Missions Are Not Only For The Young
by Eli Hirtzel, Branch of Hope OPC, Torrance, CA
God is doing great things in the Czech Republic! Even in a country where nearly every man, woman, and child denies the Gospel of Christ or even the existence of anything supernatural, God is actively establishing His Kingdom. Although churchgoers are few and not easy to come by, they are strong saints of our Lord and faithfully serve the church there.
The summer programs that are presented by our missionaries, Jerry and Marilyn Farnik, in the Czech Republic offer a great opportunity to present the gospel of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I was blessed to participate in these programs by serving on two teams this summer - the English Camp team and Team Praha.
I'd served previously on Team Praha, but English Camp was new and a mystery to me, so I was unsure how it would play out. I can now say that English Camp is a jewel in my eyes because of all the seed that is planted during its week of English lessons, Bible lessons, games, movies, Christian fellowship, and even a church service on the Lord's day.
The best part of the English Camp team is the diverse range of ages of team members, from young people to more seasoned adults, all working together on this trip. It is a pure picture of how the church works as a whole, everybody doing their own job that fits the gifts that God has supplied them with. Short term missions are not only for the young but for the whole body of Christ, and there is no better representation of that than English Camp in the Czech Republic.
Being a Team Praha vet, I was eager to get my hands dirty and jump into that summer work with vigor. Team Praha consists of three weeks of service to the younger generation of Czechs. During Week One, Team Praha runs a Vacation Bible School program for the children of adults who are attending a Christian conference. This VBS is a true test for the team as they are only just starting to get to know one other but are thrown into full days of singing, crafts, sports, and Bible lessons with kids that have a never-ending supply of energy. This week was especially exciting this year because, due to delayed flights, more than half of our team didn't arrive in the Czech Republic until two hours before the VBS started, and they had just started to experience the symptoms of the infamous "jet lag." But, God is good and he gave the team strength in this difficult time of service.
Week Two was upon us before we knew it, and involved a hiking trip with primarily non-Christian Czech teens, all of whom were a pleasure to meet. Hiking is a wonderful way to get to know people; you get beyond small talk and formalities very quickly and have opportunities to talk about the deeper things of life such as God, guilt, salvation, creation, and many more subjects. As young people who have grown up in an atheistic society, the Czechs very quickly demonstrate that their beliefs are grounded in and on nothing, and they are quite curious to know how we tackle these tough yet foundational questions. This results in a wonderful week of pouring yourself out in love for the unbeliever. I personally find this portion of Team Praha to have the most impact on my own life through this service to young Czechs.
The children are the future! I have heard people say this my whole life - people from diverse backgrounds who mean different things by it. Whatever definition you have for it, you really come to understand the importance of children replacing us someday when you are on the mission field. The church at large needs men to shepherd Christ’s holy church and there is often a short supply. This shortage becomes even more apparent when you are on the mission field, where elders and deacons are few and far between. The goal of Week Three of Team Praha is to start presenting the gospel to Czech children at a young age in hopes that they will grow to one day lead the church there.
Seek Opportunities for Short-Term Service
God is good and continues to bless me with opportunities to serve at the local level as well as on the mission field. I owe these opportunities to my local church and presbytery - to my church for helping me fund this trip, and to my presbytery for being faithful in organizing trips such as the one I took this summer. I would like to challenge the reader of this short report to seek opportunities to serve on a short-term missions team as a leader or team member. Leaders and team members are needed every year, and both positions will help you in your spiritual growth.
Last, but most definitely not least, please pray for the Czech people. Pray that they will turn to the Lord, that his kingdom would come, as it is in heaven.