I arrived in the Czech Republic just over a year ago to embark on a missionary journey to Central and Eastern Europe. Never would I have imagined that I would be living here and doing what God has me doing. My work is unique, and I am thankful for that. I serve both locally and international as the videographer and photographer for Josiah Venture. Everyday is an adventure. Some days are harder than others. But that's how life goes. God is sovereign. The hard and good things we experience and live through are never a surprise to Him. If life were so easy, where would the adventure be? Over this past year, God has done many wonderful things in my heart and has really challenged me to reshape my outlook on life and life in missions. In short, missions humbles you to your core. There is simply no room for pride and selfishness. Both things will surface very fast. Praise be to God though, who is faithful to lead us in all truth by the Spirit, through His Word, and very abundant grace. At the core of missions is the gospel and at the core of the gospel is selflessness and Jesus Christ exemplifying that in perfect form. Everyday I have to remind myself of this. Christ died for me. "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20
In recent news, I have had the opportunity to take on two summer interns who are helping me complete many of the summer projects that I have taken on in this season. Kuba is from from the Czech Republic and has a real gift as a photographer but also an even bigger heart for loving people like Jesus. We met a few years ago when I first visited the Czech Republic to learn more about the ministry of Josiah Venture and my potential future serving with them. Jasen is from California and found out about the internship through my Instagram account. One message after another and a few Facetime calls and Jasen found himself in the Czech Republic. Jasen is studying film at a junior college in his home town and serving in his local church. I am thankful for the team the God has provided this summer! Here are a few bullet points to give you a rough idea of what we are doing this summer as a team.
- JV Summer Intern Documentary. We are creating a short documentary of a JV summer internship that will be used for recruiting purposes in the future. Looking forward to completing this project and sharing it with you :)
- Missionary Story Video. This video will be similar to the videos I have done in the past with the Ellenwoods and the Cramers. This video however will revolve around much of what has been happening in Ukraine over the past few years and how God has been working in the lives of young people with the heart penetrating power of the gospel.
- Student Testimonies. "How Jesus changed my life." Starting next week, we will again be traveling to different JV summer camps to document testimony of how God is working the lives of young people in this region of the world. A story of a changed life never gets old.
- Better innovation and utilization of specific social media tools. i.e Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter.
After the start to our summer with JV's "amazing race" and intern training, we hit the road for Ukraine for 10 days to get started with the first two projects that I listed above. Most of our time was spent in Lviv working on our intern documentary with Brandon (intern in Ukraine), and the JV missionary video with the Williams family (missionary family serving in Ukraine).
It is possible that Lviv is my new favorite city in Europe. It is beautiful! I herd recently someone describe Ukraine as the wild west of Europe (despite the fact that it is pretty far east). And after my experience there I would definitely agree. It is pretty fast paced and a little crazy at times, but ever so full of life. It reminded me of Mario Kart a bit...minus the item boxes, deathly cliffs, and bananas on the road (the streets are really clean). All that to say, Lviv really keep you aware and alert! Our hearts were very full after our time in Ukraine.
We had the opportunity to visit Kiev and Maidan where the revolution took place and where so much has happened in recent years. It was a very powerful experience to say the least. We also were able to visit a youth group in Kiev where the Williams have relationships established and are doing discipleship training. It was fun to meet and connect with so many young people who love Jesus and are dedicated to living on mission for Christ and making disciples who make disciples.
While in Ukraine, I was also introduced to the concept of night trains. They are great! You sleep while you travel. They can also be very warm, tight quartered, full of interesting smells, and very outgoing people.
I am thankful for Ukraine and the opportunity to document and see some of the ministry that is happening there. God is good. Praise him! I look forward to sharing more of our journeys as they continue. This week my team and I have residing in my flat in Ostrava, CZ. It was great to have some down time with the guys to reflect on our recent trip to Ukraine and to begin preparing for our upcoming travels. During our stay in Ostrava we also were able to attend a "Tensing" concert. Tensing is a rock choir club run through the local YMCA. If you have herd me talk about Fusion before, just know that it is very similar. We were also able to attend a few services at my church which Jasen and I had the privilege of helping lead worship for. And as you can also see, we have been practicing out photography skills (specifically multiple exposure photography). It is a lot of fun!
Tomorrow we will travel north to Estonia and Latvia to spend time at different JV camps gathering testimonies from students. I cannot wait to begin sharing with you all that God is doing. Please follow me, Jasen, and Kuba on our social networks to tag along more closely and stay tuned for more blog updates :)