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How it All Began - Reflections on a Czech Morning and Discipleship

Written By Wade Mobley on 07/22/2014 | Posted in Missions and Evangelism

I love to be up with the sun.

Winter months test that, with early morning workouts, Bible reading and prayer, or visits happening for a couple hours before the sun comes up. Summer months find me setting my alarm to make sure I don't miss precious daylight. And is there anything better than an early AM bike ride in the summer?

I love to be up with the sun.

I don't care, though, to be STILL up with the sun due to the manic side of jet-lag. It's more depressive counterpart - the return trip home - is more infamous, but this end of things is scarier. What if I get narcoleptic in the middle of my sermon tomorrow?

It's not good to fall asleep during your own sermon.


Today I began at 4:58AM and had a simply wonderful morning. I ran, edited some pictures, spent some time with Jesus, then milled around Xcamp to take in the atmosphere. Not much is more encouraging than finding some young person up early in the morning with his/her Bible and not another soul around. Xcamp is a youth camp run by 22 local Lutheran congregations for the past 20 years or so. It is smaller than the FLY convention, our Free Lutheran Youth gathering, and all the students stay in tents. Volunteers from local villages prepare all the food, and every other year they bring in an American speaker to foster a rich relationship that has flourished through the years.

Additionally, one congregation does an English language VBS and sports camp the week before Xcamp. Dan Warner and Lisa Griebel were part of that this year, assisting Good Shepherd Free Lutheran of Camarillo, CA. Pastor Jim Johnson has done this camp wiith great success three times, and Dan and Lisa went on an exploratory trip in the hope that they will be able to facilitate a Living Word trip next year. It looks good.

So how did this all get started?

It's impressive, and it's one of those "the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed" stories. It's way bigger and better than it should be, and that's the way God works.

The fruit of this ministry is impressive. The Trinec (pronounced "CHEE-nitz:) congregation of the Silesian Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession (SECAV in Czech, remembering that in most parts of Europe "evangelical" means "Lutheran") does great ministry through Pastor Michal Klus and a wonderful group of highly invested lay leaders. Some of those leaders are paid and some not. All are passionate about their ministry and leading souls to Christ.

Their ministry is helped by a number of American contacts. I can attest first hand that the help is a two-way street. I'll write more on this later, but there is nothing better to hone your kingdom focus than to do ministry away from everything you know and with people having only Jesus as a point of common interest.

The story begins with Pastor Don Richman, who served Emmaus Lutheran Church in Bloomington, MN when the iron curtain fell in the late 80's. What followed was an unprecedented opening of areas formerly closed to the Gospel. I'm abbreviating the story, but Pastor Richman left Emmaus to start a network of ministries seeking to take advantage of these opportunites in 1992, and the Eastern European Missions Network was born. You can read more at

Pastor Richman knew about Xcamp, and knew several of its organizers well, including Stanislav Pietak, a personal hero of mine who served well and sacrificially through the communist era. Don also knew that an Emmaus kid had just started as the new dean of the Association Free Lutheran Bible School, so Pastor Jim Johnson got an invitation to check out Xcamp.

Jim was impressed. He found people with a similar heritage to us. He saw opportunity. He wanted people from Czech Republic to come to AFLBS: "Pastor Pietak, if we would find money to bring two Czech students to AFLBS, do you think you could identify them?

Pastor Pietak turned around and called over soon-to-be-married Michal Klus and Sharka Hlavenkova. The next year they were married, moved to Minneapolis, lived on the first floor of the women's dorm (where Michele was living at the time), and started Bible School. The year after Michal was a classmate of mine in Seminary. Three years later Michal and Sharka returned home to Trinec, and they have been doing excellent ministry ever since.

Looking Ahead

Soon, either Pastor Jim's congregation or Living Word will spend one week every year with the Trinec congregation, reaching souls for Christ while at the same time being renewed in their vision to do so back home. Every other year an American (usually Free Lutheran) speaker will speak at Xcamp. This year it's my turn. Several students from Czech Republic have attended our Bible School and Seminary. One of their students worked in AFLC World Missions.

And it's all because a pastor saw an opportunity, took a chance, left something he knew to enter something he didn't, then invited a friend to come and see God's work in a foreign land.

It was a pretty good return on investment.

Pastor Wade

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Thankful to the Living God for life, redemption and His many blessings. Doing my best to reflect His character in all I do.

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