Jeff Jernigan and I are currently in the Czech Republic for our annual pilgrimmage to our sister church in Jihlava and the History Makers and Christian to the Core Conferences in Malenovice.
For ten years McEachern has had a relationship with the congregation of the Methodist Church in Jihlava. Many of our members have traveled to the Czech Republic to lead lead English Camps, Family Camps, weddings, and develop relationships with these brothers and sisters. For the past four years I have come here to preach and assist in leading conferences for the International Leadership Institute. I forget how much I love being here until I return.
We are currently in the village of Malenovice at the foot of Lysa Hora, the tallest mountain in the Beskydy range. It is early fall here; much earlier than we usually travel to this part of the world. Last year we were here in late November, just before Thanksgiving. The year before we were here in early October, but got three feet of snow! This year the weather has been sunny and warm, but after a front moved through with some rain yesterday we are not experiencing clear, sunny, cool weather. It is heaven compared to the summer we have had in Atlanta with ninety days of ninety plus temperatures - a new record.
Aside from the beauty of the place, there is also the beauty of the people. These are some seriously dedicated Christians. The Czech remains one of the most atheistic countries in the world - 40% of its population identifies themselves as atheist, while only 3% describe themselves as Protestant. There are few, if any, cultural Christians here - it is simply too difficult and the downside too steep to be lukewarm.
This is the fourth year I've taught here, and the second year helping to lead History Makers. History Makers is made up of young adult Christians who want to reclaim their country and continent for Jesus. Our job is to help them gain some skills in order to be effective leaders. Being with these young adult Christians refreshes my soul.
And then, it's just good to get away and spend some time with God and fellow brothers and sisters. I have much more time here for Bible reading and meditation. We have some great impromptu conversations about theology and ecclesiology with these young folks, some of whom are pastors and some seminary students. Even with the schedule of teaching, the long days (13+ hours) and the time difference, I find myself re-energized and peaceful.
There is another conference starting today where Jeff and I will also teach while still teaching History Makers. A group from Poland will arrive and we will help teach Christian to the Core. These folks are "E-Coaches" who talk with people after they have made a commitment to Christ via the Internet (check out www.lookingforgod.com).
For more information about The International Leadership Institute check out www.iliteam.org.
Please pray for us as we finish up here tomorrow and start the long trip back early Saturday morning.