–By Benjamin Helge, Globally Engaged in Outreach (GEO) Missionary to the Czech Republic
What is going to be in your life 50 years from now? What appears in your life today? What has always been in life? It is not a riddle, but rather, the questions asked to Czech students over a weekend retreat in the Beskydy Mountains. Maybe the questions are a bit misleading as the “what” should really refer to the “who.” The Bible tells us the answer in Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever“ (NIV). From this it seemed only fitting for our theme for the weekend to be “Jesus was, is, and will be” or in Czech “Ježíš byl, je, a bude.”
From Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon, a group of 25 individuals from our Havířov-Šumbark English Talk Group and Albrechtice mission club, Kumbál, traveled to Hrádek in Silesia to spend the weekend together. The two groups connected to provide greater opportunities for activities, sharing, and meeting new people. S’mores, hiking, kite making, and lots of games (both physical and mental) filled our time together. This was the second weekend retreat (or rather Víkendovka) that our English Talk Group had within the past year. The time allowed for us to strengthen relationships, to laugh a lot, and to go further into Scripture than we normally can during our Wednesday and Friday night meetings.
For most students in attendance, the name of Jesus was not foreign. We talk about Jesus every Wednesday and Friday night, what He has done for us, and what it means to follow Him. He is always part of our conversations. And while our theme for the weekend might seem very simple, it is the most important thing we could share with our students. Jana, the leader of Kumbál shared on Friday night about how “Jesus was.” He was really on this earth. He has always been. And He was sent by God to be our Savior. Saturday brought discussion of how “Jesus is.” A special guest from Hungary joined us. Aisling is a native English speaker, but from Ireland currently living in Hungary, and she came to share her testimony about how God works in her life now. It was a powerful moment as all the students listened around the campfire to how God is with us always.
Our final morning together, I spoke about how “Jesus will be.” Since it was the last day, I thought we could all use a little review with the help of Ephesians 2:1-10. In preparation for my sharing, I was reading through the text in CrossCafe (my favorite local hotspot) and found myself crying because of its beauty. The same thing happened while I shared with my students. Jesus’ sacrifice was, is, and will be for all. “It is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:5b).
Thinking back to the weekend, I am glad that the students enjoyed their time together. I am glad that they laughed, that they kept me awake until four in the morning, that they taught me new Czech things, and that they made new friends. But, I am overjoyed that each of them heard the Gospel and went home knowing what Jesus has done for them. All glory and power belongs to Him.