–By Lisa Wagner
The Evanjelicke Gymnazium Tisovec (EGT) hosted an English Language Summer Camp the week of July 8th- 12th. The LCMS short term mission team included David and Radka Fiala, St. Louis, MO, Rex and Linda Rinne, Ostrava, Czech Republic (Appleton, WI), Lisa Wagner, Florida, and Kurt Schmidt of West Virginia. Eight high school aged students attended the camp. Several EGT teachers along with two current EGT students, and a recent EGT graduate served as helpers, and interpreters. David Fiala is the Assistant Director, Missionary Recruitment, working in the Office of International Missions of the LCMS. Rex is the Pastoral Care Facilitator for Central Europe. He and Linda offer spiritual support, and encouragement to missionaries on the field. Both the Fialas and Rinnes are former teachers at EGT and Radka is also a graduate of EGT. These strong connections to EGT added to the success of the camp. This was the first overseas mission trip for both Lisa and Kurt. Kurt is a new Christian. He found his way into the Lutheran faith by reading a copy of the Book of Concord and was baptized last December. It was a joy to see how God is using Kurt in His kingdom. Lisa, a life long Lutheran, is a wife and mother of four. The team met for two days prior to the camp for planning and team fellowship.
The camp provided ample opportunity for building relationships and sharing the Gospel through various activities, and simply spending time together. Lasting relationships were cultivated between students, Jr. Leaders, teachers and volunteers. In fact, the mission was far from being one dimensional. The camp was a prime example of Life Together in Christ.
The Bible study theme of the camp was “God’s Upside Down Kingdom.” As we look at the world around around us we all experience evil and are confronted with our own sinful nature. But God in His graciousness comes to us though His Son. Finding us lost in sin, He does all that is needed to bring us from the bonds of the devil to new life. Freely giving us forgiveness, life and salvation through His atoning sacrifice and resurrection. In Christ we are brought into a kingdom that seems upside down to the rest of the world. By faith, freely given, we have a new identity as children of the Heavenly Father. In this kingdom we live together free to love, serve and bear the sufferings of life knowing that the hope that is within us is eternal life with God in heaven. We are Jesus’ treasure being sustained and cared for as we eagerly anticipate the return of Christ our Master.
As the camp was an overnight camp there was plenty of time for bonding and fostering relationships. We enjoyed three square meals a day at Central, a local restaurant. We played many silly games, including our very own Minute To Win It competition. We spent time playing sports in the gym, swimming and making friendship bracelets and tie-dye t-shirts. One of the highlights of the camp was a photo scavenger hunt around town. We enjoyed an evening of horse back riding, a bonfire and smores. One morning was spent hiking. While one group went up Mt. Hradova, the other group walked to the lake.
The favorite activity of all was music time. We were a group that loved to make music together. We sang all of the favorite Christian camp songs such as Blind Man and Awesome God. We sang song in English, Slovak, Czech, and Swahili. We shared the love of Christ with the residents of the local nursing home. It was an amazing experience as we sang for them and then they joyfully sang for us. We also sang for the Sunday morning Worship service at the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Tisovec.
For several of the students this camp was their first exposure to the Christian message. We rejoice with the angels and archangels that the seeds of the Gospel have been planted in their hearts. We pray that the Holy Spirit would continue to nourish their faith through God’s Word along with the love and mercy of other Christians.
Sola Deo Gloria