The voices of 1,700 men filled the auditorium with singing..."A mighty fortress is our God, A bulwark never failing..." Tears came to my eyes as we worshiped. "Dost ask who that may be, Christ Jesus, it is He..." I was with 1,700 pastors at the Desiring God conference in Minneapolis for a few days while back in the US. Mike Keller, a pastor and friend from one of my supporting churches invited me to come with him. In Czech it is hard to find that many believers in one place, let alone that many pastors. To worship and learn from God's word together with so many people serving Christ was medicine to my soul.
Indeed my whole time in the US was medicine to my soul. I spent most of my time with Crossroads Church in Lakeville and Friendship Church in Prior Lake and Shakopee. Walking through their doors, I felt like a hero returning from the battlefield. Not that my head got puffed up, but it was so encouraging to spend time with godly friends who spoke words of encouragement, laughed with me, and challenged me. I played board games with friends, told stories of God's power, and dreamed outloud of what He might do next. I have good churches who love their missionaries well. I am thankful.
I also spent a precious week of vacation with my family. My brother Brian and his wife Jen have a new baby girl, so I needed to step up to the plate as Uncle Greg. I changed a few poopy diapers, fed and burped her, and cooed her to sleep a time or two. I think I did pretty well. The coolest thing was standing up at church as one of her Godfathers promising to pray for her and show her Christ as she was baptised.
"Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also- The body they may kill, God's truth abideth still: His kingdom is forever." As I sang these words at the pastors' conference God spoke to me. For the past five years of struggling with living in another culture and learning an incredibly difficult language I have often fantisized about quitting and moving back to America. I promised myself and God that I would stay at least five years. I wanted that long to give the language and ministry my best effort. On January 16th, 10 days before my 5-year anniversary, I preached my first sermon in the Czech language. That was the language goal I was striving for. I spent these past few weeks in America praying and journaling about my decision to stay in Czech or not. I journaled everytime I heard something from God. This summarizes what I think God gave me:
I am not called to success
I am called to obedience
Suffering is expected
God's glory is my reward
I don't know how long I will be here in Czech. But I know beyond a shaddow of a doubt that for now God has called me to Czech. There is joy in this journey. I embrace all of the laughter and pain that comes from following God's call.