Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Summer's End!

Summer has officially ended! We were with friends at a lake on August 31 and they said, "Well today is the last day of summer. It will be too cold to swim from now on." I totally didn't believe them, as it was so hot that day (that day being 82), but sure enough, September 1 hit and out came the long pants and jackets!

The weather is not the only change around here, of course. Our camp season is over and we are full-throttle into fall ministry! That means following up with newly established youth groups, youth-leader training, continued discipleship, and back-to-school youth programs!

We ended the summer involved in 4 full camps and 1 week-end camp, reaching over 130 teens, about half of which are not yet believers. What a privilege to do this work God has call us to and thank you so much for your part in it through your faithful prayers and financial support!

I want to give a shout out to our incredible interns this summer. Take a look at them in action:

Meet Claire from Oklahoma, Joel from Arkansas, and Pavel from the Czech Republic
One of the themes of the summer was eating! Downtown Leipzig enjoying an ice cream break!
Poor Claire, the only girl. But don't feel too sorry for her...

Not surprisingly, Jim taught them how to cook, namely, make donuts!
Joel hanging out, playing games with campers.
Not all games were quiet and well mannered! Here's Pavel's crazy sports team after a game of volleyball!
Thoughtful times, too, as seen with Pavel here singing worship songs around the camp fire.
Claire, the best score-keeper around for a rousing game of American Baseball!

Claire at an after-camp follow-up time.

Already time to say good bye.

Melli, one of our German Camp Leaders, and Claire, sad to say good bye.

Thanks, Interns! You were all a great addition to Team JV Germany and God used you in many lives! We miss you!
 So, there's a quick shout-out to our great interns. Stay tuned to our next blog post where we will be talking about our Home Assignment in the States. We may be visiting near you and we would love to see as many of you as possible!!!

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

God Continues to Amaze!!!

So, the roller coaster ride continues, but it is definitely getting fun! Our camp last week was a twice-cancelled, and finally-realized camp! EXACTLY God's plan!

We had 9 teens, at least 4-5 of which were not believers and had never even really heard about or thought about God! How fun to see these kid warm up in the highly relational atmosphere and begin to ask incredible questions!

Some of the teens in English Class
The Incredible Band! During the last session, we went around and had the teens share their favorite parts of camp and almost all of them included the Singing! How incredible to hear all of them singing Praise and Worship songs!
They LOVED playing "American Baseball"! We played it most every day with only one split-eyebrow, ball-in-the-face injury! 

Fun surprise, we didn't know until our first face-to-face meeting with the team that this man, Thomas, former associate pastor at our church here in Leipzig, is the pastor of the church we were partnering with for the camp!!!
Please, pray for the teens that attended the camp, that they will continue on their quest for God. We fell in love with these kids!

We leave tomorrow for another cancelled, now-scheduled camp! Pray for our time there that God will use us, will speak to the teens, and that He will renew our strength!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Answers Coming In!

So many of you wrote to tell me you were praying after my last post! Thank you! I am just now updating you because it seems that every few days, our summer changes!

We did a week-end retreat with a church in Magdeburg, near one of our canceled camps. What an exciting time! There were about 15 teens there, most of which were not believers! We will be doing more follow-up with them.

Teens from our Magdeburg Week-end.

Pavel, one of our interns, sharing his story.
Everyone excited for Jim's BBQ!

Ready to serve it up!
Teens during one of the talks.

 This past week we finished our first week-long camp. This camp was in the Brandenburg area and draws from 4 communities, only one of which has a church with a pastor. This was very exciting, as we have been training the teens to run their own youth groups the past 2 years. The camp had 31 teens, about half of which are not believers and some who have never even thought about God before this week! It was so incredible to see most of them come to the individual churches in their villages the day after camp finished!

Lina speaking at evening program

Yes, that was Jim and Lina 30 years ago...Really, I was using it as an illustration!
Of course, messy games!
The girls dressed up for Banquet Night

Western Night!

Campers glued broken pieces to a cross during our afternoon Labyrinth experience.

Broken pieces

Campers in Zeesen on Sunday after Camp

Campers at Guben church on Sunday

Campers at Eisenhűttenstadt church

Campers at Cottbus Church
Please, continue to pray. We will be doing a small 5-day camp next week and we are hoping to do more follow-up with each of the campers from all the camps over the next few weeks.

No, summer is not turning out how we originally planned, but we are CERTAIN it is turning out how God is planning!!!

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Urgent Prayer Needed!

We are feeling the full-force of the enemy's attack against the ministry God has called us to this summer. Our 3 interns have arrived, we have 3 camps planned for the summer, but Satan is trying to shut things down.

Yesterday we got word that the youth pastor for our second camp, July 20-26, was in a car accident and they are feeling that they should cancel the camp. We also got a call from the leaders of our third camp, August 4-11, saying that they feel that they may have to cancel their camp, as we only have 2 kids signed up and the principle of the local high school, where we have already done outreach for the camp, has said that we are not allowed to come on to campus again before camp.

This is not surprising as to the timing. This week is Pentecost, the day Jesus sent His Spirit! They actually celebrate Pentecost here in Germany, but Satan has twisted it into his own holiday. Leipzig becomes the largest Gothic gathering in the world.  According to Leipzig's city website it is  "the world's largest meeting of the "black scene", which takes place annually since 1992 at Pentecost in Leipzig and attracts around 20,000 guests from all over the world."

This couple was the most disturbing for me, seeing the bondage the lady submitted herself to. It is such a picture of the bondage Satan has over the people here!
Satan wants the young people of Germany for himself, be we are asking you to stand together with us against his schemes! We know that God has called us to promote His Kingdom this summer and to tell young people about Him!

Pray with us that these camps will not be canceled and, in fact that there will be such an outpouring of God's Spirit over the youth of eastern Germany that we will know that it is only because of God's power!

Friday, April 26, 2019

5 Years Ago Today!

As we finished up lunch at our friend Steffen's house, he brought out my favorite dessert, WATERMELON, and said, "Today we are celebrating something." Jim and I looked at him in anticipation and he said, "5 years ago today, I met you when you came to Leipzig on your vision trip!" (This was the trip we made with my mother before we actually moved here the next November.)

WHAT! Time has flown by, yet so much has happened it seem it must have been 50 years ago! So, here we were on that visit to Leipzig.

Jim, Lina, Steffen, David, Samuel, Anela, and Thomas

Yes, that is Steffen standing next to me. We had no idea at the time that he would be such a "Rascal", but we've learned since then!

So, here we were today out in Steffen's garden, having an impromptu 5 year anniversary celebration!

So how about the rest of them? Well, believe it or not we are all still friends and doing ministry together!!!!
Yes, here's David and me with "masks" on during a game at our recent Girls' Night at Youth Group.  

We help out with the youth group in Samuel and Anela's church plant and have English camp with them! They now have two kids and another one on the way! 

Thomas, our pastor at the time, is now married to Hannah and they have 2 boys. We are still in House Group with them!
We are so thankful for all of them and the blessing of being here in Leipzig!

Please pray:

  • Next week we go to Czech for our Spring Conference. Please, pray for safety and good connections.
  • We have three Summer Interns come to help us this summer. Please, pray for Pavel (from Czech), Clare, and Joel (both from the US).
  • Pray for many teens to register for the camps this summer.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

So, Whose Birthday Is It?

You've been praying for quite a long time for our team to grow. "So, Lina, tell us, is it just you and Jim in Germany, or is God adding to your team?"

Let me unpack that question a bit, but just so you know, it is not "unpacking" in the sense of unpacking your suitcase full of dirty clothes after a long trip. It's much more like unpacking all the presents on your birthday morning!

Let me tell you a bit about how we did birthdays with our kids when they were growing up. Before they would get up in the morning, we would blow up balloons and tape them all over their chair and hang a few from the light fixtures. We would stack their presents on the breakfast table at their place setting and we would set their place with a bright red "You are Special Today" plate. Jim would usually make their favorite breakfast - I'm talking full-blown with waffles, fruit, whipped cream, bacon, eggs...the whole nine yards! Then, as they would come into the kitchen, we would all sing "Happy Birthday"! As we all waited in anticipation of the tasty things to come, they would open each and every one of their Birthday presents! This was THEIR DAY!!!

What! Wii MarioKart?!?!? What 12 year-old boy could want more than that!!!! OK, so it was 2008 and Jared has moved on to building his own 3-D Printer, but still...COOL!!!!!!

We're so excited that you have joined us at the breakfast table and can smell the waffles and bacon. So, let's start unpacking our Team gifts before we fill our "You Are Special Today" plate!

First gift - Rachael Berkebile! Wow! This is exciting and so much more that we could have anticipated when she came to serve with us as an Intern for 6 months last year! We are so thrilled that she has decided to join us full-time here in Germany! The next few months will be full of training and support raising before she joins us at the end of the year or early next year! (Sorry, Jared, this is better than MarioKart!)

If you want to read more about Rachel, check out her JV Web Page.
But wait...what are all these other gifts? Let's open this one with the incredible multi-colored wrapping. Whoa! What is that commotion come out of the box? Oh, there it is! Our group of Student Leaders we have the privilege of training to run their youth groups. Just look at all this activity going on...youth groups, worship nights, after-school sport outreach, oooh! even a Taco Night! Yes, this is certainly an incredible team gift, as it multiplies the impact we could have here in unimaginable ways!

Student-Leader Training and Youth Group dinner in Cottbus.
Youth Group in Leipzig
Let's move on to this Orange colored gift. Sounds like singing and teaching and lots of chatter coming out of this box. Oh, that's it! The greater Josiah Venture team. Wow, this gift is full of tickets to training events, invitations to coffee with friends, a CD of Multi-language Worship Music...so much more! What a rich and full package!

Josiah Venture "Winter Academy" at Malenovice, Czech.
Wow! What a birthday this has been! I am so filled up, but no...there's one more! This one looks interesting and seems to hold something very precious. It's a velvet covered box and flips open like one of those jewelry boxes from the stores I can't even afford to walk into! I crack it open slowly and out pours the most wonderful sound I have ever heard. It's an orchestra of prayers, encouragements, notes, living room visits...I hold my breath as I see every one of your faces paraded before me. Tears fill my eyes as I think about the hours upon hours you have invested in this ministry through prayer, through hard work at your job so you can give financially toward what God is doing here. You are this last precious team present I open as I humbly sit at the breakfast table wondering how God could love me so much that He would lavish me with these gifts.

Faithful supporters, Don and Marge Lear as they pray for us during their daily morning devotional time.
I sit back in my chair, feeling so overwhelmed and blessed. Thank you for joining me for this special breakfast. Now, would you, please, pass the bacon?