I've been going on an annual mission trip into Europe since 2005. I traveled with teams from Next Level International into Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia. Each time, after returning stateside I couldn't stop telling the stories of the people I'd met. They were so impassioned with telling their cities about Good News of the Gospel. What I didn't know then, that I know now, was that God was creating a soft spot in my heart for the people of Europe.
In Spring 2007 Stephanie joined me as I led a team of Americans on an 8 city prayer walking trip through the Czech Republic. We met and prayed for couples who had a passionate burden to plant churches. I realized their hearts beat after the same burden I carry; church planting. And so after 12 years of pastoring my first church, a planted church, I said goodbye to the local church to come fully on board with Next Level International - a church planting organization in Europe.
That turned decision has led me on an amazing journey. As supplemental income while we were fundraising I spent quite a bit of time substitute teaching. And it turns out it was really enjoyable. After much consideration as to what the next step would be, I decided to get state certification to be an elementary school teacher. This combines my love for teaching and my passion for coaching. I can do both!
So I've found myself back in the classroom and am thrilled about the opportunity before me.
Thank you to the friends and family who supported my time with NLI. My heart still beats for the lost, it's just that my pulpit will look a little different in the future.
I could hardly believe the timing. The twins weren't even a year old yet when Aaron went on his first mission trip. How could I manage 2 weeks alone with 5 kids?! When he returned however it was easy to see his heart had been touched.
After the twins' 2nd birthday I braved a journey myself & went with Aaron on a prayer walking trip. We found entire cities & towns without ANY churches! My small midwest town has 20 options for worship on any given Sunday morning. Here there was nothing! No options! The eyes of my heart began to see the need.
The following year I returned to the Czech Republic to be a part of the first known European Women's Leadership Conference...EMERGE. I led a session encouraging the women to find & fill their personal roles of destiny in their homes, workplaces & churches. The response was amazing! Who was encouraging them? Who was walking this journey with them? Where were their mentors? These women were so hungry for encouragment and resources. I wanted so badly to help out but I couldn't shake one nagging question; "Who was I to help them?".
But that's the beauty of serving our Lord. He will happily employ anyone who will say "Yes!" When the opportunity came to work fulltime with NLI I couldn't say no! The chance to connect with these women more than once a year seemed like the chance of a lifetime. Everytime I get to share our burden, I feel as if I am literally pleading for the women in Central Europe.
Who is standing up for them?
I guess I will.
In 2012 NLI began to do parenting & family development work amongst the Romani of Slovakia & Czech Republic. I've been working with a team of highly qualified individuals to develop & implement a parent educator training handbook and seminar to bring education, hope & healing to families.