Posted on October 2, 2013 Posted By: Pastor Jeff JacksonCategories: Blog
As usual, the summer flew by, and before we knew it, as the Croatian saying goes, we’d gone straight from swimsuits to jackets. This process pretty much happens overnight, and before you have time to say, “Autumn,” its presence is already upon you. We are gladly welcoming our favorite season of the year along with its numerous upcoming events. But, before we get to the exciting things ahead, we wanted to share how the past few months have been in the lives of the Spectors and the great church body we’re apart of.
Before I begin, I wanted to give thanks to our amazing God who calls us to do His work and then completely enables us to do so. This month we are celebrating two years in Croatia! Looking back, we remember those two 20-year-old kids (which I guess we still are!) who hopped on a plane to Croatia, with no idea of what was in store, full of excitement and fear of the future. Yet, in light of all the Lord has done, we wonder now why we ever feared at all. God has lead us so perfectly and in such intricately detailed ways over the past two years, we can say with confidence in His name, that who and where we are now is all His doing. Glory to God!
In August, Ben had the opportunity to teach his first Sunday morning sermon in Croatian. Emily’s family was visiting, and in light of the fact that both Pastor Damir and the regular translator were on vacation, Emily translated for her family in the back. It was a very exciting day of seeing the Lord’s grace in our progress with the language.
As mentioned previously, Emily’s family was able to visit for three weeks in August. Words cannot even describe the blessedness of their trip and the time we spent together. Some of it was spent traveling to the surrounding areas. Čakovec borders with Hungary and Slovenia, and is only a couple of hours from Austria. We were able to spend time at the Calvary Chapel Missions Conference in Millstatt, Austria. It was a very sweet time of fellowship with old friends, and great teaching. The final week with Emily’s family was spent here in Čakovec. It was amazing being able to share our lives with them and seeing them experience the very culture, we ourselves are still learning. They had a wonderful time and though our departure was embittered by tears, memories made will bring a thousand smiles to come.
While waiting at the airport for check in, the Croatian national soccer team showed up! They were on their way to play the Serbian national team and were wandering through the airport. Right away we noticed a star player, Mario Mandžukić, because of previous games we’d watched. Ben got a picture with him, and it definitely lifted our spirits in light of our family’s departure. We watched the game against Serbia the following day with some friends, and Mandžukić scored the only goal that night for Croatia during the game, which ended in a tie. Obviously, his luck was tied to meeting us the day before, so we were pretty stoked. Ben gave him a call afterwards to congratulate him…not. We just like to think we are friends now.
Probably our sweetest praise report yet is regarding our group for young people that meets on Friday nights. Ben recently started going through the Gospel of John and is teaching every week in Croatian. Without a doubt, the Lord is working in great ways among them. He is drawing us into a closer relationship with himself, purging our lives, giving us more of a desire for Him, and much more. We are in awe as we watch him work and are so grateful to be a part of it!
Also, recently, the young people from one of the Baptist churches outside of Cakovec started a prayer and worship night on Wednesdays. It is open to the young people from all the churches to come and join in unity and in praise to our God. So far, we’ve experienced two of these meetings, and each time the Lord has met us with His presence and done amazing things in our hearts. Unity between the churches has been a long time prayer of ours since we moved here, and to finally see young people from different churches gathering together in prayer for their nation is a blessing. God is working in this place and is gathering up laborers for His harvest. We truly believe that revival is coming among the Croatian people, and will begin with meetings such as these.
Our first big youth event is also coming up this Fall. Ben and another close friend, Sven, are starting to organize a mini youth conference on November 16, to which we will invite young people from churches stretching from this region of Croatia to Zagreb. We also desired the conference to be a form of outreach, so with enough planning, we will be making flyers for young people in churches to give to their friends at school, work, etc. The conference will be all afternoon. Please pray for this time, the preparation of hearts, and for the Lord to be with Sven and Ben as they prepare to share.
Lastly, please pray for this weekend, as our worship team will be heading to the mountains for a “worship get-away”. It is on our hearts to spend time praying, possibly song-writing or translating (songs from English), fellowshipping, and of course eating together. We are going to a Christian property in the wilderness that houses retreats for church groups throughout Croatia. We are very excited to have this time together. Please pray for traveling mercies and that our time would be enriched in the Lord.
Thank you again so much for your prayers and support. It seems like with every newsletter we send out, things are getting more and more exciting in our lives here. The Lord is doing great things among us and in our hearts, and we’re so grateful for you all in coming alongside of His work.