As always, time is flying by, and summer is quickly approaching. I’ve been playing weekly with the guys at church and if you’ve ever played soccer outside of the United States, you know the intensity and skill that far surpasses our American knowledge of the game. A few weeks ago, at the beginning of May, we celebrated one whole year in Čakovec. The Lord is, as always, continually blessing us and teaching us, and it’s exciting to be a part of His work here. While reminiscing with a good friend on all the Lord has done thus far, she told us, “I can see it has been completely and only the Lord leading your every step. You went to Croatia and kind of fumbled your way though, figuring things out as you go, which shows me it is completely God in His grace who has been leading and guiding you.” How true that is, and comforting to not be able to take any credit for what He’s done with us here.
A few weeks ago, we took our first “real” trip to the capital, Zagreb. We had been there a few times before, but very briefly, and this time we were able to go with one of our friends who actually grew up there. Needless to say, the city itself is absolutely stunning. Having lived in Čakovec for a little over a year now, the size of the city and fast pace vibe was a bit overwhelming, but we really enjoyed our time with them. As we have shared before, Zagreb is one of the cities in Croatia which we are praying about for the future. I felt it’d be good to start doing some research on the city and found that out of the approximate 160,000 college students in Croatia, a little over 70,000 of them study in Zagreb. That doesn’t include students in high school and young people that are not enrolled in higher education. Even during our visit, a noteble feature was the massive number of young people, very possibly none of which know Christ. It was also sad seeing more deception of the Catholic Church in Zagreb; the worship and importance given to Mary. Attached are some pictures below, some of a wall in Zagreb dedicated to honor her.
Though our prayers are often directed toward our future in Croatia, we love being a part of what the Lord is doing here in Čakovec. His sovereignty in bringing us here to learn proves itself over and over again as each day pours forth its lessons and blessings. A little over a week ago we had a “Night of Worship” at the church. The sanctuary was packed passed its capacity and the sea of 200-250 people overflowed into the foyer area. To say that a sweet time of worship took place is an understatement. Not only were the Christians there abundantly blessed, but many unsaved friends and families had the opportunity to hear the Gospel through two young guys who shared a bit from the Word. The Lord’s presence was with the church that night, and we are confident He was glorified.
The church is continuing on and it is exciting to see the Lord working and moving in the lives of those whose attend, young and old. What always excites us is seeing “disciples” made; seeing people expressing a love for Christ with their lives, learning to follow Him and teaching others to do the same. A few of us in the church are currently going through what we might call a “Discipleship 101” course with Pastor Damir. We like to think of it like a mini school, and it’s so exciting to see people growing in their love for the Lord and desire for His Word. Please pray for our meetings, the making of disciples, our witness as a church, and the moving of God’s Spirit in our community.
This past Friday I taught for the first time in Croatian for the Friday evening Bible Study. Of course, there were some grammar mistakes, mispronunciations, etc. but the Lord blessed our time in His Word. It’s very humbling now to see firsthand how much needs to go into the preparation, studying, translating my notes, making corrections with our tutor, practicing the reading of the Bible text out loud, etc. Seeing my insufficiency in the language, yet knowing that I need to be teaching in Croatian is such a great reminder that God is glorified in our weakness. I am learning His grace in a deeper way. This was a huge step for us, and exciting to say the least, and we are looking forward to advancing more in the language and using it to proclaim the Gospel in Croatia.
On that note, this summer, a few of us are making preparations for more organized evangelism in Čakovec. Young people are out of school for the summer, the park and city center are filled, and we want to redeem the time and chances given to us, bringing the fragrance of Christ to others. Pray for boldness, open doors, and softened hearts.
Finally, next month we have our annual church conference. Every year, we head up to Millstatt, Austria to a Calvary Chapel conference center. This year Carlos Kalczuk from CC Philly and Jeff Jackson a pastor and former missionary to the Philippines, will be joining us and taking us through the Word. Please pray in advance for the conference, provision for more people in our church to be able to attend, and Jeff and Carlos as they study and prepare.
We are blessed to be partners with you in the gospel! Thank you for your prayers.
Until next time,
-Ben and Emily