Like any other year, our first year in the Czech Republic (Czechia) was an endless testimony to God’s light breaking through whenever dark clouds gathered. As we boarded our flight from Denver, Colorado on July 4, 2019, we could never have imagined the crazy year that lay ahead. We began serving in Czechia in 2009, leading teams to host basketball, soccer and children’s English camps at Elim Church in Pisek. In 2012, the seed was planted to consider full-time ministry in Czechia, and as it grew, it bloomed into God’s beautiful calling on our lives. As we look back, it’s clear that God had been preparing us our entire lives for this calling from Him.
We looked forward to embedding in the community we had come to love, developing new relationships and deepening the friendships we had established over the past decade. We had literally seen many of the Czech kids grow up over the years and become young adults. Along with our labradoodle Cali, we quickly settled into the rhythm of life in Pisek.
We had arrived just in time for summer camp season, one of the church’s main outreach efforts toward youth. We began studying the Czech language in earnest and assisting with english classes at Cesta school, one of only 13 Christian schools in the entire country.
The first dark cloud appeared when the Czech government denied our application for a long-term visa based on a misinterpretation. The appeal process proved to be lengthy, and with our 90-day tourist visa rapidly expiring, we were forced to vacate Czechia and the entire Schengen region. Hoping our appeal would quickly be approved, we temporarily relocated to Croatia. After waiting 6 weeks there with no word, we submitted a new visa application and decided to return to Colorado to await a decision on our appeal/new visa application. On Thanksgiving day, we received word that our appeal was approved and our 2-Year visas granted! Within one week of returning to Colorado, God’s purposes became abundantly clear. Candy’s mom, who has Alzheimer’s, had suffered a major downturn just three weeks prior. During our time in Colorado, Candy was able to spend the bulk of her time assisting with her mother’s rehabilitation and care. We cherished the time with our family and returned to Pisek mid-January 2020.
We swiftly assimilated back into our lives, language acquisition, and ministry work in Pisek. In the spring, the dark cloud of COVID-19 suddenly appeared and the Czech government quickly imposed a nationwide quarantine. It seemed the world had shifted underneath our feet and may never be the same. Fortunately, we were able to move our language acquisition, english teaching and other ministry activities online. While less than ideal, it allowed some measure of continuity with existing ministries and eventually enabled us to launch a new youth Bible study group. After the government lifted many restrictions, summer camp season proceeded as normal and was a hectic success. We recently celebrated the baptisms of 6 teenage girls.
During our first year we experienced the challenges of living in a different culture, and made our share of goofy mistakes. The unexpected disruptions could have derailed our ministry here, yet instead, we repeatedly witnessed God’s Sovereignty, power, provision, love and care. He moved in amazing ways, touching and changing lives, ours included.
Told by Jim and Candy Temby: missionaries in Czech Republic.