After a 90-minute drive we pulled up to a parking lot and unloaded our bags. “So, how far do we have to hike?” I asked one of my English speaking Czech friends. “Maybe 4 kilometers,” he answered. It was snowing, it was cold and it was the beginning of an awesome 5-day retreat deep in Eastern Europe. We made our way to a cabin built in the 1890’s where the only heat was from burning the wood that was just chopped outside. The water came from a spring under the snow and the electricity came from the gas powered generator we brought up the hill with us. About two-dozen Czechs, Ashley Denton and I had gathered for a time of encouragement, spiritual refreshment and a heavy download of youth ministry teachings and tactics.
The Czech Republic has a Christian population of 0.5%. It is one of the darkest and most secularized countries in the world, yet there is still hope. Krestanský Outdoor (KO) has a vision to reach its youth population by training local churches to use the outdoors and adventure for evangelism and discipleship. It is a perfect fit for a culture where the average person spends 7% of their budget on outdoor gear. Our retreat was the second annual KO leader training. We covered everything from basic counseling skills to sharing the Gospel through crossing a river. There was worship, rolling in the snow without shirts and some serious Russian goulash to be had. I am so encouraged by the Czechs, their perseverance, their faith; it was a blessing for me to be there with them. I thank them for the opportunity!
To learn more check out this short interview with one of the local Czechs:
A few photos: