Litomerice 2016

Litoměřice United Methodist Church

Mission Partnership

By Rev. Mel Munchinsky

Volunteers in Mission Team visited our Partnership Church, July 25th through August 7th, 2013

Team members:
Julie Wagner, Mary Ann Crist, Ernest Munchinsky, Dot Engelman, Mary Nell Woodward, Judy and Ed Taylor, Beth Young, Mel Munchinsky
Beginning June 6, 2010, many of us here at Cross in the Desert prayed:
“Lord, prepare a guest room for our congregation with the hope that we will share in the harvest of the Kingdom of God”.
 
We were hoping to start a Church-Mission Partnership with a church in Central Europe. After much thought and prayer, we selected Litomerice United Methodist Church in the Czech Republic.
Litomerice United Methodist Church is located about 40 miles north of Prague in the Ústí nad Labem Region which is often called the “Garden of Bohemia” thanks to its mild weather conditions and it’s good growing conditions for crops, fruits and grapes. The city has a population of about 25,000 people and is one of the oldest Czech towns, being established in the 10
th century. In the Czech Republic, Methodist Churches are known as the “Evangelical Methodist Church” although they are a part of the world-wide United Methodist Church. Litomerice UMC’s web site can be found at
You will notice that the site is in the Czech language; however you can use the Google Language translator and translate it into English.
 

Visit to Litomerice UMC

Our first real contact with Litomerice was Christmas of 2010 when we sent cards wishing their congregation a wonderful Christmas season. They, in turn, sent a card with a picture of their congregation in mid-January wishing us a blessed New Year. After that we exchanged prayer requests a few times, but real contact did not occur until of 2011 summer when I was able to visit the congregation between July 7th and the 12th and it truly was like a home-coming! On Sunday, July 10th, I shared with the Litomerice congregation our story of prayer and let them know that truly, in a very metaphorical sense, we had found our “guest room!” Their hospitality to me was very gracious. Pastor Zdenek Brož and his wife, Stephanka, are wonderful gifted and caring people. The congregation is about 50 to 60 in size and most of those who attend are probably 40 years and younger with children. They have wonderful musical talent in the congregation, workers from all walks of life, youth, children, and most importantly for us, several people who are able to translate.

Over the last few summers the congregation has hosted a Softball Camp for a week which also has been staffed by a Volunteers In Mission Team led by John Bolton from Tennessee. It connects with about 80 children and youth. Perhaps one of these years we will be able to pool our resources for joint ministry, will the summer of 2013 be it? Although the team from Tennessee has been there for four years they have not officially formed a Church-Mission Partnership like the one we have.

In the summer of 2011 our Mission Committee allocated funds towards the purchase of an audio-visual projector for the congregation. I took the money with me and Zdenek and I were able to purchase a projector on Monday, July 11, just in time to be used in his prison ministry the next day! This projector has already been a valuable aid for their ministry. Zdenek has used it often; in small groups, his prison ministry, and during special times of the year in the town square. As a congregation are to be commended for supporting our Missions programs through the buying of gift certificates which makes funds available for projects such as this.

A Holy Moment

While in Litomerice, I was blessed to be able to be a part of their local prison ministry which is also close to the church. July 12th, 2011 was a special day because one of the prisoners asked to be baptized and Zdenek had arranged for it to happen while I was there with him! The prison has around 325 beds and most of the men (and some women) are under 30 years of age.

Upon entering the prison the Prison Warden asked to see us. Although he had never met Zdenek or me before, he quizzed us on our motivation for being there, asked us a lot of questions about the Bible and God. Zdenek, especially, was able to give a wonderful witness of his faith. Then, he asked me similar questions! It was interesting that he asked some very pointed questions about Jesus – it reminded me of the kind of situation that Paul encountered before Agrippa and Felix in the Book of Acts. We left with him saying “I’ll think about what you said.”

We then went to the “chapel”. We first met with two different groups of men and had conversations about faith, God, Jesus, relationships, etc., with them.

It was now time for the third group. Tomaš Lance came in with joy and enthusiasm on his face. He was allowed to bring his Bible with him. Honza (Jon) came with a guitar and we sang some contemporary Christian songs. After that Zdenek had a brief sermon to be followed by the baptism. However, there was no water. Zdenek tried to get the attention of the guards to get us some, but the door was locked. Apparently it was usually open, but because I was there it was locked and the guards did not come. Fortunately I had a bottle of “bubbled water”. I told Zdenek to use it for the baptism. He poured it into a small pitcher and then Tomaš knelt before a simple cross on the wall. Kneeling, the water was poured over his head, it ran down his face and ended upon the floor. For me, this was a very emotional, spiritual experience. It was a holy moment.

No one moved and tears started to stream down everyone’s face. Then as Tomaš got up, seven grown men cried together and hugged each other (unusual because Czech men don’t hug). We sang more songs; the joy which was present was truly a breath of heaven.

The projector which was bought, we used for the first time in prison! We all watched the movie “Most” (Bridge), which had a powerful message. Needless to say, Zdenek and I left floating on a cloud!

Future Visit to Litoměřice

Visiting our Mission-Church Partnership in Litoměřice, Czech Republic is an important step helping to provide support for both of our congregations. We will be visiting Christians at Litoměřice and other churches. Our emphasis is on relationships with the Czech people, getting to know their culture, worshiping with their congregations and encouraging each other in Christian Discipleship.

 

Missionary Contacts and Prayer Support

Brian and Alzbeta Reynolds**

Pastor Zdenek Brož of Litomerice UMC**