December 2018

Dear Friends,

“Who can stand before his indignation? Who can endure the heat of his anger?” Nahum 1:6

We’ve been studying the book of Nahum on Friday nights. Nahum asked these questions after writing about several characteristics of God—not just his love, which many of us are familiar and comfortable with, but also his jealousy and wrath. The answer? Nobody can stand before God! We are sinners and rightfully deserving of God’s wrath, but what amazing grace is shown to all who would humbly call upon Jesus as Saviour and Lord! May this truth be proclaimed boldly this Christmas—God’s word to God’s world!

STUDENT WORK IN OLOMOUC

We began the new academic year in September with a ‘scavenger hunt’ for the international students! We did this two years ago and it was a great event again this year. The students had fun, some brought friends, and it seems to have injected a bit of life back into the group. On Friday nights, everyone now meets in our flat again and we have dinner together. Each Friday we cook for around 20 hungry mouths, and we then break into three groups for bible study. We’ve already finished ‘Uncover Mark’, a great resource from UCCF. We’re now studying Nahum before taking a break over Christmas and New Year’s. 

Please give thanks with us for many answered prayers this semester! Over the summer we prayed that God would bring new Christians to the group, and he answered this prayer—one student told us her mother searched and found the group before she came! We also prayed that God would raise up some younger students who could be trained and discipled to be future leaders, and God has done this also. A handful of students have already been willing to try leading studies. We also prayed that God would inject some ‘oomph’ (a technical, theological term!) back to the group, and he has! We are thankful and encouraged! 

Please pray with us that God will continue to use these young people to be faithful, committed and joyful servants in Olomouc and when they return home (during holidays and also upon completion of their studies). Pray they would have hearts for their fellow students that don’t (yet!) know Jesus, that they would be bold to step outside of their friendship groups and be confident to share the Good News!

The weekly English service of the Olomouc Baptist Church, Olomouc International Fellowship (‘OIF’), continues to go well. We’ve typically been around 30 people each week, but with exams upon us, around 20 or so of the core now come each Sunday. We recently finished a series called “Church Life”, looking at what the Bible teaches us about why we meet together and why we do some of the things we do. It was good to be reminded that, as Christians, we don’t ‘go to church’, we are the church, and this should influence our meetings on a Sunday. We had an enjoyable Christmas service (16/12) with friends of the students accepting invitations to come along and sing carols, enjoy Christmas nibbles, and hear about “Truth vs Fake News” from John 18. We’ll now join the Czech church for four weeks over Christmas / New Year as many of the students will be returning home. We’ll begin meeting again on 20 January 2019.

Please give thanks with us for the students who continue to regularly serve in many different ways. One student leader that Clayton has been discipling for a few years, ‘J’, though shy, was willing to preach while we were away recently. Please also give thanks for the continued support of the Olomouc Baptist Church, who have also informed us they would like to make a monthly donation in recognition of our ministry amongst the students and partnership with the church. We are very thankful for their practical support and encouragement. If you would like to contribute towards the costs of student work in Olomouc, we would be grateful and donations can be made via the Crosslinks website.  

STUDIES

We are very excited that Clayton has now completed his Masters with Southern Seminary! He completed his final subject upon returning from Australia and, God-willing, we would like to travel to Louisville, home of KFC (and the seminary!), next May for his graduation. Please give thanks with us for the opportunity to study online whilst continuing our ministry here in Olomouc. It has been a busy few years fitting everything in, but the studies have been very rewarding and useful in our ministry here and also for the future. 

Mel is continuing with her studies in Biblical Counselling and has recently enjoyed a semester on human personality. It continues to be a challenge balancing work and study. Mel is very much entrenched in Brexit at the moment. Please pray that she would be able to give her studies the time needed. There seems to be an increasing need for Christian counselling these days, something that is also recognised by others doing international student ministry in Europe.

ABOUT US

We recently had a short trip ‘home’ to Australia. Due to ministry commitments, we weren’t able to go for a longer trip, and spent most of our time there with family. Clayton’s mum happily showed us many houses that she identified as ‘suitable for us when we move back home’. We also spent a few days in Kuala Lumpur visiting Mel’s grandparents and family. This was an enjoyable time, involving eating all of our favourite foods and also catching up with one of the students who graduated in June.

The logistics of the trip were complicated now that we have a dog. We weren’t able find a local dog-sitter and ended up leaving Macs with a dog-sitter in London. The drive to Calais was mostly fine until Mel encountered some “gilets jaunes” (i.e. yellow-vest protesters) in France. Then, when checking Macs in at the Euro Tunnel, Mel was told she’d have to wait six hours (the vet had written the wrong date in Macs’ medical passport!). Thankfully, we were able to provide the necessary paperwork to be able to catch an earlier train. On the way back to Olomouc, we encountered burning tyres on the highway, courtesy of the gilets jaunes! The challenges and logistics that comes with having Macs aside, we continue to enjoy him and can’t remember what it was like without him. You can find Macs on Instagram: “friendsofmacs”.

Thank you very, very much for your ongoing partnership and continued prayers – it really is encouraging to us and we hope that you are, in turn, encouraged seeing what God is doing in this corner of the world.

Clayton & Mel

22 Dec: open-house for the Czech church family; 25 Dec: Christmas lunch with the int’l students staying in Olomouc; 23 Dec-13 Jan: OIF joins the Czech service; 10-13 Jan: Clayton at the Friends International ISM conference in the UK; 20 Jan: OIF re-starts; 1-3 Mar: Int’l student Weekend Away (talks on ‘Relationships’)

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