December 2020

‘…it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.’ Luke 1:3-4 

Dear Friends, 

The above verses are part of the opening to Luke’s Gospel. He’d followed the written accounts and eyewitness statements of all that had happened regarding Jesus and put it into an orderly account – not just for the sake of it, but so those who read it can have certainty of the things we’ve been taught. It’s so easy to get confused about what is true and what is fake in today’s world – but Luke hasn’t blindly followed a conspiracy theory or YouTube clip. He’s done the research, he’s verified the eyewitness accounts and put it together for us to read so that we can have certainty.  

Personal update

We usually leave this to the end but it seems appropriate for our final update to have it first. We are now back in Australia, we’ve served our time in quarantine, moved into our new home, unpacked (mostly!), and are settling into this next chapter. We experienced a range of emotions during our last six months in the Czech Republic. We wouldn’t recommend moving across the other side of the world during a global pandemic! And it certainly wasn’t how we envisaged leaving Europe after 16 years.  

But in God’s perfect timing this was how it was to be and, in hindsight, there is much to be thankful for. Sure, we didn’t get to ‘finish well’ with regards to the student ministry – we briefly said goodbye to some students at the tram stop, whilst others we did not see at all due to the swift lockdown in the Czech Republic. However, whilst one part of our ministry came to an abrupt stop (we had to adapt to doing student work online for those who could not go home), new opportunities arose for Clayton within our Czech church. It was a blessing and joy to have had the opportunity to lead seeker bible studies in English for local Czechs, as well as serving as one of the leaders of our church’s week-long annual English camp. This gave Clayton the unexpected opportunity of spending several weeks sharing the gospel week-in-week-out with Czechs who were investigating Christianity. Please join with us in prayer for those who are still attending the bible studies and pray that God would graciously reveal the truth about who Jesus is as they study Mark’s Gospel.  

Our final journey from Olomouc to Sydney was not a smooth one as we experienced many unexpected events that threatened our return to Australia. We had our very first flat tyre in the Czech Republic, we missed our flights, then our flights were cancelled, then our new flights were delayed, we lost documents, and had an error in the paperwork for Macs and Buddy. Yet, in God’s kindness, we learnt to trust him more.  We were especially encouraged by the prayers of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Time after time, God proved himself faithful and far greater than anything the old enemy threw our way.  

Once we arrived in Australia, we were blessed with being sent to very comfortable hotels for our two weeks of quarantine. We spent the two weeks working (Mel continuing in her current job, Clayton preparing bible studies for the students in Olomouc), reacquainting ourselves to the Australian accent, sorting out admin and resting. We’re so very thankful to God for bringing us safely back to Australia and showing us time after time that he is always in control of all things, and that he’s got us firmly in the palms of his hands! Please join us in praising the God who rules and keeps those who are his. 

Student work

The student bible studies have continued since we left and they are meeting on Friday evenings for fellowship and to study Luke’s Gospel. Please pray for the students as they lead the bible studies (with Clayton’s guidance), navigate COVID-restrictions in Olomouc that are always changing, and for their studies – many are in their final year balancing studies and state exams. It isn’t an easy task for them! Please also pray for new students to join the group, both Christians and non-Christians, and that the group would be a welcoming place that truly shines the light of the gospel in Olomouc.  

Please also pray for God to raise up a couple or a family to continue the student ministry in Olomouc and to be on the ground caring for the students. COVID has made finding somebody willing and able to move to Olomouc difficult but we’re hopeful somebody would be willing to go in the new year. 

Olomouc International Fellowship (OIF) has started again for the year and is meeting monthly (as it did in the initial years). Praise God for the four men who travel from Prague to share the preaching amongst them. They will be working their way through Jesus’ ‘I AM’ statements in John’s Gospel. We hope this will be a good balance between feeding the Christians and opportunities for evangelism. Please pray that the students will have a heart to share the gospel with their friends and invite them to OIF. Please also pray for the logistics as restrictions currently mean that services are now back online. Please give thanks for their kindness and generosity in helping out in this practical way.  

What’s next?

Mel has resumed full-time employment and is continuing with her biblical counselling studies online with Westminster Theological Seminary. Please give thanks for her job and pray for good time management balancing full-time work and studies. 

Clayton has been in discussions with various people about potential employment opportunities in ministry. He is open to different types of ministry work, however recruitment is slow due to COVID. Please pray that God would open the right door at the right time and give Clayton and Mel patience and peace as they wait.  We are thankful for this time to get settled both in terms of life back in Australia and at church (Wollongong Baptist Church). 

We thank you very, very much for your partnership and prayers during our eight years in Olomouc. What a journey it has been. We hope that God has placed the Czech Republic on your hearts and moved you to continue praying for this country. God is doing some great things and gospel-centred churches are growing. We are humbled to have had the opportunity to play a small part in this. If you would like to hear from us again, we plan to write a short update every four months for another year. You can sign-up here to receive our updates (We don’t expect you to sign up for these updates! We are very thankful for your partnership to date and please do not feel obliged to sign up). 

Finally, please also keep praying for the work of Crosslinks and their mission partners as they seek to take God’s word to God’s world! 

‘Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.’ 1 Corinthians 15:58 

Clayton & Mel

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