LIGHT INTO DARKNESS: PANKRÁC PRISON
Following our ministry stops in Geneva (Crossroads Church in Ferney Voltaire, France) and Interlaken (Traction Retreat for at risk missionaries), I flew to Prague with two of the Traction Christian psychologist staff, Rich Morey and Donnie Valliere. We started our time there by joining several Czech Christians to minister at the Pankrác Prison, just outside the city center of Prague.
It was sobering to walk through gate after gate, each one locked behind us, in a prison where the Gestapo executed over 1000 people using a guillotine, and hooks believed to be used to kill Jews. The Communist regime took power in February 1948, and a special secret police unit was established at the prison as early as 1949. The gallows were used in the Pankrác prison by the Communistst, first on political opponents, and later witch hunts within the communist party itself, hanging some 234 political prisoners in Pankrác Prison.
It was an honor to be able to minister to a group of prisoners alongside Czech Christians, and bring the light of the Gospel into such a dark place.
LIGHT INTO DARKNESS: TACESTA (THE JOURNEY) PRAGUE
Our main purpose in Prague was to come along side a church plant, led by friends Marek and Cori. Sharon and I met them in 2005 in Hawaii when we first told them about church planting in Europe. It took a few years for them to be ready to return to Prague, Marek’s home city.
It is believed that the Czech Republic is the most atheistic country in Europe (the world?). We found, however, that underneath this lies the rejection of an authoritarian concept of God. The history of the Czech people (once called Bohemia) has been one of authoritarian conquest and rule, including the Catholic armies of Ferdinand II (Holy Roman Emperor 1619-1637), which crushed Protestantism in 1620. This resulted in the authoritarian rule of Bohemia for the next 300 years. The Nazis and Communists took their turns of authoritarian and brutal rule following that.
Rich, Donnie, and I met with the TaCesta church planting leadership and helped them walk through some of the challenges they face…as well as help chart some some steps forward. I spoke at the TaCesta church service on “Seeking and Saving the Lost” from Luke 15 and 19:10. Pray that this fledging church will grow and bring the love of God, and the hope and good news of our Lord Jesus Christ into this city once again (as in the days of the Reformer Jan His and his followers before being crushed by Ferdinand and his armies).
LIGHT INTO DARKNESS: MOUNTAINVIEW MADRID
Following our time in Prague, I flew to Madrid to meet friends Richard and Riekje (R and R). Wallace. They were sent out by Crossroads Church in Amsterdam that Sharon and I started, and started Mountainview Church in Madrid. Their initials might be R & R but they have done everything but R&R. They have worked hard at hospitality and leadership, and many people have been impacted by their ministry. Mountainview has in turn sent out others and multiplied churches in other parts of Spain. The photo below is one of the Spanish couples who were part of Mountainview who are now church planting in another city.
Before leaving Madrid, I spoke at Mountainview on “5 Things to Make a Marriage (and a Church) Last.” Here is an email I received afterward:
“I was last Sunday at Mountain View Church as a guest and I really enjoyed your talk. It was very constructive for me.”
Very encouraging to know you are encouraging!
LIGHT INTO DARKNESS: EL ESCORIAL
After a couple nights at the Wallaces, I joined Al and Elizabeth Dyck of Communitas, and Hud and Nancy McWilliams fellow Global Training Network staff to lead a retreat (…the other retreat) on “Growing Up and Reaching Out. We met in San Lorenzo El Escorial, the location of the historic El Escorial Monastery.
King Philip II (1527-1598) conceived the El Escorial monestary, a royal palace, a tomb, and a garden, as a memorial to his father, Charles V. Philip ruled the world’s first empire ‘on which the sun never set’, embracing huge areas of Europe, the Americas and the South Pacific. He was a devout Catholic and used up vast sums of gold brought to Spain in defense of Catholicism, prosecute European wars, and to carry out his extensive building works.
The Spanish Inquisition enjoyed the full support of Philip and was used to crush the Spanish Protestant movement. By 1568, the ‘movement’ ceased to exist. Philip also sought to crush Protestantism in England (Spanish Armada) and the Netherlands (80 Years War). Like his father, Charles V, Philip was a fervent enemy of the Protestant teachings of Martin Luther, John Calvin and the Anabaptists.
In Romans 15, the apostle Paul spoke of his desire to make his way to Spain after his visit to Rome. We don’t know if he made it but Richard and Riekje, and Al and Elizabeth, and the others at the El Escorial retreat (including Hud, Nancy, and I) did. Pray that the light of Christ will shine brighter and brighter in Spain, throughout Europe, and the world.
Meanwhile, Brazil is next on our schedule. Thank you for praying, and thank you Lord, for opening doors no man can close for light to flood into dark places.
Because of His great grace and the power of the Gospel,
Linus and Sharon
P.S. Please pray for Sharon who is in the hospital due to a brain bleed. I will write more detail later but already had this On Expedition ready so decided to go ahead and send it before updating more on Sharon’s condition.
(notes above on Philip II are drawn from: http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/spain-under-phillip-ii/phillip-and-religion/; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causes_of_the_Dutch_Revolt).