guest post by Mike Gorter
I’ve known Zach for nearly 20 years now, and have had the privilege of partnering with him since he first began his ministry in Prague. I’ve seen the numerous twists and turns that he’s experienced on this journey, and through every new season, I’ve gained a renewed awe and appreciation for the sustained passion and commitment that both he and Míša keep for the people of Prague and for living out the Gospel within the rhythms of their everyday lives there.
One of the things I deeply value about Zach and Míša is their conviction and commitment to minister to people for “the long haul.” They have a keen understanding of the crucial place that intentionally loving, serving, and living alongside people OVER TIME has in introducing them to Jesus and the true joy of the Gospel of salvation. In their most recent visit to my hometown of Oshkosh, Zach and Míša took some time to share a few video interviews of men and women from Prague whose lives are being changed by the Gospel, which they encountered while being a part of a Missional Community (MC) with the Harrods. Their MC meets on a weekly basis and emphasizes the value of each community member as a family member, a servant, and a missionary. Together they intentionally nurture a community that actively loves Jesus, each other, and the world around them. It was nothing short of thrilling to listen to these stories unfold—people who were once far from Christ becoming a part of this MC and experiencing a regular expression of love and encouragement as they engaged in purposeful time and service! In God’s perfect timing, they came to a place of heart and life change as they took hold of faith in Christ! What a beautiful, powerful way to come up against the spiritual strongholds that have become so deeply embedded in the Czech Republic over generations!
One doesn’t have to look much farther than his or her own local community to observe the sort of brokenness that surrounds Zach & Míša in Prague. In our own cities and towns, we see shades of it everywhere. People spend hours of time in relative isolation pouring into social media instead of real relationships. The widespread reality of depression is coming into greater focus. The general lack of vulnerability, intimacy, and trust within our own local communities is not so different from what Zach & Míša describe as the norm in Prague. If you cross paths with people often enough, they’ll show glimpses of desire for deeper connection, but many seem to have trouble nurturing it. Time, commitment, and trust are precious commodities in this day and age that aren’t freely distributed. Still, I think that each of us deeply desires genuine, relational community beyond our immediate family—people with whom we can regularly share life over the course of years with brutal honesty, vulnerability, and purpose.
The prospect of living life with people at that level of familiarity is, no doubt, something that many people desperately, but quietly crave, and also find unimaginable. To make that level of commitment with people requires a great deal of trust. And yet trust is gained by committing to spend the time that it takes for trust to grow; it’s almost paradoxical! But when a community is consistently guided by a greater commitment to regularly pursue Jesus, a new dynamic is introduced. The focus is not that the community minister to each person’s needs, but that they go together to Jesus in their neediness to be changed and to help others be changed by living out the Gospel as a community. It’s under that vision that a conversation, a shared meal, a Bible study, or an evening of service can effectively foster intimacy and where a formal commitment becomes simply being willfully and continually present in each other’s lives.
For people whose trust has been abused, trustworthiness needs to be demonstrated over time. I still need to be reminded, at times, that close friends are still “for me”—the real, imperfect me, not a sanitized version of myself. How much more does this need persist for people who find authentic, grace-filled intimacy to be a largely foreign concept! It’s not a battle that can be sufficiently won inside of a 4-week hourlong study; it’s, rather, a mission that can take years to cultivate for seeds of trust to grow. What’s so incredible to me about Zach & Míša’s MC is that their mission intentionally allows for the time that’s needed to actively pursue Jesus together in a way that proves out their own personal commitment to vulnerability, service, and love and asks the same things of their fellow community members. No one disregards the need and brokenness that exists, instead they agree to regularly take that need and brokenness together to the Cross.
The discipleship model of Zach & Míša’s MC also aims to foster new communities when the time is right. Over time, these new communities disciple new people to start living new lives in their MC and ultimately, God willing, in all of life as a redeemed child of God. In light my own desire to see and experience greater discipleship in communities like their Missional Community, hearing Zach & Míša’s stories of how they are effectively nurturing this sort of Christ-centered community in Prague is nothing short of inspiring.
As I continue to support Zach & Míša (& Oliver & Baby Harrod #2), I am continually struck by the thought that, as hungry believers struggle to grow in community, we still have the richness of a personal relationship with Christ to bear us up in the midst of our valleys. The idea of carrying the weight of isolation and the longing for true connection alone, without the firm foundation of being in Christ, is deeply sobering. What Zach and Míša extend to their community is an incredible gift and the light of Life to people with needy souls. Whenever I think of it, I thank God for all He’s been orchestrating in the years that Zach & Míša have been faithfully ministering in Prague by demonstrating the power of the Gospel through living lives of love—closely and consistently—with the people around them. That their faithfulness is bearing fruit all these years later is a testimony to God’s goodness and the place of “time” in His kingdom economy.
As I’m sure Zach & Míša would agree, all of that time spent has been so important and so very worth it. I’m incredibly grateful to be part of this journey for the long haul.