What type of person are you? Do you like change or do you avoid it? I’ve always thought I’ve loved change, but as I’ve aged a bit I realize I’m not one or the other. I long for change. Change can be exhilarating, but there are somethings that at least appear as though they should remain as is. Change is inevitable, though, and we have the decision of whether we want to make the most of it or fight against it. I choose the first option – embrace it and make the most of it!
By now you are probably wondering, “What are you talking about Zach? What is changing?” I’m glad you asked. After a challenging fall that was full of evaluation, prayers, discussions and much more, I have made the decision that it is time to move on from Athletes in Action and be in a place (rather organization) that suits my heart, passions, dreams and where I see God taking me here in the future more. Most of you have heard my presentations in the past, read my blog or heard me share my heart. You know that the “local church” has had, for years, a special place in my heart. Right now I’m in the midst of the application process with an organization named The Evangelical Alliance Mission, or TEAM. TEAM’s purpose “is to help churches send missionaries to establish reproducing churches among the nations to the glory of God. We seek to do this wherever the most people have the greatest need in collaboration with churches anywhere.”
This gets me fired up because it will allow me to partner with the local church here in Prague and, Lord-willing, be part of lots of new church-plants throughout Prague, Czech, and Europe, which has been a desire for years. I’m thankful to God for Athletes in Action and the Crossan family (AIA Czech Director), for all that they have done and been used to do here in me and through me. I’m thankful for them all for so many reasons. Some of those reasons are how I look at ministry, missions, culture, the Church and more. Over the years, I’ve had a deeper conviction that how we do ministry and life here as insiders sent on a mission into this culture, is more than a strategic way to reach, what can be termed as, “post-Christian” societies, but a way of life and foundational to making a deep impact. What is ironic is that, while this conviction has deepened, it is also a main reason for the shift to a new organization. This fall I was challenged to consider the way we, or rather I, do things here and if that fit within the vision and mission of AIA globally and here in Czech. After much prayer, thought, and conversation, I felt as if God was calling me to continue to do what I do as an “insider” with football, specifically, but I’ve also felt called to be part of church-planting and connecting my guys and many “not yet Christian” Czech friends to a local church.
With that said, please know this switch, change, and slightly new direction isn’t because of sin, unresolved conflict, or bad feelings between AIA and Billy, my director here with AIA, and myself. Rather it is about ministry philosophy and how we feel we can reach Czechs with the greatest effectiveness. We, much like Paul and Barnabas, have decided to go our separate ways, but yet we will still look for ways to partner and be in relationship, as we have become family.
I thought it would be good, and word/space saving to do a quick FAQ on this, so here we go:
So what does this mean right now?
Right now it means that I will finish out this school year with AIA, in the same capacity as I have had for the last couple of years. It means that I need your prayers to finish strong and be ALL where I am now. It also means that I need your prayers, that I get the final acceptance from TEAM ASAP and that they approve the church plant, TaCesta (The Way or The Journey), I’m a part of as an official Czech TEAM “initiative.”
How will this “change” what you do?
TEAM’s local leadership here is supportive of my “insider role” with football here, so that will remain unchanged, but in place of what I have done with AIA at the Sports University and other roles with them, will be replaced by church-planting, Lord-willing, with TaCesta, as I mentioned above. The lead pastor’s name is Alexandr (Sasha) Flek, who was the chief translator on the newest Czech translation of the Bible that was released about 3 years ago. We are in the process of praying and processing through what this will look like, but I’m excited. Our church is connected with Tim Keller’s Redeemer Presbyterian’s international church-planting effort, City to City.
Do I have to switch my support immediately?
In my next Anastatoo letter, I hope to have all the details on how you can switch your financial support. At this point, I have an account with TEAM, but I’m waiting on a few things to be in place before we switch over. So please continue on with support to AIA/CRU as usual, until I share all the details with you in a coming prayer letter. I will still need money on my AIA/CRU account through the summer and CRU has a great system in place to assure that everything with support and finances are handled well. I will make sure you are up to speed.
When will this transition happen?
My official last day with AIA/CRU will be August 31st. Then the plan is to begin to serve here with TEAM through the end of the junior season, late October/early November, and return to the States for my 6 month stay, as I communicated in an earlier prayer letter. This 6 month stay is required because of a treaty between America and Czech, that requires Americans to spend 6 months every 5 years in the States. I’m still working on what these 6 months will look like. They will include connecting with ministry partners and family, developing my support base, recruiting and more.
Thank you for all you do to reach Prague, Czech and Europe through our partnership! It has been amazing to see what God has done here through YOU and I! I hope that this change will lead to greater effectiveness and more fruit. I also pray that you will be ALL IN with me into the future, as you have been over my last 9 years with AIA and CRU. Please feel free to email me, facebook me or call me (for number please email me first) if you have ANY questions, comments or concerns. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR BEING YOU, PLEASE KNOW THAT WE HAVE MADE A HUGE IMPACT HERE!!