by Mike Tilley
Drew and Becky Stephens live in Prague, Czech Republic, where Drew serves as pastor of the International Church of Prague (ICP). The church of 280 draws people from many countries to its English-language worship service. Of the four elders in the church, two are American, one is British, and another is Chinese. The church began in 1990 as a Bible study for people working in the British and American embassies. Today, the church is reaching internationals (ex-pats from various countries), Czech nationals, and immigrants from the Middle East and Africa.
To better reach immigrants from many countries, ICP began a ministry center right off the main square in downtown Prague. Refugees are offered a meal and a chance to shop for clothes in the basement. They can get haircuts, Czech lessons, and even access to a lawyer who is an advocate with the Czech government. New fellowships are being started for various sub-cultures within the church, such as Filipinos, Indonesians, and Chinese. Recent baptisms have included people from the Arab world.
The ministry center location is not for the faint of heart. The staff and volunteers walk past 500 sex workers each day. Drew and Becky are truly on the "front lines" of the gospel!
Drew Stephens is just one of many pastors who attended this year’s Pastors Retreat, held October 23-27 in Germany. Retreat attendees included front-line pastors from Moscow, Budapest, Nice, Marseille, Munich and other European cities. ICC's dream for all of these churches is the same: to be flourishing, gospel-centered churches reaching internationals, in-country nationals, and immigrants.
Molly and I know how much stress pastoral ministry can put on a marriage. This stress is especially intense in Europe, and we have seen marriages struggle. That’s why Molly taught a seminar for pastors called, “What Your Wife is Trying to Tell You.” Molly should know. She has a lot of experience trying to get through to a stubborn husband!
My part was to teach a 3-part seminar series on “Gospel-Centered Leadership.” These pastors need tools to lead effectively on such a complex playing field. I also worked with the Euro Team, a group of pastors on the continent who guide the overall work of ICC. In addition to the strategic work we do together, I’ve enjoyed growing friendships with each of these guys.
I’m thankful that the Global Missions Team from my own church (Lake Baldwin Church in Orlando, FL) has adopted ICC as one of our global partners. The partnership has grown as leaders from Europe have visited LBC, and as our church has freely lent expertise to the work in Europe. This has included Joel Pollard leading worship for the pastors the last two years, along with Katie Pollard designing and maintaining the ICC web site.
We all can play a part to advance the gospel all over the world through our prayers and investment in a global vision.
Mike Tilley is the Senior Pastor of Lake Baldwin Church in Orlando, Florida. Along with preaching, pastoral care, and forward-thinking leadership, Mike loves to invest in developing leaders for the future. Since the beginning of LBC in 2006, Mike and Molly have worked to create a culture where people can grow and use their gifts.