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Retreat is a multilingual mingle for Christians in Central Europe

SLAVIKOV, Czech Republic — There was a sense of euphoria as Christians spilled out of their cars into the gravel parking lot of the Immanuel Conference Center.

As the adults ran into each other’s arms, the kids ran to the trampoline.

The annual Central European Retreat brought members of Churches of Christ from 11 countries to worship, mingle — and bounce — about 95 miles southeast of the Czech capital, Prague. 

Christians including Danielle Evans, a former missionary to Prague who now lives in Atlanta, organized the first retreat in 2003 to encourage the small congregation in Prague. Seventeen people attended. 

Paul and Katie Crook, missionaries in Reghin, Romania, at the retreat. (PHOTO BY EILEEN EMCH) This year’s attendance was 101 — most of whom worship with congregations of 25 or fewer believers. 
Matus Dedina, an attorney who shares preaching duties for the Prague church with other Czech Christians, now organizes the retreats.

The multinational mix turned times of worship into a linguist’s paradise. During one session, the Christians sang “Here I am to Worship” in Hungarian, “Thank You” in Dutch, “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder” in Czech, “The Old Rugged Cross” in Polish and “My Jesus, My Savior” in German.

Dino Roussos, minister for the Glyfada Church of Christ, presented messages from the Bible. He said he was impressed that the organizers are indigenous European Christians instead of foreign missionaries — a sign of maturing churches in Central Europe, he added. 

Roussos also taught his fellow Christians some hymns in Greek. 

“Singing together in so many languages was a beautiful experience, and fellowshipping with brothers and sisters from all over the world was deeply touching,” said Kim Seaman, who lives in southern California and attended the retreat with her husband, Jeff, and their four sons. The family had just participated in a gospel campaign in the east German cities of Chemnitz and Leipzig.

Dedina hopes more Christians will attend the next retreat, although this year’s group filled the conference center to capacity. That’s not a problem, he said, motioning toward the center’s grassy lawn. 

Next year, he’ll help pitch tents.

EILEEN EMCH, church worker in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, conducted interviews for this report.

Filed under: Headlines - Secondary International News

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