Noah Johnson – Lučenec, Slovakia
I still remember sitting in my church as they announced the short-term mission teams they were sending:
“Let’s have all of the youth stand up.” Everyone in the packed church auditorium clapped and cheered – They are going to such and such a place to do… and now it was my group’s turn.
“Let’s have all of the ladies stand up who are going with the women’s ministry to Slovakia.“
Everyone clapped, but I was too embarrassed to stand up. I was 20 years old, driving a truck for a paint company, and had just given my life to Jesus. I was raised in the church by good Christian parents and had given my heart to Jesus many times. But this time I didn’t just give my heart. I gave my whole life and this decision led me to going to Slovakia, to work with young people, a trip that would forever change my life.
I returned from that trip believing Jesus was calling me to Slovakia to live and serve. I shared this crazy idea with a pastor, and he agreed with me that it was crazy. I was told that everyone who goes on these trips feels called to go back full-time: It’s like the flu. Don’t worry you’ll get over it!
Four years later still sick with this flu I moved to Slovakia with two suitcases and no plans. I didn’t know for what or why Jesus was inviting me here, but I just wanted to help. Nearly 20 years later I am still sick (sometimes my friends think it’s a mental illness) with Slovakia, and still here. Still feeling very much like Abraham who was only told the big picture and the next step.
The years in Slovakia have been wild and during this time, Jesus has blessed me with an amazing wife, two wonderful kids, and more friends than I can count. I have experienced God’s presence and blessing in my life as well as loneliness, doubt, and failures. I have struggled and stumbled through preaching, youth work, counselling, marriage, fathering, studying, pastoral care, discipleship, and accidentally planting a church. There are plenty of stories to share (and maybe someday I’ll write them down) but for now, they include: digging a grave, killing pigs, and having the car you borrowed, seized by the Austrian government.
Suffice it to say that all these experiences have formed and forged us into who we are and what our hearts get excited about. We want everyone in our town to hear and trust in the good news of Jesus – to find a place at the table with Jesus’ community and to learn how to follow Jesus in His upside-down Kingdom.
We are currently working on planting such a community in Lučenec Slovakia through building relationships with people who don’t yet trust in Jesus or aren’t connected with a church community. We are doing this through regular large gatherings around a meal or celebration, as well as a weekly bible discussion group.
…for whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it. (Mk 8:35)