Where We Serve
Coming Up This Fall
KOS Choir Visiting in November!
On November 9, we will welcome 40 Czech students!
You can partner with us by:
- Becoming one of our Housing Families (2 nights)
- Helping us to find sponsorship for food and attractions
- Booking a concert for your church or community
(see open dates above)
Please help us to fund the mission - click on the GIVE button above and make a tax-deductible donation.
Recent mission trips
Eleven days of amazing ministry
(Please click on each DAY to see video clips)
DAY 1 - Prague (Czechia, capitol city) - We arrived in Prague. After collecting all the team members from four different flights, we made our way into the old town, got some food and met with a couple of leaders. Here is how God works: For various reasons, we initially could not get an official outreach concert in Vienna, Austria. Then we sat down with Inka (see video), who happens to direct an accomplished kids choir touring Austria next week. She invited us to join them for a concert at St. Peterskirche in Vienna on Monday, in fact, they needed another 30 minutes of music for the full program… That will be us - by God’s grace. Amazing!
DAY 2 - Olomouc (Northern Moravia) - Today our little gospel group sang in the city of Olomouc making a special guest appearance in an international vocal ensemble competition. Just before our performance, they escorted in about 300 kids - members of various kids choirs. They were sitting all over the place in this quaint concert hall and got a little noisy at times… but I was able to share a quick testimony with them from Isaiah 53 and we sang our hearts out (see video). Tomorrow will be a big day for street ministry. We’re all tired from lack of sleep, but the Lord is blessing us!
DAY 3 - Olomouc, (Northern Moravia) - An incredible
day of ministry. We sang at various public sites in the
city of Olomouc (celebrating450 years). We had 20
minutes on the main stage as part of the televised
performances. I was able to share the Lord with the
crowd and our team started handing out Bibles -
about 50 of them were received by the Czech people
in minutes (very unusual). A business man ran up to
me and shared he was staying in a hotel and found a
Bible in a drawer. He heard a voice saying to him “take
it and read it.” He thought he was mistaken. The next
day, he came to Olomouc and kept thinking about it. He walked on the main square and was drawn closer by our gospel music. He saw me lifting up the Bible and saying to the people, "take it and read it, this is God’s Word." He said to me, “I did not want to take the hotel Bible, but then I heard the same invitation and I had to come forward and receive one so I can start reading it.” I wound up praying with him to come to Jesus - he was over 50 years old.
DAY 4 - Vsetin, (East-Central Moravia) - Today, our team worshipped in two churches in Vsetin that belong to the Majak (Lighthouse) Network. We served and sang in a Czech speaking congregation in the morning and Ukrainian church at 4pm. My friend, Pastor Bedrich Smola (see video) is the church planter and lead pastor of the network. God is blessing his ministry. I have know him since his youth pastor years in my home region. His church has helped thousands of Ukrainian war refugees and soon after the war started, he planted a Ukrainian church. Their worship service was very moving. Just imagine your comfortable home in the USA was destroyed by the enemy forces and you had to move to Mexico, Brazil, or another foreign speaking country and start over… How would that change your worship?
DAY 5 - Vienna (Austria, capitol city) - We are in Vienna, Austria. This afternoon, we joined the Jiricky Children’s Choir for a concert facilitated by the Czech Embassy at the Peterskirche Cathedral. Impressive place… You may remember, we were unexpectedly invited to be the surprise guests (see post from Day 1). The place was packed with people from many nations. We gave about a half of the concert but the best thing happened after… As the kids were waiting outside for the conductor, I incited them to start singing gospel songs with us on the street. It didn't take ten seconds for them to get on board and start singing for dozens of tourists that quickly crowded the walkway. Street evangelism improvisation… Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Mat. 19:14)
DAY 6 - Vienna (Austria, capitol city) - Today was a day of rest, at least mentally somewhat - the only day when we don’t have a ministry concert on our schedule. We managed to see a few historical parts of the city despite a heavy rain in the afternoon … I just received an email with a link to the live broadcast of the Winners Concert from the Festival of Songs in Olomouc from two days ago. The Sust Family Singers made a guest appearance singing for about 500 festival participants (singers) from six European countries. Singing for trained singers is not easy because you know that everyone knows if things don’t go well… But we were grateful for the opportunity to sing God’s Word - plus a little musical joke at the end. I think the audience (made up of mostly high school and college students) really loved it. Take a look - click on DAY 6, the Sust Family Singers are on at about the 1 hour and 26 minute mark.
DAY 7 - Hradec Kralove (East Czech Region) - We made our way back to Czechia with a couple of stops in historical places. In the evening we sang and evangelized in my home town of Hradec Kralove. We were the honored guests of the Smetana Choir and had a full hour to present our program. At the end, as always, I shared the gospel and our team handed out dozens of Bibles to the people in the audience. We also interacted with them during a nice reception the Smetana Choir prepared for everyone. Many people came forward and thanked us for bringing God and the gospel back to this country. There was a moment in the concert when the Spirit just broke through and we simply worshipped the Lord in this old castle concert hall… The recording does not fully capture the glory present, but here is a clip anyway…
DAY 8 - Pardubice (East Czech Region) - We are in Pardubice, Czechia, the home town of the well known Bonifantes Boys Choir. They invited us to sing a concert with them in the beautiful castle court (with peacocks walking around). We heard several of their groups from the little ones to the outstanding concert choir that performs all around the world. We also performed for about 30 minutes (see clip) - with a clear gospel presentation and giving away Czech Bibles. I have noticed that in this post-Covid culture, people are more open. Before, most of them used to frown and reject the Word, but during this mission trip our team handed out 40-50 Bibles in each concert. Praise God! We are living out Ephesians 2:10.
DAY 9 - Litomyšl (East Czech Region) - Litomyšl, Czechia, is a place of God’s favor for us. ￼Many students and even teaches at a local pedagogy school here came to Christ through our ministry. The choir director, Dr. Milan Motl, became a Christian a few years ago. This afternoon, we gave a joint concert with his group at the Brandys nad Orlici Hot Springs recovery facility singing about Jesus in front of many ￼afflicted people. My daughter, Christy, gave a powerful testimony, sharing about her own struggle with type one diabetes. She said to them: “I believe that God did not heal me yet, so I could share with you today about the power of Christ working through my own affliction.” She presented the gospel and shared about God’s promise of eternal healing ￼in Jesus. We could sense the presence of the Holy Spirit during our singing. At the end, we sang gospel song together with ￼the Czech student choir. It was amazing! The Director of the facility gave us permission to minister to the patients. Over 30 of them ￼received the Bible. The students in the Czech choir watched us. I got to talk to them and encouraged them to begin reading the Word of God. About a dozen of students came up asking us for a Bible. We had some great conversations. Too bad they had to get on the bus so soon to go￼ back to school. Please pray for them, this is a great singing group we will be hosting in Florida in November. I can’t wait - no doubt, the Lord is empowering this work so that they may be saved!
DAY 10 - Pirna (Northern Germany) - Our first stop in Germany was in Pirna, about 15 miles south of Dresden. A local FeG church plant (this is the German E-Free) moved to a new facility, a building that belongs to a declining traditional congregation. This weekend was their first worship service, so on Saturday they organized a wonderful June Fest and invited the existing old church and the whole neighborhood with a concert at the end provided by our team. We presented parts of Mendelssohn’s Elijah and a number of gospel songs. They really appreciated the music. - I remember, about 15 years ago, I brought a different music team to help a church plant in Dresden. They are now a thriving, Bible teaching, healthy congregation that also has a music school with 1200 students. They planted other churches like this one in Pirna. Awesome! - Don’t despise the days of small beginnings! Please pray that this little church will grow and bring light and life to the German people.
DAY 11 - Dresden (Northern Germany) - This is our final day. Tomorrow morning, most team members will fly back home to the USA. We are all so grateful for a rich time of ministry, for God’ presence and protection as well as the good fellowship during this mission trip. It feels just right that we would finish up serving during the Sunday morning worship service lifting up the name of Jesus along with our German brothers and sisters. I love international worship. It gives us a small glimpse of heaven where we will sing praise with people from every tribe, nation and tongue. Below is the link, if you want to take a look. Our team is present from the opening call to the final prayer. We sang three special ensemble songs and some of us got to lead all the congregational music. The Dresden church is very diverse, both ethnically and in expression, but there was a point when we sang “The Blessing” (at about 1:22:35) when the whole church entered into a powerful and unhindered outpouring of praise as the Spirit moved many to tears. ‘He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus.’
Twenty Years of Friendships - The BONIFANTES Mens' Chorus Tour
In July 2022, during one of our mission trips to Central Europe, while in the Czech Republic, we reconnected with Jan Misek, a very gifted choral conductor and the director of a world-class boy's choir, the Bonifantes. In fact, we were blessed to perform a public concert together in their home city of Pardubice as a benefit in support of the Ukrainian refugees. The concert was amazing and at the end we got to share Christ with the audience and hand out dozens of Czech Bibles. Here is one of the songs we sang together:
In December, we welcomed the Bonifantes Mens' Chorus in Florida for their first tour (December 1-13, 2022). This group has a very impressive resume that includes international awards, work with international symphony orchestras and opera companies as well as their own educational and operational structures. Over 350 boys, teenagers and young men participate in this multi-level musical body. This time around, we are brought only the older members of the group, ages 16-28. The tour started in Naples and ended in Vero Beach with seven other cities in between - all together ten wonderful concerts. We worked together with churches, schools and cultural organizations that provided not only the singing opportunities but also many volunteers to help with housing and food.
For me personally, the best part was not only to sing with the Czech choir (along with my wife and daughter), but to once again have the platform to share Christ and present the gospel to hundreds (cumulatively thousands) of people in the audiences. We premiered a new song called "Turas" (Gaelic word for "Journey"), which was based on old Scottish folk song, but supplied with new lyrics that in the five verses of the song shared all the main events of the earthly life of Jesus, from birth to the resurrection. The song was also a great tool to introduce the Czech students to the message of the gospel in addition to a couple of good Bible studies we did with them, sermons they heard during worship services in various Christian churches and many personal questions and answers about God.
We spent two great weeks traveling with the Czech singers in Florida and then followed them to Europe for ten more days presenting six more evangelistic concerts, two in Germany and four in the Czech Republic. Sixteen concerts in December was a lot! We returned home quite exhausted, but rejoicing in how the Lord used us to glorify Him and make him known to many who desperately need His salvation! Praise God for this mission work - we love every minute of it!
A Gift Beyond Music
(An article about the visit of the Czech student group, "The Smiling String Orchestra")
They returned back home on March 15, 2022. Twenty gifted teenagers from the Czech Republic led by a great director with a vision. "There is a reason the group is called the Smiling String Orchestra," said one of the partnering producers after a performance that brought the audience out of their seats several times during one of their outstanding concerts.
If you know us, you also know that this is one of our signature ministries at Vertical Fellowship: bringing Czech student groups to the USA and taking them on tour. But that’s barely half of the story. Music comes and goes, but its greater purpose as a vehicle for the gospel, overture to God’s Word, testimonies of salvation and friendships that last is the part that remains.
Since 1995, many students who traveled here become teachers and mentors who now bring their own groups to continue this legacy. They love giving the students the same opportunity they received – not only to sing or play abroad, but to live with Christian folks who house them, participate in the church life, hear the Word preached and realize there is more to life than the elusive center-stage spotlight.
Here is a classic example: Four years ago, a fifteen-year-old violist named Jakub visited the first time and became a Christian. He returned as one of the oldest in the orchestra and a true mentor to the younger students. It was amazing to watch him share his testimony from the stage or witness to other students in the van during the many hours we drove around South Florida. He even composed a piece of music for the orchestra called Almighty God. "I just wanted to glorify the Lord," he said… He will graduate in May and go on to study at the Czech national conservatory. He will take his faith and God’s power with him to his new environment. Perhaps one day, he will return leading his own group to help us continue the good work.
They returned back home, exhausted from the tour. Nine concerts heard by close to three thousand people in seven cities! We know that some of them recognized that God Himself is the source of the joy they tasted and experienced - a joy that cannot be denied by a sceptic or taken away by a government shutdown. God willing, some of them will come back the next time as mentors to help the younger ones to receive the fullness of this gift beyond music.
Many thanks to all who support us prayerfully and financially and in prayer to keep this ministry going!