Church Plant Spotlight : Chris and Amy Hale, Prague, Czech Republic
FEIC currently has 69 churches in 39 countries. Some of the churches have a long, rich history while others are just in the initial planting stages. This ‘Church Plant Spotlight’ features a church just getting started in Prague, Czech Republic. Leading the team are Chris and Amy Hales. Here is their story.
Jeff: We’re thrilled to have you guys on the European field and would love to know more about you guys.
Chris: Thanks! We both grew up in Oklahoma. We love traveling, adventure and enjoying a great cup of coffee with friends. Missions just naturally fits us. We have had a heart for missions work for many years. My first trip took me to to Puebla, Mexico with my childhood church, the Bridge in Mustang, OK and later, I took our youth group in Missouri on trips to El Salvador (King’s Castle) and Alaska. Amy stayed home and took care of our kids, so that I could go. Our most recent missions experience began with both of us stepping off the plane in Prague for the first time almost three years ago. For both of us, this is the first full-time commitment.
Jeff: Tell us about your call to plant a church in Prague.
Before I met Amy, a man came to my church and prophesied that I would be involved in missions and would meet my wife. Within a month, I had met her. Within five months, we were married. From the beginning, we felt God was leading us to follow him overseas. We began to pray about the place.
As we were praying one night, Europe began to stand out to us. We began to read about the different countries and noticed that the Czech Republic needed missionaries. With over 60% claiming to be atheist or agnostic, we just felt like this would be a great place to serve.
Due to the deaths of Amy’s Dad, my mom and the need to gain some pastoral experience, the desire of serving in missions would have to wait. We accepted a position in Illinois and began serving as pastors. About the fourth year into the ministry there, we hosted Michael and Loretta Hopkins, missionaries to Italy. During the sermon, God began to deal with our hearts again about missions. Amy told me that she felt like God had told her that we were too comfortable and that we were to plant an international church in Prague.
We had thought that the Czech Republic would be the place, but now we knew the purpose. God spoke to me about now being the right time , so we began the process. We began speaking to (area director) Jim Sabella about our calling, and he asked us why we were coming. I told him that I believe God had called us to start an International church in the city of Prague. He told me that he knew that and that he had been praying for 14 years for someone to come. He just wanted to hear this from us. Even after all this time, this calling never left us. Now, it would become reality.
We resigned our church in November of 2010 after we were approved. We stayed until January of 2011 when we began itineration. On September 13, 2012, our family touched down in Prague for the first time.
Jeff: Tell us about Prague and the need for an international church in the Czech Republic.
Chris: Prague has a great need for churches. The international community in the Czech Republic is over 400,000 people, most of whom live in Prague. Prague has a huge influence on what happens throughout the country and is home to over 1.2 million people.
We have been told that this country is less than 1% evangelical with the number of atheists and agnostics somewhere between 60 and 80%. By some accounts, Prague is the most atheistic country in the world. We do not know of any mega-churches in the country. The biggest churches we know of may have 300 to 400 people. There are plenty of people that need the opportunity to know Christ.
Jeff: Are there other international churches there?
Chris: There are other international churches here, but by what we can tell, only about 1000 people attend all of them combined.
Jeff: What is the international ‘climate’ in Prague?
Chris: I think the climate is okay for internationals. There are a few good expat publications and communities on Facebook. Most of which, however, have nothing to do with Christianity. We do feel like we are making some good relationships in the city and at our children’s school.
Jeff: Where do you plan to locate your church and do you have a name for it yet?
Chris: We are looking for a place in the center of the city with easy access to the metro or trams. Right now, we are going with the name Heart Prague.
Jeff: Do you have any thoughts about what you’d like to see in terms of church culture, programs, etc?
Chris: Our idea of a church culture is a place where people of all nations can come and worship together. We desire a place that people can feel loved and accepted wherever they are with God. We desire a place that has a strong emphasis on worship, prayer and discipleship. We want to invest in a small group of people and then come alongside to help them disciple others. We would love to see numerous small “churches” across Prague.
Jeff: What are your needs in terms of a building, a team to help with the church, etc?
Chris: When we return, we will be looking for a place to rent. Depending on cost, we will probably rent a space on Sundays and gather in our home or a local coffee shop during the week for small groups. We will need to purchase sound and video equipment. Also, we need some more people to serve alongside of us, especially with the music and kids ministries.
Jeff: Do you have anyone coming to help?
Chris: We are speaking to a few people about coming to help. We, also, have several Czechs that want to be involved and the National church may even send some Bible college students to help out. The National church has given us their blessing.
Jeff: What are your prayer needs?
Chris: We just really want to grow as close to Christ as possible. We want to love the people like He does. We just need His strength and joy. Our children have had some physical and emotional needs to deal with this first term. Amy and I have also had to fight with fatigue. We are feeling a little weary, but are very hopeful. We see that progress is being made.
Jeff: Can you add anything else that I’ve not covered?
Chris: We love being connected with FEIC and plan on being more involved next term. One of our favorite memories is from the relational retreat to Caorle, Italy. We just really enjoyed seeing everyone and being there together.
Jeff: How can people contact you if they would like to know more about your ministry and this church plant?