“Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16
The Lord Prepared The Way
September 2020 marks twelve years since the Lord brought us to the Czech Republic—a land where I was born, but left as a child. In 1981, my father, a Baptist minister, was called to a church in Toronto, and so our family moved to Canada. Toronto became my home where I grew up and spent the next 27 years of my life.
Both my father and grandfather were leaders and influential figures in evangelicalism in the former Czechoslovakia. We were largely unaware that we were a part of neo- evangelicalism, a mixed multitude of much compromise and apostasy. After the fall of communism, my father returned to his native land, while I remained in Canada with my wife Martina (also Czech-born), whom I had just married.
In 1997, the Lord providentially brought us to the Toronto Free Presbyterian Church by way of the Whitefield Christian Schools. I was a teacher looking for a position and despite my efforts to the contrary, through a series of unlikely circumstances, I was brought by the Lord to a ministry of which I had no previous knowledge. Ultimately, this led to membership in the Free Presbyterian Church and departure from our family denomination in the face of great opposition and trouble. Much of this continues to this day.
I thank the Lord for enabling me to complete my theological studies at Geneva Reformed Seminary, and last year I was ordained by the Free Presbyterian Church of North America to the gospel ministry in the Czech Republic.
The Lord Placed a Burden
Our personal history and background is vital for a better understanding of the context in which we labor and the ministry to which the Lord has called us. The Lord’s primary call to us was to be a voice of warning to the church in the land of our birth. After 11 years of instruction and preparation in the Free Presbyterian ministry in Toronto, the Lord called us from His Word: “And go, get thee to them of the captivity, unto the children of thy people…I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me” (Ezekiel 3). This has always been, and by the grace of God will continue to be, the main thrust of this ministry: to be a voice of warning against the compromise and declension in the church. This is what I have sought to do in the strength of the Lord, and there has been ample opportunity.
I pray that this separated witness would be a witness against all apostasy, disobedience, compromise, and worldliness in the church, because such a church has nothing to offer to man. When there is departure from the old paths, the church is completely robbed of power. Sometimes, there may still be some form of godliness, but there is no power. And God’s power is what we all most vitally need—in our lives, in our homes, in our churches. We need the Spirit of God moving in our midst.
Our mission is not just to warn, but also to continue to establish a work where the Lord’s Name is honored, where His people are built up in the faith, and find a true spiritual home and shelter. It has been my great desire for the glory of God and for the extension of His Kingdom to lead men and women, young and old, to the old faith (Jeremiah 6:16), not for the oldness of it, but for the truth of it. It is only in that living and true faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that people will find God’s blessing and rest for their souls.
The Lord’s Power Desired
As well as taking a stand against the fallen church and seeking to establish a faithful work, the Lord has sent us to the highways and byways to call others in. For the first six years in the Czech Republic, I taught English at the Technical University of Liberec, about one hour north of the capital city of Prague. Hundreds of students have heard my testimony and various contacts were established. We also ministered to people in our neighborhood and to everyone with whom we came in contact. Then in 2010, we moved to the town of Rychnov, about 20 minutes south of Liberec. The ministry and witness has continued to all of the people in our new neighborhood. It is very difficult to penetrate a society which has built up so many walls to keep out any thoughts of God or eternity. The people require much time before accepting you into their lives.
One of the explanations for reservation and suspicion is the very unique and complex history of the country. During the Middle Ages it was known as the Kingdom of Bohemia. When godly John Hus appeared on the scene, there was a great reformation movement in the fifteenth century which led to the formation of the church of the Czech Brethren. This was a pre- reformation Protestant church. The Lord moved mightily, and for 200 years the Czech Kingdom was largely Protestant. But in 1620, the Czech Protestants lost what proved to be the decisive battle to the Roman Catholic Hapsburgs and a period of fierce re-catholicization began. From then to the present day the country has had 300 years of Romanism, 20 years between two world wars, 40 years of communism, and now we can say 30 years of secularism. The result: godlessness, wickedness, hardness, suffering, trouble, apathy, emptiness, and darkness. This country, which is in the very heart of Europe with a population of about 10.5 million people, is one of the most atheistic and least religious countries in the world, with almost 80% of the population not declaring any religion or faith in the latest national census. It is a spiritually devastated land, and this is the context in which we find ourselves.
There is a great stigma attached to religion and belief in God—a true remnant of communism. Czech society has been fed the theory of evolution as scientific fact for generations and the people’s thinking is that anyone who has any education or intelligence knows there is no God. It is very difficult to overcome this mindset, particularly in the 30 to 70 age group. We have had many situations where a younger person started to show an interest in the things of God and was greatly discouraged by someone from the older generation. For example, one dear young woman who made a profession of faith was threatened when she started to show a desire to regularly attend worship services. Also, a boy came to our Sunday school but was forbidden by his parents to return the next week when they found out what it was all about. A young man who was affected by the gospel told me that if he would become a Christian, he would have no friends. These are some of the things we contend with in this society. Oh, how we need to be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves, and how we need the Holy Ghost to break through into the hearts of the people and help them overcome these fears and threats, even as they are convicted of their sin and recognize their urgent need of peace with God. May the Lord give victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil.
The Lord’s People Involved
In this hardened, atheistic society it takes much time before people will even start to listen to you about matters of their soul or faith in God. But blessed be the Lord, after all these years we are beginning to see the impact of this witness. By the grace of God, we have been able to build up a level of trust in our community. The Lord is opening doors and giving new opportunities that were not there in earlier years.
Last year, my wife began to teach at the local school (grades 1 to 9) and I began to teach English once a week. The principal is a man who has observed us from a distance for many years, and has showed us great respect. He was most appreciative of our involvement in the school. New relationships have been formed and new doors opened.
Over the years, our children have been witnesses for Christ in their own environments—places which we could not otherwise reach. People watch us and as they experience Christian love and kindness, there is hope that they will be drawn to the Lord. Our 19-year-old son Timothy recently wrote: “As a young person in the Czech mission field, I have been taught the great importance and responsibility of having a consistent and vital relationship with the Lord. In this land so set against belief in God, I have realized the depth of the following words from 1 Peter 2:15 all the more: ‘For so is the will of God, that through well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.’” It is my continuing prayer that we and the children whom the Lord hath given us, be for signs and for wonders in this land (Isaiah 8:18).
The work of the Lord goes forward. We have a band of about 15 to 20 faithful people, including children, along with a wide circle of friends. Some have come and gone, but we are thankful for what we have and look to the Lord for the future. For over 10 years we have had regular morning and evening Sabbath services, along with mid-week prayer meetings. Despite the many challenges of the work and the hostility and opposition we have faced, as a family and as a church we have known much blessing and the keeping hand of the Lord. The Lord promised that He would be to us a little sanctuary in the country to which we would come (Ezekiel 11:16), and that He would give us the land by little and little (Deuteronomy 23:30). “We wait…only upon God; for [our] expectation is from Him” (Psalm 62:5). Unto Him be the glory and honor, forever and ever.