Having only been missionaries for a year, our understanding of church and culture, of language and customs, and of how the gospel can redeem this country is still yet being formed. But here are some observations we’ve made thus far, now that we can celebrate living in country for a year!
We hope that any Czechs who may read this are not offended, but see this only as our observations as outsiders slowly becoming more acquainted with this country and the people we love.
Now, the Czech Republic is an interesting juxtaposition of modernity and history. Not only in architecture or the arts, but also in the realm of ideas – there is a tension between the perceived past and the rapidly moving future. Ideas about the authority of the bible and the personhood of Jesus are more easily dismissed. Yet spirituality they acknowledge a deeper life and a sense of darkness and light.
The system of values here tends toward the scientific and humanistic. Society elevates intellectualism yet often does not produce strong leadership. Communally speaking, suspicion and fear simmer beneath the surface, yet once certain barriers are crossed, you have friends for life. The initial reluctance is understandable given the country’s harrowing history and journey toward a defined identity as a people. Thus this place is an interesting maze of opportunities to enter relationships and Czech life with the hope of Christ, heaven’s glory.
For us, our ministry is often what could be called ‘kitchen table ministry’. We are blessed that it is something that transplants to Czech culture in a way that crosses relational barriers while forging new ones. To feast together is to reflect the great celebration in heaven; to partake in a form of communion, to nourish, to experience and care for one another. It is not only to share food, but also our lives. Many conversations and curiosities have passed over our table as we strive to bless both physically and spiritually. We pray at our table, we learn Czech at our table; we eat and talk about good and holy things around it. We also have to discipline at our table, have hard talks and make giant messes, all around our table!
Hospitality is not a new thing in terms of ministry, meals happen regardless of how many people are there. But for those of us who live here, it has poignant significance for the way we are humbled to enter into people’s lives. In light of a culture whose windows and doors are often shut, it is a means of loving on, and learning to love, the Czech people.
Specifically for our family, ministry has taken on the form of both individual and corporate gatherings. Currently, God has blessed our church community with a handful of people who are earnestly seeking and want to know more about God but are not yet comfortable with church. So we host a monthly gathering at our house – we provide a home, food, a place to hear the truth from God’s word, and time and space to wrestle through the gospel’s implications in every day life. It is a community in it’s formative stage but with a faithful leader and much prayer, we can see it one day becoming a church plant who can replicate it’s experience.
Perhaps this is the closest thing to a vision for church planting we have seen. Since this context demands trustworthy relationships at the foundational level, small gatherings in homes across the region would be the ideal way to really see dynamic growth in this city and country. And perhaps the most important detail is that it is something that can be reproduced by Czechs for Czechs under the headship of an established Czech church. We hope to see discipleship and bible studies form through similar means. And we are starting to see this at our own local church. Our pastor’s passion to see this city reached is bearing fruit as others begin to understand the beauty of Jesus and the incredible opportunities God orchestrates in our lives. We have been prepped about the long road ahead but know too that God is sovereign and faithful. We are excited to see what God does with the gifts He has given us, and the people around us, in order to further His kingdom in the Czech Republic.