Editor’s Note – This month we are excited to give an update on our missionaries to the Czech republic, Josh and Irena:
I am delighted to finally introduce Christ Through ESL (English as a Second Language). After 9 years in Czech and through many journeys, trials and experiences God has brought me to the exact place He desires me to be while doing what He has designed me for. In my little office (above) I teach an array of conversational English topics from family and marriage to crime and capital punishment. In every lesson we discuss our topic from A-Z and in every lesson I share the Biblical view on the topic. For example, what does the Bible have to say about marriage or success or even music? What is the Christian view on abortion, homosexuality or government? Because most of my students are local teachers, business owners and entrepreneurs God has allowed me to have a wide range of influence and I take this very seriously.
A Couple Examples
A few weeks ago, one of my students came in and said, “Oh, work was so stressful today! I can’t talk, I’ll just ask you some questions and listen today.” His first question to me was, “If you could go back in time, where would you go and why?” I told him that I would love to travel back to see the Exodus or to meet with Jesus. He then asked, “And what if, when you met Jesus, you found out it was all a lie and you found him dancing around with women or something?” I said, “Well, I guess I would join the dance too!” Then I asked him, “What would you do if you went back in time to meet Jesus and you found out that it was all true, that heaven and hell really do exist?” He said, “I would try to save him!” I said, “What are you talking about?” He replied, “I would try to save Jesus from being murdered!” After politely asking him if he knew why Jesus came to die at all he said, “I have no idea, but I’m ready to learn.” For the next 90 minutes, we discussed the details of justification, substitutionary atonement and their legal implications. We talked about sin, death and the afterlife. At the end, I gave him a Czech Bible which he said he would happily read and consider.
Every Easter Czech has a rather unsavory pagan fertility tradition that most women despise. Czech men braid a whip of fresh branches with colorful strips of cloth at the end and whip any woman in sight! In turn, the women reward the boys with sweets. So, the next day I had a couple students come in and I asked them, “Did you whip your wives for Easter?” They said, “No, why would we, we are not Christians!” In shock, I asked, “Do you have any idea why Christians celebrate Easter?” They tried, but they couldn’t give an answer even slightly close to the truth. The level of ignorance many Czechs have to Christianity and the gospel is staggering.
These are just a few examples of conversations I have on a daily basis. Sometimes I have 4 students in a row and each one of them will ask me deeply spiritual questions. Czechs are hungry for spirituality today! Unfortunately, most of them turn to yoga or some kind of New Age meditation because it is so readily available.
In the News
I am also teaching Hebrew to a Korean student. Hyundai has massive factories in Czech which is the center for Hyundai in all of Europe so there are many Koreans living and working here. All the tension with North Korea and the US have made my Korean student fear for her family in South Korea. She even told them to get out, to go anywhere. At least until the threats subside. Our Iranian friends in Prague say that Islam has destroyed their once incredible country. They also fear a slaughter of their people on account of corrupt nuclear deals and political over confidence. Czechs have never experienced a single terrorist attack so they have mostly kept to themselves and they have seemed to have a “it will never come here” attitude. But things are changing. Terrorism is popping up in countries all over Europe and Czechs are taking note. I believe that we need to be ready for the time when Czechs start frantically seeking answers. What an advantage we have in the Lord! What an anchor of hope He is in unsettling times! What a calm assurance of peace we have amongst a world of overwhelming chaos!
I have a big advantage here simply because I am an American. Almost anything I say to Czech people is very well received. On the other hand, a Czech that would say the exact same thing to another Czech is almost instantly or automatically challenged or rejected. So, I thought it would be amazing if we work together on our influence in Czech. If any of you ever have an idea for incorporating Christ through an everyday conversational topic, like politics, sports, health care, work, travel etc., then please feel free to let me know. For example, my dad is constantly sending me his Christian views on politics in the USA and now it’s normal for my students to ask me what my dad thinks about Trump, N. Korea, Iran etc. And it’s amazing how well received it all is. Czech has a massive history. Our city, Frydek-Mistek, just celebrated its 750th anniversary! This place has seen it all, from Nazis to Communism and now a fresh taste of democracy and multiculturalism. I know many of you have a lot of your own history with war and conflict. Many of you have gone through incredible life journeys involving myriads of topics both pleasant and harrowing. I can’t even imagine how effective such a tool could be in the Lord’s hands.
On a Personal Note
Irena and I are humbled that the Lord chose such special and kind people like you to raise the support we need for this ministry to thrive. It’s remarkable to us that you have given the funds we need and that you have given us your trust and confidence to do what we are doing here. This is very serious to us and we do not take it lightly. Because of you we have reached almost 90% of the financial goal that we set for Christ Through ESL. This is the Lord´s ministry and what an honor it is for all of us to be the ones He has chosen to fulfill it. Thank you for taking part in this with us.
With much love,
Josh, Irena and Shani