Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Czechoslovakian Independence

     Today is the day that Czechoslovakia became in independent country.  On October 18, 1918; the Czechoslovakian people officially separated themselves from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was on this day that the Czechoslovak Declaration of Independence, or the Washington Declaration, was drafted in Washington D.C. and published Czechoslovakia’s Paris-based Provisional Government. October 28, 1998 was later declared the official birthday of Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovakia had been a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire for over 400 years; but at the end of The Great War, or as we know it, World War I, the Czechoslovakian people felt that it was time to become independent and free from Austro-Hungarian rule.

     The Czech and Slovak people were quite different when they gained their independence in 1918 than they are today. First, the World War that had just concluded strengthens the bond of nationality amongst the people of Czechoslovakia. Second, religion was still a major part of the culture. The Communist regime had not yet quenched their religious beliefs or led them down a path of dishonesty and deception.
     None the less, today is a significant day in Czech history.  Up until 1918, the Czechoslovakian people were without a country to call their own. Their new nation strengthened national pride and individuality; and paved the way for the modern Czechoslovakia, and later the Czech Republic, to emerge after World War II.

Monday, October 13, 2014

English Bible study

This Sunday was our first English Bible study.  Unfortunately, we had no visitors.  Please be in prayer for this ministry opportunity.  We have placed the following flyer in all the dorms and student centers in the  English speaking community of the university in Brno.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Back to school

Please remember to be in  prayer for the children of Brno Bible Baptist Church.  Mikky and Maty, they could be the only students in their classes that believe there is God. Also pray for  James, this is  his last year, yes, he is a senior.   I am not sure who needs more prayer, him or his mom.  David,now in the 9th grade says - prayer please.

Thursday, May 22, 2014


We are praising the Lord for sending a new family our way. Jana and Josef live here in our village. We were introduced to them by one of Debra’s English students. Debra has also witnessed to this particular student many times yet she remains a staunch Catholic. She knew, however, that this other family might be open to the message of the gospel so she introduced us. Josef and Jana, along with their two young daughters have been with us for two consecutive weeks. We met with them again in their home to answer any questions they may have. Please pray for them to come under conviction and trust the Savior.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

New Meeting Room

We are praising the Lord for providing an even better room for our church services. After a couple of scheduling conflicts with the room on the ground floor, the owner approached me to offer a different space one floor up. This is a location where we can leave our chairs set up for church. We don’t have to rearrange everything every week. There is better ventilation as well as a small countertop with a sink and two restrooms. This is a great deal for a space we only have to pay for on Sundays. Pray for the owner, Nikolaj, that he may also be saved.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Sad Statistics

I have written in the past about Lenka. She is the English teacher in the middle school in our village. Debra has been tutoring her in her advanced college English course. She is the one responsible for getting Debra and the boys into the classroom to speak to the students. She was sharing some very sad statistics with Debra the other day. Out of 23 students in her class, only 7 have both a father and mother that live at home with them. That means that only 30% of Czech children are being raised in a nuclear home. This was not at all the case under communism. Adding freedom to an already secular society has only accelerated the deterioration of the family. Even this English teacher can see the problems associated with this trend although she sees no way to reverse it. Praise God, we know the way, Amen?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What is Easter like where you are?

Czech Republic Easter Symbols
Many Czech Easter symbols are related to spring and the beginning of new life. Some of the best known are:
• Easter Eggs and kraslice
Czech Easter EggsThe hand-painted or otherwise decorated egg (kraslice) is the most recognizable symbol of Czech Easter. Girls decorate Easter eggs to give them to boys on Easter Monday. There are many Easter egg decorating techniques and the more elaborate ones require a certain level of skill. Different materials can be used, such as bee's wax, straw, watercolors, onion peels, picture stickers. The most common designs are probably geometrical patterns, but you can also see flowers, leaves or snowflake patterns in a whole range of colors. There are no limitations to creating pretty, colorful eggs.
A nationwide Easter egg contest is held in Prague and other Czech cities around Easter time.
Easter pomlázka• Pussywillow and pomlázka
Young, live pussywillow twigs are thought to bring health and youth to anyone who is whipped with them. An Easter pomlázka (from pomladit or "make younger") is a braided whip made from pussywillow twigs. It has been used for centuries by boys who go caroling on Easter Monday and symbolically whip girls on the legs. In the past, pomlázka was also used by the farmer's wife to whip the livestock and everyone in the household, including men and children. There would be no Czech Easter without the pomlázka.
Boys used to make their own pomlázkas in the past. The more twigs, the more difficult it was to braid one. This skill is not widespread anymore and pomlázkas can be bought in stores and street stands. Some men don't even bother and use a single twig or even a wooden spoon!
• Baby Animals - Lamb, Bunny Rabbit, Chicken
One Easter tradition is to bake a lamb. In the Czech Republic, real lamb is usually replaced with one made from gingerbread.
• Dousing
Dousing a girl with water has a similar symbolic meaning as the pomlázka.
• The Color Red
Red and other bright colors symbolize health, joy, happiness and new life that comes with the spring.

The Days Before Easter Sunday
The following is based on my experience of Easter in the Northern Moravia region.
Children finish school on Ugly Wednesday (Škaredá středa), which is a good idea because they need to spend some serious time on making Easter what it should be. In the evening of Green Thursday (Zelený čtvrtek), every boy in the village equips himself with a wooden rattle (řehtačka), which is specially made for the purpose, the boys form a group and walk through the village, rattling their rattles vigorously, so the noise can be heard from afar. The meaning of the rattling is to chase away Judas. The same procedure repeats on Good Friday (Velký pátek) and one more time on White Saturday (Bílá sobota) when the boys don't only walk through the village but stop at every house in the morning and rattle until they're given money, which they then split between themselves.

Easter Sunday
Easter Sunday (Neděle velikonoční) is a day of preparations for Easter Monday. Girls paint, color and decorate eggs if they haven't done so already, and boys prepare their pomlázkas!
In my family, decorating Easter eggs is a simple affair: dip some hardboiled eggs in water filled with boiled onion peels and then place store-bought Easter stickers on the eggs.

Easter Monday
Easter Monday (Pondělí velikonoční) is a day off, the day of the pomlázka.
The origin of the pomlázka tradition (pomlázka meaning both the whip and the tradition itself) dates back to pagan times. Its original purpose and symbolic meaning is to chase away illness and bad spirits and to bring health and youth for the rest of the year to everyone who is whipped with the young pussywillow twigs. Boys would whip girls lightly on the legs and possibly douse them with water, which had a similar symbolic meaning. An Easter carol, usually asking for an egg or two, would be recited by the boy while whipping. The girl would then reward the boy with a painted egg or candy and tie a ribbon around his pomlázka. As the boys progressed through the village, their bags filled up with eggs and their pomlázkas were adorned with more and more colorful ribbons.
This tradition is still largely upheld, especially in villages and small towns, although it may have lost its symbolism and romance and is now performed mainly for fun. Some boys and men seem to have forgotten that the whipping is supposed to be only symbolic and girls don't always like that. The reward has also changed - money and shots of plum brandy (slivovice) are often given instead of or in addition to painted eggs and candy. So by early afternoon, groups of happy men can be seen staggering along the roads... All that aside, Easter remains one of the most joyful holidays on the Czech calendar.
Happy Easter! - Veselé Velikonoce!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Prayer and fasting

This month (March and April) we are spending extended times in prayer and fasting. We are asking the Lord to answer some very specific requests. We are also asking the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into His harvest. There is so much work to be done and the laborers are so few. Won’t you pray with us for the Lord to do great things in these last days?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Blessings of the New Year

We praise the Lord for what He is doing already this year. John Reaves and I have been working together handing out tracts. One week he travels to Brno, the next I go to Olomouc. We have been distributing tracts in the outlying villages surrounding both of our cities. The added benefit is the on-going encouragement and sharpening of swords. We both look forward to our time together. I know I have been greatly helped and encouraged by the fellowship. We are excited to report that a man we have been praying for finally came to visit our services. Jarek, pronounced Yarek, is the husband of Alena, which was saved a few years ago. Jarek was raised in a Catholic family and became very bitter against God and all things religious. God gave me great liberty to preach the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jarek listened intently to the message and at times seemed to be under conviction. We pray the Holy Spirit will work in his heart to bring him to repentance. Others have promised to come and have asked questions each time we meet with them, however have not yet been willing to attend church or to do a Bible study. Pray for Ladka and Martin in this area.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Passion or profit? - Czech opinions on Valentine's Day

Passion or profit? - Czech opinions on Valentine's Day
14-02-2006 14:39 | Chris Jarrett
     Despite the fact that St. Valentine's Day only became known relatively recently in the Czech Republic, it is continually increasing in popularity, and the familiar merchandise which accompanies it is gradually appearing more and more in shop windows. As a consequence there has been lively debate regarding whether or not companies and retailers exploit the festival in modern times for commercial purposes, thus tarnishing its true meaning for many people. Radio Prague takes a look into how Czechs perceive the day.
     As shops all over Prague began their annual displays of oversized cuddly toys and heart-adorned greetings cards, it is plain for all to see that Valentine's Day - called Valentyn in Czech - is once again upon us. As we have seen, the real historical origins of the festival remain extremely mysterious, containing remnants of both ancient Roman and Christian traditions, yet the modern commerciality of St. Valentine's Day is often seen to mask its significance. Although a well-founded tradition in Britain and other European countries, which, as a widely-celebrated event, dates back to the seventeenth century, it is very much a new phenomenon in the Czech Republic, having gained popularity only within around the past ten years. I asked Martin Horalek, a spokesman for the Czech conference of Bishops whether the festival retains its religious meaning nowadays:

"I think it's a pretty significant day, as it is the feast of love, and love is one of the most important things in the Christian faith at all, so certainly the significance is pretty big. A tradition is beginning on this day that we celebrate a mass, for all people of goodwill, and all people who love somebody else, in the Basilica in Vysehrad."
So you think that on a practical scale the Czech people do see a religious significance in Valentine's Day and not just a commercial one?
Photo: CTK
Photo CTK "It's not easy to say. Certainly the commercial one is more common in our very atheistic society."

     Whether St. Valentine's Day is seen as a religious or a non-religious event, there seems to be differing opinion regarding whether it's merely used in modern times as an excuse to sell merchandise. A spokesperson for the Neo Luxor bookshop on Prague's Wenceslas Square explains how they've been going to special lengths because of the festival:

"The St. Valentine's Day festival is becoming ever more popular in the Czech Republic and therefore the Luxor Book Palace has also endeavoured to do its part for the celebration. For example, each customer in the fiction department may pick up a free gift, such as a novel for women. I believe that our enterprise has been successful and that we will continue in the same vein in future years, since the younger generation especially enjoy this festival, and its popularity is increasing."
     I also spoke to a few people in the centre of Prague, who felt strongly that St. Valentine's Day is now centred on the commercial world:
 Young woman 1: "I think it's only commercial. It's very important for business, for shops with flowers."
Young man 1: "It's more about business for me. I think it doesn't have any tradition here and that's why it's a little bit foreign for us."
Young woman 2: "Everybody's buying something just because its being advertised everywhere."
Older man 1: "I think it isn't our national holiday and its mainly good business."
Middle aged man 1: "I just think it started as a commercial project it wasn't non-commercial from the beginning."

     Yet, despite debate regarding modern society's business-like approach to St. Valentine's Day in the Czech Republic and indeed all over the world, it remains for many a day specifically devoted to one's loved ones, something which no amount of commerciality can erase.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Sweet good byes

Sunday was Julio's last Sunday with us.  His classes are finished and he will return to El Salvador on Thursday.  Our family will miss him.  He was a joy to have around and he did what he could to help in the ministry.  What a blessing it is to know Julio.  God Bless you, Julio. May the Lord use you to reach many for Him.

Monday, February 3, 2014

First time visitor

Praise God!  Yesterday was the first time that Alena's husband, Jirek, attended our services.  We have been praying for him for many years. Alena asked him to come and help with the birthday dinner. He agreed to help, to stay for the services, and to eat dinner with all of us.  Please continue to pray for Jirek.  He is not in the best of health and needs surgery that is too dangerous at this time. BUT, most importantly, he needs the Lord.  He was raised by a strict Catholic mother, who has put a bad taste in his mouth for religion.  We hope that yesterday showed him that we are not about religion, but about true service to the Lord.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Arrival of winter

Winter has arrived in the Czech Republic.  The temperatures have been in the negative numbers, negative Celsius numbers.  We thought winter was going to miss us altogether this year, but it found its way to us bring snow, ice, and grey skies.  Please pray that the weather conditions will not keep people away from church services. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

This is My Father's World by M.D. Babcock

This poem was in my son's reading for today.  I thought I would share it with you. Have you taken the time lately to meditate on God's Word and His character?  Consider Psalm 19:1

This is my Father's world,
And to my listening ears
All nature sings,
And round me rings
The music of the spheres.
This is my Father's world!
I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees,
Of skies and seas -
His Hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father's world -
The birds their carols raise,
The morning light,
The lily white,
Declare their Maker's praise.

This is my Father's world!
He shines in all that's fair,
In the rustling grass
I hear Him pass -
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father's world -
O let me ne'er forget
That tho the wrong
Seems oft so strong
God is the Ruler yet.

This is my Father's world!
The battle is not done;
Jesus who died
Shall be satisfied,
And earth and heaven be one.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Thanksgiving , Prayer and Praise

Thanksgiving , Prayer and Praise

We begin the New Year in the same way we ended the old, with thanksgiving and praise. We praise the Lord for sustaining us by His grace and providing our every need. We thank Him for mercy undeserved and for grace unwarranted. We praise him for all of you, our faithful supporters. It is a blessing to be co-laborers in the spreading of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. We praise Him for the financial support as well as the much appreciated Christmas gifts. May your generosity be richly rewarded with fruit that may abound to your account. We pray for much needed strength for the coming year. We pray for souls to be saved. We covet your prayers for our family. They are not taken for granted. Pray for continued provision that the work may expand. Pray for the Lord’s will to be done in our lives as well as the lives of the members here. Pray for the Lord to be exalted in and through us. Amen and Amen.  

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Christmas Outreach and Special Service

Christmas Outreach and Special Service

We thank the Lord for this special time of year when we celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. It always opens up opportunities to share the gospel with people who otherwise would not listen. We distributed thousands of our Christmas tracts, both on the street and in mailboxes. We pray the Lord will use them in the lives of all who received them.

We had a wonderful time at our special Christmas service. Janek read the Scriptures pertaining to the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, James, David, and Michael played special music. The boys put on a puppet play dealing with the true meaning of Christmas. Even little Matiash got into the spirit and played a special on his small plastic xylophone. I preached on the Place, the Personalities, and the Particulars surrounding the birth of Jesus. Of course that alliteration doesn’t work in Czech. God blessed and people were both encouraged and challenged by the message.

The service was followed by a fellowship. Lots of delicious cookies, cakes, snacks, chips, and other wonderful things were eaten in large quantities. We invited many people but in the end only our faithful members and guests were present. Please pray for Czech souls. The country has gotten much colder and people’s hearts harder in the nearly 12 years we have been here. Please pray for the Lord to do a work in their hearts.