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A summer visit to Slovakia

August 2016 | by Alec Taylor

I have known Branislav Micieta, pastor of Soli Deo Gloria Reformed Baptist Church in Žilina, Slovakia, for several years, having first met him at the Metropolitan Tabernacle School of Theology.

Two-thirds of the population of Slovakia profess to be Roman Catholic and the influence of the Church of Rome there is quite strong. At least ten per cent of the population are Lutheran. There are some Brethren assemblies, but very little Reformed Baptist witness.

Slovakia’s neighbours are the Czech Republic in the west, Poland in the north, Ukraine in the east and Austria and Hungary in the south.

Branislav (Brano) was brought up as a Lutheran, and it was in the Lutheran church that he met his wife Lydia. He obtained an engineering doctorate from Žilina University, but later trained for the Christian ministry. Brano and Lydia have four sons; the oldest, Ján, is eight years old.

Žilina

Žilina, which is surrounded by mountains, is in the north west of Slovakia and close to the border with Poland. It is the largest city of the north Slovakia region, with a population of 80,000. The spectacular High Tatra mountains, which have peaks exceeding 2,600 metres, are found to the north.

The church has a small team of translators, who have translated and circulated Pilgrim Bible notes (EP Books) in the Slovak language for several years. They have also translated several reformed publications into Slovak, the latest being John Blanchard’s Ultimate Questions (EP Books).

They have produced a hymn book, containing an almost complete psalter and 302 hymns, many based on well known English hymns. The work of hymn translation continues, and they hope to print an update of an expanded hymn book in 2018.

Suitable meeting places are difficult to find and rents are high. The church met until recently in a very narrow room with poor ventilation, making things difficult in the summer months. But the Lord has wonderfully answered prayer in the provision of a building in the centre of Žilina, by the bus station and close to the railway station and main shopping centre.

The church has taken quite a step of faith, as they need 900 euros each month for rent and the cost of running the building. They have exclusive use of the premises, which are on a five-year lease. There are several rooms and they no longer have to carry equipment to and from services. The first services in the new premises were on 3 July.

Fellowship

The Lord’s Day meetings are preceded with prayer meetings. An all-age Sunday school commences at 8.30am and morning service follows at 10.30am. The evening service is at 6.00pm. Services are streamed live over the internet (www.SoliDeoGloria.sk).

The church has nine members, but several people have applied for membership and there are to be three baptisms shortly. Most of the congregation live in the Žilina area, but others travel from much further afield, including the eastern side of the Czech Republic.

The church has fellowship with the only Reformed Baptist Church in the Czech Republic, at Liberec where Zdenek Karasek is pastor, as well as with Peter Slomski in Poland, and Reformed Baptist pastors in Germany, Hungary and Romania.

I was invited to go to Slovakia with my wife Beverley from 10-19 May 2016. I preached in the church, through a translator, for a series of specially arranged meetings, in addition to the Lord’s Day services.

We were blessed among the people, who have become dear to us. Having been there, we can pray for them with more understanding.

Our prayers are needed for: Brano, who has some serious health problems; the church’s evangelistic outreach work; its internet and literature ministry; the ongoing work of translating Christian literature, including financing a new Slovak edition of Ultimate Questions; and the planting of more Reformed Baptist churches in Slovakia.

Alec Taylor

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Slovakia