Reserved, polite, careful, searching â€” all these words could be used to describe the character of the Czech people.
But as the products of a harsh, ideological, atheistic Communism that dominated the land for 40 years, they are also a misled people â€” deceived, lost and hardened.
I used to teach English to two classes in a local high school. On one occasion â€” after carefully explaining five different world views ranging from atheism to theism to a class of 30 students aged 16 to 18 â€” I asked each student which world view they held.
25 of the 30 said they were atheists. Not only did they reject God, they didnâ€™t even believe that the one they rejected exists.
Only one student in that class believed there is a Creator God who desires to relate to man.
These students were real people to me, not percentages. Meeting them, and hearing them reject God like that, forced me to reckon with the reality, not of statistics, but of people with immortal souls.
Dr Josef Solc has written: â€˜Missiological strategies that work in other parts of the world are ineffective among the nations of Europe because of their former exposure to Christianity.
â€˜The mistakes of the past are well remembered, and the secular influence of modern and post-modern philosophies is well entrenched.
â€˜When a forty-year-long reign of Marxism-Leninism is added, one faces people who are thoroughly brainwashed against faith in God and the church.
â€˜This is the current situation in the Czech Republic â€¦ My contention is that re-evangelisation is as much part of the Great Commission as evangelisation.â€™
Solc continues: â€˜Mission work in the Czech Republic does present unique obstacles. The first obstacle is a thoroughgoing atheism.
â€˜The second obstacle is the pervasive revulsion or apathy regarding Christianity and the church. The third obstacle is a complete illiteracy concerning the Bible and spiritual things…
â€˜The fourth obstacle comes, surprisingly, from Christians themselves. One would think that in a difficult missionary environment, there could be some help obtained from Christians.
â€˜Not so! Many Christians were pushed into the corner of mere survival and do not even think about missions.
â€˜The fifth obstacle is a lack of trained ministers. Under Communism, pastors were reduced to the poorest segment of society.â€™
I would add something further to Solcâ€™s helpful analysis. The fundamental reason why the Czech people are so resistant toward the gospel is that, like all peoples, they are born with â€˜uncircumcised heartsâ€™. They must be born again to see the kingdom of God (John 3).
The churches in the Czech Republic need to recover a sense of concern for their own people. Not long ago we attended part of a prayer weekend in Prague. 53 Christian organisations were represented.
Who attended? Mostly American missionaries and their associates, but hardly any local pastors. It grieves our hearts when we see such low commitment from the local churches.
Our prayer is that the Lord would wake up his people. Hundreds of years ago this was the land of John Huss and the Moravian Brethren, from which the gospel was carried to the utmost corners of the world.
Please pray for all who serve here. We are ready to labour on patiently to see Czech people enter the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
In the meantime we can glorify our God for each new day and his sovereign plan for it. We love this country â€” we were born here. We also embrace the spiritual challenge that we face.
The Steigers minister over the radio to Czech- and Slovak-speaking people www.hcjb.cz/newsletter/