The Czech Republic is one of the most atheistic lands in the world. Its atheism is somewhat different from the new atheism of post-Christian western democracies.
Ours is not a pluralist multi-faith society with the Christian faith under sustained attack from secular humanists. Ironically, the Czech Republic, with its slightly old-fashioned post-Communist atmosphere, is more â”advancedâ” in its infidelity.
Over forty years of communist indoctrination has left a monolithic, unchallenged belief system â” atheism. Its doctrines are tenaciously held to by the Czech population.
The vast majority of Czechs do not believe there is a God at all. There is only a small religious minority, who provide adherents for the influential Roman Catholic Church, and the liberal Protestant and Charismatic churches.
Jehovahâ”s Witnesses and Mormons are active. The spiritual vacuum has also led to interest in the â”spiritualitiesâ” of Eastern and New Age religions.
To our knowledge there are no sound evangelical churches in this country, and the doctrines of grace are largely unknown. Those few pastors who have a fleeting acquaintance with the word â”Calvinismâ” wrongly understand it as â”a view that it is not necessary to evangelise the lostâ”.
The main â”evangelicalâ” denomination is, in fact, the driving force behind the ecumenical movement in the Czech Republic.
The church is in a poor state indeed, and this in a country where believers in God (not necessarily even converted persons) form an absolute minority among the majority atheist population.
In 2000, a native Czech ZdenÃ¬k KarÃ¡sek, together with his English wife, began a new, independent, Reformed, gospel work in his home city of Liberec, in the north of the Czech Republic.
Most Czechs have never met a true Christian before. They are open to discussion but reluctant to attend evangelistic meetings, as there is such resistance to belief in God.
For over two years now there have been repeated attempts to reach the lost. There has been a poster campaign and Liberec has been saturated with leaflets offering free Christian literature.
Invitations have been distributed to all households on several occasions, and over 100,000 households in the entire Liberec region have received evangelistic leaflets. The results so far have been almost nil; the ground is extremely hard.
The work began with an evangelistic Bible study in which Johnâ”s Gospel was expounded to a handful of interested neighbours. At the same time, a Sunday school for children was established.
Resistance to the gospel is encountered here too. Children invited to attend Sunday school invariably express a desire to come and hear about Christ, but are forbidden by their atheistic parents who vehemently object to their children hearing about God.
A small group of children, however, attend faithfully, and their enthusiasm and growth in spiritual understanding is very encouraging.
Despite these difficulties, God is drawing individuals to himself. He is gradually giving them an understanding of and trust in the saving work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross.
So far, all those who attend are women whose husbands are resolute atheists. Those who now believe seek to present a faithful witness to their families.
Our gospel ministry is called the ReformovanÃ¡ cÃrkev (Reformed Church). Although not constituted as a local church yet, it needed a public identity â” hence the name. The word â”Reformedâ” sets the work in a non-Catholic tradition and provides a natural starting point for evangelistic conversation.
Until March 2003, the ReformovanÃ¡ cÃrkev met in a basement in a private home on the edge of the city. But it became clear that a more strategic position was needed to reach the whole city with the gospel.
At the end of September 2002, a run-down building in the centre of Liberec was purchased and extensive work carried out to convert it into a public meeting place for worship. The building is well situated.
In March, Professor Andy McIntosh held a series of illustrated talks there specifically aimed at addressing the predominantly atheist population. He presented solid arguments for the intelligent design of the universe, pointing to the existence of the Creator who reveals himself in his work and Word.
May God be pleased to call to himself those in this city who are his in his electing purpose, and build his church â” as Christ has wonderfully promised to do.