RUF Global in Prague
Cody Janicek | April 11, 2016
For the last ten weeks, I have been teaching conversational English lessons at the Economics University in Prague. Speaking English is a really marketable skill here. It’s almost a necessity, especially for students who’ll enter the job hunt after they graduate. With access to native English speakers pretty limited, students are always looking for ways to practice. I started working with a language center to meet students in an environment that’s comfortable and natural. And it’s been a huge blessing in more ways than I expected.
Not only do I get to meet students, but I also get to lead discussions about whatever I want. And in your first year on the mission field, when you’re trying to transition to a new culture and figure out what makes Czechs tick, that is an incredible opportunity.
Today, we spent some time looking at various English proverbs, which are pretty difficult for non-native speakers to pick-up, reading several common proverbs (the grass is greener, hindsight is 20/20, etc.). But we also talked about these two: “Man shall not live by bread alone” and “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”
None of my students had ever heard of either of them.
Even having been here for over a year, knowing full well that 90 percent of Czechs are atheist/agnostic, that blew me away. It reminded me of just how post-Christian the culture is here. Not only have these students never read the Bible, even some of the most recognizably Christian phrases/ideas have never even been heard.
Christianity is completely foreign—and not foreign in the way that Spanish is foreign to most Americans. It’s as foreign to them as Czech is to you. They’ve never heard it. They have no exposure to even the most fundamental Christian beliefs. In fact, before they enrolled in this class, most of these students had never even met someone who would call him or herself a Christian.
Marek, a friendly 20-year-old student, said he identified with the proverb, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” “The proverb assumes there’s nothing more than this life, no meaning, no hope,” I said. Another student named Anna chimed-in, “Wow, that really seems gloomy.” “Yeah… but it’s what we believe,” Ondrej replied. No one disagreed.
A couple of weeks ago, one student named Laura said, “We’re all atheists.” It wasn’t antagonistic or hostile—just a statement of fact.
There’s a hardness—a callousness, that masks itself as matter-of-fact-ness—that atheism has on a culture. But we believe that eternity is in everyone’s heart. We all have a deeper longing for something more. And as weird as it sounds, it was refreshing to hear students begin to wrestle with the fact that they don’t like the hopelessness that their atheistic worldview breeds. This is why we’re here. We’re here to enter the lives of students who have zero exposure to Christianity—to get to know them, love them, and to tell them about the abundant life that’s found in Jesus.
Would you take 60 seconds right now to pray for our ministry?
The ground is hard but we’re more convinced than ever that the Spirit is at work and the field is ripe for harvest. Pray for us, for Faith Community Church, and for other faithful Christians here in Prague who are working for the good of this city and God’s glory.