As I write this article, a group of 10 of us from Trinity Lutheran Church and Christians from First Lutheran Church in Fargo have recently returned from a wonderful Mission trip to the beautiful country of Slovakia in Central Europe. While there, we stayed in the dormitory of the Martin Bible School (formally called the Center for Christian Education). We worshipped Christ together in several amazing churches throughout Slovakia, including with our friends at Martin Lutheran and Pribovce Lutheran.
We shared Bible stories and games, Christian songs and American traditions, artistic talents and Slovakian cuisine amidst many, many smiles, with young students from the Christian Elementary School in the town of Martin. Some in our group worked on what we affectionately referred to as the “Great Wall of Slovakia”, making repairs to some parts of the school. We also taught a week of English classes in the villages of Pribovce and Benice to 55 people of various ages and stages of life. There we also shared in prayers and Communion and smiles and laughter, in Christian love and kindness with the people we have come to truly call our friends.
Along the way, we shared gifts with them, while they opened their homes and hearts to us, and showed us many beautiful parts of God’s creation in Slovakia, including caves and churches, mountains and rivers and a good deal of the one thousand-year history of Christianity in that part of the world. (At one point, I held in my hands a 1613 Bible, printed in the archaic Czech language in a town Kralice. It belongs to our friend, Bohdan Hroboň, the director of the Center for Christian Education in Martin, whose family tradition goes back to 6 consecutive generations of Lutheran Pastors in Slovakia).
People there are enjoying the newly found freedom of being able to serve and worship Jesus Christ, which was not very easy to do during the oppressive Soviet regime of 45 years that mercifully ended in 1989. Their society is still learning what it means to be a Christian in the world, and to live in faith and freedom and the love of Christ. That’s something we need to learn as well here at home. It’s a mutual learning, and we were blessed to be on this part of the journey of faith together.
Now we continue to grow in Christ together in our partnership of the Gospel with our friends in Slovakia. We hope to go again. Maybe you want to join us in seeking to make a difference for Christ in the world?
I invite you to pray about it, and pray for our friends in Slovakia, as we support them and walk with them in their journey of faith.
Last point to make is to ask: Why do we go? Why do we spend all that money and take all that time, and why does this mission and ministry matter so much to us? For me, the answer is already given in the Bible, in 1 Thessalonians 2:8, where it states, “So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.”
Thanks be to God for a great trip, and yet another opportunity to share God’s great love in Jesus Christ!
Pastor Bruce Vold,
Trinity Lutheran Church, Carrington, North Dakota