As members of Fargo’s First Lutheran Church in Fargo, North Dakota, we value our mission statement: “…to bring people into a relationship with Jesus Christ and help them grow in the Christian Faith.” Teams from ND have been serving various local and global locations with this faith-building idea in mind.
After our stay in Slovakia, fellow North Dakota teammate, Pastor Bruce Vold of Carrington wrote to fellow members that the reason for our recent mission trip was reflected in this passage from Thessalonians: “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” (2:8).
From my first trip to Martin made with my daughter in 2004 to this year’s stay, I can truly say we all deeply care for our brothers and sisters in Christ in Slovakia. With each journey to this country with its news post-Communist religious freedom has been a special gift, a genuine blessing! Over the years we have renewed wonderful friendships and have seen such exciting growth from what we first knew as the Martin Bible School to the exciting endeavors and growth of the Center for Christian Education. The motivated and Christian staff in Slovakia is a model for all.
Over these ten years we have witnessed the growth of a first grade bilingual elementary school experience to educational opportunities that include high school grades! In addition, while in the past there were weekend Bible courses in Martin, there is now a complete course of study associated with a theological degree from the University of Žilina.
Similarly while we began our Vacation Bible School efforts in the neighboring village of Pribovce in 2003, we now see their independent work and outreach with their own VBS program as we continue to see that same growth in English classes. It is a joy for us to know those who helped us in our initial VBS work in Pribovce have now assumed preschool teaching and secretarial duties at the Elementary School in Martin along with our one-time dorm “kitchen helper” as another full-time teacher on staff as well! These friends and associations are not by accident as we are reminded in Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” What a future the CCE and its American partners are building!
Our Christian partnership has been a true blessing to us, and we thank you for the opportunity and privilege to be a part of your every-growing Christian community. We hold you in our thoughts and prayers as we thank “God upon every remembrance of you…” (Philippians 1:3).Marianna Malm
First Lutheran Church, Fargo, ND
North Dakota Mission Slovakia Team Member