Slovakia Then & Now
Jul 15, 2014 | 6 min read | Amy Nickerson
“Is it really that easy?!” An eager highschooler named Mato leaned into the conversation he was having with Peter Hrubo, a national JV missionary in Slovakia. “All I have to do is confess my sins and invite Jesus into my life in order to experience God’s forgiveness and salvation?”
Peter nodded and smiled. “It’s that easy.”
The guys were discussing the gospel after a recent EXIT Tour concert at Mato’s school. After deciding to commit his life to Christ, Mato’s response was, “No one in this school would say you can have a relationship with Jesus in this way. I need to let all of them know!”
Peter says that many students in the country of Slovakia are still very open toward God and Christianity the way Mato has been. In the last three years, approximately 40% of the non-churched students who accepted Christ through JV have done so during evangelistic camps or outreaches like the EXIT Tour program.
Yet ministry was not always focused so much on evangelism.
When Danny Jones and his family moved to Slovakia in 1992 to work with an organization called Reach Out, Slovakia was just becoming a country separate from the Czech Republic, and Dave and Connie Patty were settling into life on the other side of the border. The families soon became partners in ministry, as they worked to build relationships and equip young leaders in Central and Eastern Europe.
In those days Danny’s ministry was focused less on evangelism and more on teamwork and discipleship within the local church. A national organization called Kompas was started early on, which Danny calls “a very strong relational network of all the national denominational youth leaders… we started working together pretty closely. The beauty of it was there was a strong buy-in on all denominational parts from the very beginning that caused us to develop really deep relationships of trust with all the denominations to help train their leaders. So, we needed to have those relationships.”
From 1992 to 1998 a lot of young people came to Christ. Danny describes these years; “We saw a tremendous movement of God, mainly among young people in the churches who were not believers and didn’t understand the gospel.”
There were discipleship camps that took place back then, focusing on a specific area of the country. Youth groups and leaders would come together to train and become equipped to then be sent out for evangelism and service projects in their cities.
Although the level of spiritual warfare was high and Danny and others felt the darkness and oppression in the early years of JV, Slovakia’s leaders were hungry for training and people were curious about spirituality.
“There had been communism up until that point. So, you never talked about religion outside the privacy of your own home and now you could do that. There was a real spiritual interest then… and it was a beautiful simplicity that I think has been lost to some degree over the years. You had a lot of time, and it was easy to get into conversation.”
Taking the opportunities that God had presented, the Jones family, other JV staff and local church leaders did what they could to meet that hunger. They started several ministries, many of which are still going strong today, and provided training through internships and classes offered at the Kompas training center.
Danny looks back on those days fondly. “The hand of God was just on the ministry. We could feel the wind of the Spirit blowing through the country.”
In the early days Kompas focused on much needed discipleship of young leaders. Today, the team is finding surprising results in Slovakia through new evangelism strategies.
Although Danny Jones and his family now live in the States, Peter Hrubo, a Slovak national who was recruited by Danny and now serves as Kompas president, is excited about what God is doing right now.
“We would love to be the engine and inspiration and motivation for personal evangelism,” says Peter. This is already happening through events like the national youth workers conference, which recently had over 600 leaders come together for the biggest event for youth workers in Central Europe.
This summer, 13 camps will take place throughout Slovakia and JV is expecting to impact over 500 students’ lives with the partnership of 12 US churches and 11 Slovak ones. In the fall EXIT Tour will make three stops in Slovakia, with a projected total of around 4,100 young people in attendance. The team is also busy with Fusion, JV’s music ministry, in three Slovak cities. During this coming school year, 16 young leaders will go through an internship training program.
With a team of 12 Slovaks and eight North Americans, spread out in six different places in Slovakia, the ministry team is working to strengthen their group this year. They are praying that “Christian values would be accepted and valued by secular society in this country again.”
Through their evangelistic efforts many Slovak students, like Mato, are already being introduced to Christ and forming personal relationships with Him. Please pray with us that many more will follow as God continues to move in Slovakia.