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A Tale of Two Cities

The campaignersCzech and Slovak Bible Week: 8th-15th June 2003. Campaigners: David Dunstan, Heph Tarrant, Adrian Triggs (Reading), Simon Peel (Newbury), David Iverson (Kettering), Gordon Porter (Glasgow Central), Phil Maslin (Adelaide), Kevin Bateman (Prague) and Andrew and Ruth Hale (Warrington)

Following the Velvet Revolution and the fall of totalitarian rule, Czechoslovakia split in 1993 to form the Czech and Slovak Republics. Whilst the Truth has been actively preached in the Czech Republic now for over 10 years, the Slovak Republic has received no concerted preaching effort. However, initial visits from Bro Kevin and Sis Jayne Bateman (based in Prague) had proved fruitful, with a good number of contacts developing. It was therefore decided to hold the first Slovak campaign in the capital, Bratislava, and end the week with the second annual Prague Bible Weekend.

With this plan, 10 brothers and sisters met in Bratislava on 8th June, ready to begin their week together. We spent Monday-Thursday in Bratislava, billing in the day and holding public talks in a central hotel each evening. Over the course of the week we distributed about 25 000 leaflets publicising the talks and offering correspondence courses, literature, Glad Tidings and 'Prüfet Alles'. Bratislava has a population of around 450 000, so an estimate of 1 person in 20 received a bill. We received a number of completed requests for courses during the week, and postal responses are starting to come in too. Bratislava is a very interesting city and the people are very friendly, so working there proved to be a pleasant experience. However, we managed to coincide with a heat-wave of almost 40°C every day which made billing hard work - a good lesson on the realities of Matt 20v12!

It is pleasing to say that there seemed a good number of people keen to hear the Gospel, and to discuss scriptural (and other!) topics. Consequently we were regularly involved in discussions on the street when billing, and built a number of good relationships with local people. We were blessed with a good response to each talk: an average of 10-11 visitors came to each, with lively and engaging discussion afterwards. We were particularly impressed with the courteous and constructive manner of the visitors, whether or not they agreed with our stance.At the Bible Weekend

The follow-up is a number of 'Read the Bible Effectively' seminars delivered in English and translated into Slovak. The first was attended by 11 visitors - some from the campaign and others from earlier visits. At the time of writing, we await the attendance at the second. We thank our Heavenly Father for blessing our labours in this way, and pray a blessing on Bro Kevin's continuing work there - may it bring fruit to the glory of God.

On Friday we travelled to Prague (a train or car journey of 4-5 hours) to begin the Prague Bible Weekend. Here we were joined by Sis Jayne Bateman and Bro Miloš Bednar (Prague), Bro Igor Dyuzhev (Belarus), Bro Trevor Maher (Stirling, UK) and 6 of our long-standing Czech contacts. The Bible School was held in a hotel in Pruhonice, just outside Prague, following the pattern from last year. Brother Trevor led our studies in the Acts of the Apostles, and gave us four addresses under the heading 'Turned from Darkness to Light'. We examined the nature of the Gospel preached, the experiences of the Apostles, the effect the Word had on men and women, and the work of the angels and Holy Spirit. We thank Bro Trevor for talks that were stimulating to all, whether baptised or not, and gave much help for our daily walk in the Truth.

During the weekend, it became clear that a number of the contacts were beginning to see the power and calling of the gospel, and the animated discussions underlined this. At the close, two asked to be prepared for baptism - a happy task which is now being undertaken.

The weekend was one from which we all benefited, in encouragement and fellowship as well as in study and learning. We pray the Lord's blessing on those still coming to a full knowledge of the Truth, and those guiding them.

In summary, the week was a 'study and serve' campaign with a difference in that the two elements were separated considerably in time and space. We were well blessed by our heavenly Father in all of our work and travels, and we give Him our thanks. May this corner of the vineyard bear fruit to please Him.

Kevin Bateman and Andrew Hale
from The Bible Missionary No. 169 (July 2003)

Information about Czech Republic