Vision Slovakia Background
St. Andrew’s has been involved in the former Eastern bloc nation of Slovakia for over 20 years. Recently people have asked, “When will our ministry there be done?” and, “Aren’t they capable of teaching programs like Vacation Bible School now?” and, “Why is it taking them so long to become ﬁnancially independent?”
These are difﬁcult and complex questions for many reasons. We didn’t choose this ministry, but this opportunity has been gifted to us and called by God to serve as a congregation. We have continued to establish partnerships with other congregations who are also committed and called into the support of this ministry of Christian education in Slovakia.
In this ministry we have received far more from our Slovak partners than we have given. They have given us a vision of their commitment to teach and proclaim the gospel for this new time of freedom. They have lived through times when it has not only been difﬁcult, but even impossible to worship. These are faithful people with a vision to reestablish Christian education and freedom of worship as they continue to recover from the trauma of living with totalitarian regimes for over 40 years under communism following WW II, and prior to the reign of terror and holocaust under the Third Reich.
Self-worth and initiative were virtually destroyed during these years with the daily threat of imprisonment and death. Records were secretly kept on persons and innocent people who were identiﬁed as enemies of the state. This so-called information was used to incarcerate and martyr Slovak citizens for any outward expression of their faith in God. Jan Bohdan Hrobon was a Lutheran pastor who dared to carry out his ministry under all these dangers and still live faithfully to his call to proclaim and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. His vision was to reestablish Christian education schools for children, youth and adults. Others shared his vision to once again provide for educational freedom to instill the Christian faith for a new generation. He died in 2006 but his vision lives on. His son, Bohdan Hrobon, continues to serve as the director of the Center for Christian Education in Martin, Slovakia.
These schools have been ﬁrmly established, as you will read in the following descriptions, but they are still in their infancy and we cannot fail to support them even now. These are crucial times for the faithful in Slovakia and the partnership we share with them as we continue to walk with them. This is as important now as it has been in the past 15 years.
To offer Christian education has been a life-long vision of the forefathers and current leaders of the Center for Christian Education in Martin, Slovakia. The present generation of leaders and teachers is the ﬁrst after many decades of repression to have the freedom to proclaim the gospel freely and to equip lay leaders to be missionaries of Christ.
The story of the Center for Christian Education began in 1998 with the creation of a Bible School, offering a weekend study program in the Bible and Christian elementary teaching. Its primary purpose was to provide nurturing Christian education for those who sensed the inadequacy of their knowledge of their Christian roots. The theme verse of the school is inscribed in several languages on the central ﬂoor-to-ceiling window of the Bible School building, expressing Jesus’ words of promise: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
The Bible School’s offerings soon expanded to include basic education in social work and pastoral care. With a number of partner congregations in the USA, the Bible School continues to annually educate leaders for missions in Eastern Europe. In 2004 the Bible School established the Lutheran Elementary School. They realized that to reach the current generation of children and parents a program of education for elementary age children needed to be established. The addition of the Lutheran Elementary School became a partner in what is now known as the Center for Christian Education.