Jessica is in the Czech Republic! As she explored the country, Jessica shares with us the introduction she had to the religious state of the Czech Republic. In one of her latest posts, she shares how Czech Republic is the #3 most non-religious or atheistic country in the world, behind China and Sweden. So what did Jessica learn while she was there? Check out her post on meeting up with our Awana missionary, Radek!
One of the talks that I appreciated the most was with Awana’s Czech Republic missionary. His name is Radek Kalensky, and, along with his wife, Dasa, he works with many churches throughout the Czech Republic to start and maintain Awana programs. After a few miscommunications about where/how to meet, we ended up sitting inside a McDonald’s for just over an hour, talking about life, church, and, of course, how Awana is doing in the Czech Republic.
Radek doesn’t speak English natively, but I was incredibly impressed by his skill – I still speak only a few words in Czech: Please (Prosím), Thank You (Děkuji), and Good Day (Dobrý Den). When we first sat down to talk, we talked about my time so far on Remote Year and my first impressions of the Czech people and Prague. Eventually, I brought up the above article’s main thought – religious affiliation in the Czech Republic was incredibly low. So, how does one of the least affiliated countries in the world have an Awana missionary native to the country? It would make sense to me if they had sent someone there, similar to my friends’ trips to work with local churches. But Radek and Dasa are Czech through and through.
According to Radek, he and Dasa had started going to a church just after their first child was born. Prior to that, neither had been very religious. This is one of the reasons he likes the Awana program so much – it focuses on kids and families, which are usually the reason young adults join the churches he works with. My parents back in the US said that having me was one of the main reasons they started going to church too, so it is likely not just a Czech Republic trend.
Since starting to go to church, Radek became a children’s Sunday School teacher, then a pastor to children, then a pastor to teens, and then started partnering with the Awana club ministries. In his early years, he said that he learned as much from the children’s lessons as the children did – he would just try to stay two or three lessons ahead of them so that he could answer their questions. Now, Radek is sought after in various churches throughout the Czech Republic as a leader in family ministry. He teaches about the role of the family and their role in the church. His focus is not just on using the Awana program to strengthen kids’ knowledge of the Bible, but on strengthening their relationship with God and teaching them how to disciple others and support each other.
Although the number of Awana programs in the Czech Republic might seem small compared to neighboring countries, Radek and Dasa are doing big things. They recently translated the Cubbies program (for pre-k children) into Czech so that they could reach out to the younger families asking for help. They also have many students who have continued in the Awana program past the usual ending point of 6th grade, ending at high school graduation instead – something even my church back at home struggles to set up.
One of my biggest takeaways from my talk with Radek was that the Christian church in the Czech Republic isn’t in as rough a spot as we might think. Many of their struggles are based on a distrust of earlier christian movements that exploited peoples’ weak spots. And that distrust is hard to get over. But it’s not impossible. Because the basis of the Christian faith is love. And loving people without an agenda can, and has, started to repair some of that trust.
Thank you, Radek, for telling me about your country and your love for these people. I can’t wait to return someday.
If your heart for equipping leaders like Radek is stirred, help us reach kids like those in the Czech Republic. You can give a gift that will go directly to train more leaders to go into their home communities to reach kids with the gospel. Visit awana.org/reach-a-child to join us!
If you’d like to read the entire post about the Church in the Czech Republic, read Jessica’s post: Church and Awana in the Czech Republic
If you’re an Awana Alumni, connect with us at awana.org/alumni! We’d love to hear your story!