Today we share Part 2 of Tomáš’ story with you. (Read Part 1 Here) Tomáš is a young man living in the Czech Republic. His life has been changed by the Gospel by the power of the Holy Spirit, and humanly speaking, through the work of the Silesian Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession (SECAC) and LCMS GEO Missionary, Benjamin Helge, whom the LCMS has sent to assist the SECAC with a church plant. He recounts here his journey to becoming a Baptized child of God. This article picks up after Tomáš began visiting the “kids club” run by the SECAC where he heard the Gospel.
–By Tomáš Přeček
It was then the time to leave primary school and to choose a high school. My extreme confidence remained. People came to my school to investigate students’ IQ. I tried to cheat these tests to get a result saying I should be a lawyer. My class teacher never trusted me. He always said that I did not have what it takes to become a lawyer and that I should choose some easy high school to attend. I told him that he was a fool, and I began to prepare for high school entrance exams. I studied really hard and achieved amazing results on the test. I was able to choose from the best schools in our city. I felt like I was unstoppable. I was more of a nerd in primary school and no one liked me. So, I chose a high school where no one from my graduating class went.
The first day of high school I walked around the class telling everyone my name trying to make friends. I liked everyone in the class except two guys, Stanley and Lukas. On our first class trip, we played a game called “bottle.” Stanley was chosen to ask one girl a question. He asked, “Do you believe in Jesus Christ?” Everyone was laughing thinking that Stanley was a nerd. My only thoughts were “I’m not going to be able to get rid of this Jesus.” Since I already knew something about Jesus, I slowly got to know Stanley and Lukas better. I was still playing a lot of PC games, but my school results were only “A”s. Stanley and Lukas had the same results so we were very quickly named the “nerdish trio.” My only problem was that when we stopped talking about school or PC games, they started to talk about the Bible, which I didn’t know much about.
I was also very interested in English, and Mirek, a guy from the mission club and who was studying at the same school, talked to me one day and invited me to some English Talk Group thing. He told me that there was food and an English native speaker, Ben. I was really surprised when he told me that the location was the same club room which I knew really well. When I first got there, I met cool people, and I practiced my English. I was pretty much used to hearing the Gospel already so I did not really care that it was included. I would talk to Ben whenever I had an opportunity to do so. Many of our conversations were always somehow leading to God, so I realized that I needed to learn some church vocabulary. I was okay with that because all I wanted was to practice English. I went GEO caching with Ben. We talked on Facebook pretty often. Many of his questions made me think.
It was the beginning of 2015, the biggest year for me. Ben invited Mirek and me for breakfast one morning. I thought with Mirek that we would have great food. Ben made amazing breakfast burritos that day. We spoke in English and all I had to endure was one little prayer before the meal. Ben offered for us to come the next weekend, and we were excited to said, “Yes!” These Saturday breakfasts soon became a tradition. We called ourselves “The Snooze Brotherhood.” With every following Saturday, we were getting closer to discussions about God. This all started when Ben gave us a book, Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. We had agreed on reading just a few pages for every meeting. I loved what was written in the book. This book started discussions and The Snooze Brotherhood became half about God and half about practicing English. I actually loved this because I had new things to talk about with Lukas and Stanley in the school cafeteria. I quickly got a lot of information about the Bible from Lukas, Stanely, Ben and Mirek. I was also given a Bible and I read a few pages when I was bored.
I thought Christians were nice people and everything around Christianity was not bad at all. I was also invited to join Ben at church in Albrechtice, a nearby village. I thought, “Okay, why not?” And so I did. The first feeling I had when I got to the church was that I did not fit into this place at all. I was sitting next to Ben and I sang songs and listened to the Gospel, but I was shocked when people started to say the Creed. I felt like as if they were totally manipulated, brainwashed. I was not comfortable. At first, I did not want to go to church for a second time, but because Ben was the first person in my life who would give me his trust and call me a brother, I thought I would give it a second chance. It was not that bad the second time. I knew what to expect and I felt good.
Everything got insane on Ben’s birthday. We went for pizza and spoke in English. I knew what my life direction was going to be that day. I loved things about Christianity so much that I did not want just information, I wanted to taste it, to live it. I’m pretty sure we both cried that night when I told Ben that I believe Jesus is my Saviour. There were not many moments in my life when I felt so sure of God’s existence. I was walking home from the restaurant and I was talking to myself again. I felt like an angel walking on the street feeling loved, protected, and guided by something with a higher power. Now I knew that my imaginary friend was the same my whole life. He loved me for my whole life even though I did not love Him back before. I got home, opened the Bible, and spent a long time reading.
Since that moment, I lost half of my attributes. I felt so thankful for my life and for my salvation that I wanted to change my behaviour dramatically. I tried to investigate what a Christian should do and started to behave in a way which didn’t hurt my Saviour. But it was really hard for me to change myself completely because there was no one in my family who believed. My grandpa, for example, is a communist, and even though he was the person in my family whom I loved the most, he let me down by shouting at me, saying that what I believed was stupid. I was sitting there in his apartment when I found out that my grandma believes in God, but she was not allowed to pray or to visit the church because of my grandpa. At this time, I found out that my ancestors believed in God, and it was my grandpa who was the evil that destroyed this. I did not lose my faith in Jesus though and I called my grandpa a fool.
It was even hard for my friends to believe that I believed. They would say that I was joking, but who really was my friend, accepted me with this change. As a result, my friend list sadly was reduced.
It was the beginning of summer when we had a retreat with English Talk Group. I had a part time job for that weekend, but Ben used everything he could to convince me to go. This was the best retreat I was ever on. I felt amazing in the fellowship of Christians. I also met there my current girlfriend, and my future wife I believe. God blessed me with so many gifts that I was full of joy.
After the retreat, in July 2015, there was a group of Americans in my city. After their arrival to the Czech Republic, they visited English Talk Group. It was amazing for me to talk to them, and I loved to talk with them about God. I got very close to them and tried to be with them as much as possible. Every day we spent together, we finished with a prayer in a circle. I felt amazing again. I felt the Holy Spirit right next to us. I love those guys. When they were leaving I did what I had never done before. It was me who was saying the prayer. I was given a lot of joy from them and we are still in contact. This was one of the biggest inspirations for how effective the sharing of the Gospel can be.
It was around the end of summer when I decided that I was missing one important piece of the puzzle. My goal for the following months was to be baptized. I contacted our pastor and asked if I could have the baptism immediately. I thought it would be easy, but there was a long path to go along. I had a meeting with the pastor every week talking about Christian life, Jesus, the Bible and everything I needed to know. I watched a movie about Martin Luther. I was told many things I did not know, and it all resulted in my baptism happening on the 20th of December, 2015. Many people came for this event and Stanley was also there. I was allowed to have two God-brothers, but since Stanley does not really think things through, he thought that by inviting him to the church I had asked him to be my God-brother. The funny part was that I only had two spaces. It was obviously Ben and Mirek, my brothers for life that I appreciate the most. When pastor called me and my two God-brothers to the front of the church, Stanley also came with them. There were so many of us in front of the pastor that people asked, “Who is having the baptism?” We said the Creed. I shared my testimony and received the Holy Water, the final piece of the puzzle. I felt so blessed at that moment. Finally I felt like a real Christian.
This is the story about how God can take a little kid without any respect and how he can be saved. It is only by God’s grace.
- This summer, missionary Benjamin Helge will be bringing students from the Czech Republic to the National Youth Gathering. Tomáš is one of the students who are going. Ben’s students are about 50% funded. If you’d like to help send these students to the NYG this summer, you can learn more from this document to find out how you can donate through the LCMS. Czech_Student_Sponsorship_Form.02