We love the paradoxes of Prague. Having been spared the bombs that hit most of Europe during World War II, this very modern city still has an ancient, fairytale feel. We can see a 1000-year-old castle from our house, and we also have wireless internet. Prague has Smart cars and cobblestone streets, centuries-old buildings with a Starbucks on the ground floor.
Some paradoxes are sad. Although Prague and the surrounding area has a rich Christian history, the Czech Republic now has one of the least religious populations in Europe. About 60% of Czechs are self-described atheists or agnostics; fewer than 1% are Protestant. Decades of Communist rule after World War II stamped out any Christian influence left after centuries of religious conflict. The light of the Gospel hasn’t gone out here, but it’s burning dimly.
Prague suffers not only from the lack of the Gospel, but from the presence of evil. The sex trade flourishes here– everything from legalized prostitution to trafficking of women and children. Drug and alcohol abuse is rampant. The country, in many ways, is still struggling to emerge from the fog of totalitarian rule.
But while the need for the gospel is great in Prague, so is the opportunity. We find many people to be essentially atheist or agnostic by default, with no exposure to the gospel, which means they can be intrigued to meet a real live Christian. We’re often viewed with suspicion, but rarely with open hostility. In the international community, which includes many Czechs, lots of people are lonely and looking to make friends– even if that means trying church. So people in Prague are often more open to the Gospel than first impressions might suggest.
We love to call this beautiful city home. We believe one day, along with crying “Holy, holy, holy!” around God’s throne, there will be many crying “Sváty, sváty, sváty!” We hope God will use our family here to bring that about.