Czech Republic – CELEBRATIONS of the 20th anniversary of Salvation Army work restarting in the Czech Republic recognized the huge steps that have been made through this fledgling ministry.
In 1990, following some initial contacts and a request of President Vaclav Havel to the then General Eva Burrows, The Netherlands Territory took on the responsibility to restart Salvation Army work that began in Czechoslovakia in 1919 before being suppressed in 1950. Much growth has happened since 1990. Corps and social projects have been opened, soldiers and adherents enrolled, and Czech officers trained and appointed. Having being registered as a social organization by the Czech government, the Army is now working towards being officially recognized as a church.
Hundreds of people gathered for a march of witness on Saturday, October 9th in the Square of the Republic in the center of Prague. Behind the Czech Salvation Army flag and Rotterdam East Band from The Netherlands, Salvationists and Army friends marched through the center of the Czech capital.
After the march there was a celebration and worship meeting in the Lucerna Theatre, Wenceslas Square. More than 300 people from across the Czech Republic joined together for worship and to thank the Lord for what he made possible in their country. In his Bible message Commissioner Hans van Vliet (Territorial Commander, The Netherlands and Czech Republic Territory) spoke of God the Loving Father who is looking for the lost and wants to find them.
Music was provided by the national worship band and the Rotterdam East Band.
Lieutenant Jana Kováčikova spoke in her testimony about how the Lord called her to serve him and her people through The Salvation Army. At the end of the meeting many people responded to the altar call given by the Chief Secretary, Colonel Piet Dijkstra, by coming forward to offer themselves to the Lord or to thank him for what he has done.
Among special guests at a reception after the meeting were the Dutch Ambassador, J. C. Henneman, and British Ambassador, Sian MacLeod, who expressed her appreciation for the work of The Salvation Army
A benefit concert at the theatre in the evening was hosted by TV presenters Adéla en Dalibor Gondík. Well-known Czech artists gave their services, including singer Ilona Csáková, boys choir Boni Puerí, and the band Poste Restante. During the programme Pavla Vopelakova, assistant to the national leader, spoke about the work of The Salvation Army in the Czech Republic.
Sunday began with a meeting in The Salvation Army’s hostel in Prague, during which Wil van Vliet and Envoy Koos Tinga received certificates recognizing their exceptional service to The Salvation Army. Both are Dutch Salvationists and employees who have been involved with the work in the Czech Republic since it restarted. Tonda Plachy and Pavla Vopelakova were also recognized with certificates.
A highlight in this meeting was the appointment of Pavol and Petra Kristofovi as envoys. After the ceremony conducted by the territorial commander, the Dutch bandsmen and other Dutch visitors sang a benediction based on words from Numbers 6. The benediction is not known in Czech but after the commissioner explained the words and the final ‘Amen’ was sung the congregation responded with a long reverential silence.
The afternoon open-air meeting caught the attention of people who were out enjoying the lovely weather. Many stopped to listen and Czech Salvationists were able to talk with some of them about faith and the gospel of Jesus.
Many contacts were made during these days of celebrations and the Czech Salvation Army was able to testify about the Lord Jesus in different ways and to many people.