This arrived today in the mail from Adam. He spoke of sending it a few weeks ago.
This is the story of how the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints became recognized as an official religion in Slovakia. Before Czechoslovakia split, the church had an official presence. When the country split in 1993, the Czech Republic maintained the church’s status. Slovakia, however, did not. They had a rule that there must be at least 20,000 members of a church for it to be recognized. Without this recognition, the Church was unable to own land or rent buildings in the Church’s name. Individual members had to own the property rights and rent out the buildings in their names. With less than 200 members, it was difficult to get people who were willing to do that. Instead, meetings were held in the missionaries’ apartment or in members’ homes. Seeing as there were only 3 or 4 active members in a branch, it wasn’t much of a problem.
Around 2004, a lawyer, who served in Slovakia in the mid-90’s, did some research on this law. He and the mission president made a proposal to the Slovak government that they recognize the Church if they could gain the support of 20,000 native Slovaks. The government agreed and with the blessing of the 1st Presidency the missionaries got to work. (By the time they reached this agreement it was now 2006.) The mission president held a mission conference in Brno in the Czech Republic and presented the plan. Half the missionaries, in the entire mission, would be stationed in Bratislava, Slovakia and take care of all the western cities. The other half would be based in Kosice and take care of the Eastern half. They were led by returned missionaries and native Slovak members. They were required to collect the names, addresses, and the equivalent of a social security number of 20,000 people. In a former communist nation no less! ( many people, especially the older ones, are not trusting of any government dealings and foreigners) The mission had tried hiring a professional signature company consisting of young Slovaks, about the age of us missionaries. In 3 days they collected only a handful of signatures--about a hundred. The mission cancelled that and after the first day that the mission went in to do the work a couple thousand signatures were collected by about 80 missionaries! By the 3rd day, they were well into the teens. The mission president let everyone sleep until 8:00 am and gave them a “day off”. They had been out by 8:00 am and didn’t stop until around 9:00 pm those first three days, so they definitely deserved a rest. By the end of the 5th day over 23,000 signatures were collected! The Czech missionaries went back to Czech Republic and resumed missionary work while those stationed in Slovakia continued to collect signatures. The second week they collected about 10,000 extra signatures. More than enough to cover any mistakes or false entries. The missionaries and members witnessed a miracle. It was answer to many prayers. One member, who is now my teacher here in the MTC, remembers a man there who had fasted every month since the mid-90’s for the church to enjoy the benefits of being recognized. I have no doubt that great faith was required of the members for this miracle to happen. They've received incredible blessings as a result. The church can grow unrestrained, buildings can now be built and stakes can be organized.
How sweet is that? It’s even cooler if you think of what’s happening in Slovakia while reading Alma 23:1-5:
1 Behold, now it came to pass that the king of the Lamanites sent a aproclamation among all his people, that they should not lay their hands on Ammon, or Aaron, or Omner, or Himni, nor either of their brethren who should go forth preaching the word of God, in whatsoever place they should be, in any part of their land.
2 Yea, he sent a decree among them, that they should not lay their hands on them to bind them, or to cast them into prison; neither should they spit upon them, nor smite them, nor cast them out of their asynagogues, nor scourge them; neither should they cast stones at them, but that they should have free access to their houses, and also their temples, and their bsanctuaries.
3 And thus they might go forth and preach the word according to their desires, for the king had been converted unto the Lord, and aall his bhousehold; therefore he sent his proclamation throughout the land unto his people, that the word of God might have no obstruction, but that it might go forth throughout all the land, that his people might be convinced concerning the wicked ctraditions of their fathers, and that they might be convinced that they were all brethren, and that they ought not to murder, nor to plunder, nor to steal, nor to commit adultery, nor to commit any manner of wickedness.
4 And now it came to pass that when the king had sent forth this proclamation, that Aaron and his brethren went forth from acity to city, and from one house of worship to another, establishing churches, and consecrating bpriests and teachers throughout the land among the Lamanites, to preach and to teach the word of God among them; and thus they began to have great success.
5 And athousands were brought to the knowledge of the Lord, yea, thousands were brought to believe in the btraditions of the Nephites; and they were taught the crecords and prophecies which were handed down even to the present time.
I’m just waiting for it all to take off.
Another miracle we just found out about is that the Church just finished its Slovak edition of the Book of Mormon! They have been using the Czech translation. (Many people in Slovakia have no problem reading or listening in Czech, but are not comfortable with the Czech language of scripture Apparently it's strange.) Prophecy is being fulfilled and the Gospel is being taught in one’s own tongue! One day we will have native missionaries serving.
A Note from Adam's mom: A Slovak Book of Mormon is so exciting! I am glad my son will be able to use it! I was worried about that. One thing hindering missionaries is the lack of written material in Slovak. There is also very little online about the church in the Slovak language, so when younger people there who are interested start searching, they don't find much. Hopefully, this will start to change as more native Slovaks and Slovak speakers begin to post more online.