Land & People
The end of Communist rule in Czechoslovakia was brought about during the peaceful Velvet Revolution in 1989. In July 1992 Slovakia declared itself a sovereign state, meaning that its laws took precedence over those of the Czechoslovakian federal government. The federal parliament voted to dissolve the country officially on December 31, 1992. Czechoslovakia became two separate nations, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, although they remain close partners. Slovakia became a member of NATO and the European Union in 2004.
The majority of the inhabitants of Slovakia are ethnically Slovak (85.8 percent). Hungarians are the largest ethnic minority (9.7 percent). Other ethnic groups include Roma and Ukranians.
The official language is Slovak, a member of the Slavic-Language Family, but Hungarian is also widely spoken in the south and enjoys a co-official status in some municipalities. Many people also speak Czech.
The Slovak constitution guarantees freedom of religion. The majority of Slovak citizens (68.9 percent) identify themselves with Roman Catholicism; the second-largest group are people without confession (13 percent). Almost seven percent belong to Lutheranism, 4.1 percent are Greek Catholic, affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church, other non-registered churches 1.1 percent. About 2,300 Jews remain of the large estimated pre-WWII population of 90,000.
Year Entered by BMM1946-1949 (Czechoslovakia). Missionaries reentered Slovakia in 1993.
Slovakia was the first European field for Baptist Mid-Missions. Dan and Ida Feryance were assigned to Czechoslovakia in 1946. Many were won to the Lord before the Communist coup in 1948 led to the departure of all BMM personnel by 1949. The Feryances then began ministry in France.
After the door to Slovakia opened again in 1989, the Feryances reopened the ministry in Slovakia, even though they had officially retired. Each return visit brought excellent reports of people being saved and discipled as well as ministry opportunities waiting for a new generation of God-called and equipped missionaries.
John and Lydia Gouge arrived in Slovakia in 1993 and settled in the town of Kezmarok. Their first two years were spent studying the language, helping the Baptist church in Poprad, and teaching in other Baptist churches in Slovakia. Phil and Dianne Schmitt arrived in Slovakia in 1995 and assisted the Gouges until their move to Ireland. Don and LeAnne Waite arrived in Kezmarok in 2001. Following the Gouges’ retirement in 2005, the Waites remain the only BMM missionaries in Slovakia. Baptist Mid-Missions has acquired a 100-year lease on property in Kezmarok, providing church, office, and housing facilities. Baptist Mid-Missions is officially registered in Slovakia, giving us a wide-open door for service. The congregation in Kezmarok has been organized into a Baptist church.
In October of 2007 a new ministry was started in partnership with another missionary family among the Roma (Gypsy) people. The work has been challenging but rewarding. The Roma are a completely unreached people group in Slovakia.
Prospects for ministry in Slovakia are great. Pray that God will speedily provide additional missionaries to assist in the ministry of planting churches as well as to serve in a Bible institute and with youth ministries.
The Roma (Gypsy) population is large, and there is a great need for help in reaching them with the gospel of Christ.
Learn more about Slovakia here.