The end of Communist rule in Czechoslovakia was brought about during the peaceful Velvet Revolution in 1989. On December 31, 1992, the Czechoslovakian parliament voted to divide the country, and Slovakia became an independent nation. Slovakia became a member of NATO and the European Union in 2004.
The majority of Slovakians are ethnically Slovak (80 percent). Hungarians are the largest ethnic minority (8.5 percent). There is also a large population of Roma.
The official language is Slovak, a member of the Slavic-Language Family, but Hungarian is also widely spoken in the south. Many people also speak Czech. The Roma language is used in the Roma communities.
The Slovak constitution guarantees freedom of religion. The majority of Slovak citizens (62 percent) identify themselves with Roman Catholicism; the second-largest group are people without confession (13 percent). Almost seven percent adhere to Lutheranism, 3.8 percent are Greek Catholic, affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church, other nonregistered churches 8.8 percent. About 2,300 Jews remain of the estimated pre-WWII population of 120,000.
1946-1949 (Czechoslovakia). Missionaries re-entered Slovakia in 1993.
Slovakia was Baptist Mid-Missions’ first European field. 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, equipped missionaries.
John and Lydia Gouge arrived in Slovakia in 1993 and settled in the town of Kezmarok. 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 remained as 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 recent years there has been an increase in interest in sound biblical and theological teaching. The work among teens and young adults has grown. There are several weekly Bible studies and discipleship classes, and two home Bible studies have been started in other parts of the country.
Teaching English as a second language (ESL) has been the most effective way to reach unsaved in the community. Classes are taught in local area businesses and in the Waites’ home.
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.