Thursday, May 28, 2009

Growing up in Communism: Our Colleague's Story

Tina is our dear friend and colleague here in Bratislava. She is a native Slovak and does a fantastic job as our photographer and print journalist. (Her photos are amazing!) Tina was here last time Heather was in Slovakia in 2006 and really made her time here memorable.

It was Tina who told me when were in IKEA that she couldn't believe they were selling red kitchens. I asked her what she meant, and she explained that, under Communism, even the colors of their rugs/carpet were chosen for them; for example, they could choose yellow with red dots or white with yellow dots. Tina says she and her father used to go hiking to the top of the mountain, and her dad would point to Austria and explain about the Western world. The things we read about in history books, you know?

We asked Tina to write a bit about her history, and we are SO thankful she obliged. In her own words...

"My grandfather was a Baptist minister from Ukraine. After World War II, he came to live in Slovakia and joined a small church where he served as a lay pastor. I can still remember the smell of his aftershave—saved for special occasions—and the smell of his freshly-ironed white shirt as he prepared for church each Sunday morning. One day, during my summer vacation, I remember opening a cabinet where I found many smuggled Bibles and Christian literature. He explained to me to keep quiet about what I saw.

"My parents were also actively involved in church work during Communism. At that time, any Christian media was forbidden, but the TWR´s radio waves from Monte Carlo were still able to cross the Iron Curtain. I learned about TWR radio by watching my parents and grandparents secretly listening to it during the night. Now, each time I host a music radio show on a TWR´s [National Slovak Partner] Radio7, I feel very privileged that we have the religious freedom to do so. Only 20 years ago, it wasn´t an option and I could have ended up in jail for doing so."

For more about the work TWR did to pierce the Iron Curtain, read about Mike's trip to Bulgaria. Or meet Albert, our Albanian Partner, who first learned about Jesus through Monte Carlo's TWR broadcasts in the 80's while he was scanning the airwaves for enemy radio signals working as leader in the Communist Army. Olexander, TWR's director in Ukraine, tells a similar story of the government placing radios in each home for Communist propaganda. Olexander's grandmother and her church were frightened, but their pastor was confident that God's word would one day come through those waves. Olexander's programs are now being broadcast through his grandmother's radio.

P.S. - Sorry for the delay in writing. The Wenzels' are here visiting and keeping us busy!