Martin’s Reformation

Concerns about COVID caused one Czech man to question Catholicism—and find salvation in Christ alone.

From Message magazine issue "Hardship & Harvest: New Missionaries in a Changing World"

Martin, a Roman Catholic in the Czech Republic, was deeply troubled. If he couldn’t attend mass, how could he be sure he would go to heaven if he died from COVID?

When COVID restrictions prohibited regular mass, Martin’s priest assured him that they had a special dispensation during the pandemic and that it wouldn’t jeopardize his salvation. But how could he be sure this dispensation aligned with God’s requirements? Could he trust the priest as the final authority?

In his distress, Martin began reading the Bible for the first time in his life. With each chapter arose more questions. Why pray to Mary? Why not confess sins directly to God?

When Martin approached his priest again with his concerns, the priest sharply told him to stop reading the Bible and to trust the Church to interpret God’s Word. This only intensified Martin’s apprehensions, and he deepened his Scripture study.

He believed what he read, and he finally called out to Christ directly for true salvation.

Martin gradually left the Roman Catholic church, losing lifelong friends and community. Now, each Sunday he drives an hour to Ceske Budejovice, where ABWE missionaries Steve and Cari Wendel labored for nearly a decade to revitalize a small Baptist church plant, the only one in this entire region of the Czech Republic.

That church, once closed off to outsiders, wants to receive more new members like Martin. “We need to find a pastor who will treat this church like a missionary,” one of their leaders said. “Someone who is going to go out and meet people and bring them to church.”

Praise God for this isolated and beleaguered church plant that is now on mission, and pray for Martin’s growth in the faith.