Grieving the Empty Seats
In the evenings, when there was more time to talk, I asked Pavel about what it was like as a Slovakian in eastern Europe to live under Communism, the merits and the drawbacks. I expected him to focus on the drawbacks, but he began by pointing to the merits.
‘Under Communism, there was no unemployment,’ Pavel revealed. I asked whether this was because the economy was so efficient that it produced full employment. He answered, ‘No, it was because unemployment was illegal. Indeed, the Communists guaranteed every person a job.’ He also admitted that people didn’t have to work very hard under Communism. Since keeping a job didn’t depend on a person’s performance, but on the government’s guarantee, there wasn’t incentive to work hard.
He continued by adding that, under Communism, the Bible-believing churches were always full. This was in spite of the fact that the government sometimes sent spies to attend worship services to insure that no evangelism was taking place. Some of Pavel’s friends had, in fact, been spirited away to some unknown incarceration. It was a time of great persecution, conceded Pavel. But it was a persecution that strengthened the church.
Taken aback, I asked Pavel whether he would then welcome a return to Communism. He responded instantly: ‘Absolutely not, we are far better off without it.’
In the next many moments, and in my presence, he expressed tremendous grief over the fact that the Bible-believing churches of Slovakia are only partly full. He said the empty seats on Sunday mornings were impossible for him to bear, knowing that each seat represented a soul who might otherwise be introduced to new life in Jesus Christ. Pavel sighed, ‘In my prayers, I have pleaded with the Lord to show me how I could do better, how I could draw more people to Jesus Christ. Lord, give me ideas. Give me boldness. All I want, heavenly Father, is to see men and women and children come to faith in your Son.’
I want to hear an echo of Pavel’s prayer in my own prayers. ‘Lord, fill up the empty seats at Camelback Bible Church with new people, with the lost, the strayed, and the broken. Please bring a great harvest of souls for your glory.’
Pavel is a good man, and I was enriched by time in his presence.
Blessings in Christ!
Read more posts from the series here:
- Tokens of Love and Gratitude to Christ | Part 1
- Tokens of Love | Part 2: History of Poland
- Tokens of Love | Part 3: Through Our Suffering, God Can Work Mightily
- Tokens of Love | Part 4: Freedom in Jesus Christ
- Tokens of Love | Part 5: Poland’s Favorite Sons
- Tokens of Love | Part 6: Peace and Freedom
- Tokens of Love | Part 7: Assurance of Eternal Life
- Tokens of Love | Part 8: Exploring Krakow
- Tokens of Love | Part 9: From Artistry to Depravity
- Tokens of Love | Part 10: The World Slowly Being Transformed into a Wilderness
- Tokens of Love | Part 11: New Life in Christ
- Tokens of Love | Part 12: Reaching Gypsies
- Tokens of Love | Part 14: The Greatest Work of All
- Tokens of Love | Part 15: The Kingdom Plans of the Lord
- Tokens of Love | Part 16: Until We Dance at the Foot of God’s Throne
- Tokens of Love | Part 17: Fullness of Life