Misunderstood, but Loved: Conversion of a Slovakian Priest

By Jan

"My wish is that people in Slovakia will once learn how wonderful this Church is."

I was born to very religious parents. My mother and father had five children before me—one of them died three days after the birth. I also have a younger brother. All of us were raised in deep faith in the almighty God, the Father and his only son, Jesus Christ. We all believe strongly in life after death, in heaven and hell, in angels and demons, in truthfulness of the divine revelations in the Holy Bible, especially in the gospel, in the Holy Spirit and his work among us, in the need of daily prayer, and in the need of being honorable and active members of his only church, etc. Nobody ever doubted a single of these things in my family. Despite this I had plenty of problems with my faith at my teen-age. I was looking for God and I was just upset asking why keeping the Ten Commandments is so difficult. Then I realized I needed a change. I started to cry to God and he answered me.

I was invited to play in a theater group with other young people in our parish, through which I was introduced into Salesians’ work with young people. Salesians—founded by an Italian priest named John Bosco—are a men’s religious congregation (order) in the Catholic Church. They provide a lot of activities for young people in order to educate “brave citizens and honorable Christians” mostly from uneducated, poor, and threatened boys. Don Bosco’s preventive love has inspired a lot of people around the world including me. I decided to follow his example and dedicated my life to the work for the young and the poor. I spent three nice years within communities of great and hardworking Salesians, made friends and got to know a lot of wonderful young people, experienced nice moments on camps, trips, journeys, singing and playing in bands and choirs, and doing things I loved, but there was something wrong. Although I loved this way of life and I believed in its purpose, I was missing something. In summer 2011 I joined the congregation by declaring the three vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience for two years. I hoped to find peace after doing this. I was wrong.

I started studying Catholic philosophy, which I liked, but I made a confession to a priest that “I had left my heart somewhere else and hadn’t let it come with me.” The priest said: “OK, it is still possible to return if you feel like that.” Another priest suggested I visit a psychologist. I disagreed, but in order to stay obedient, I went. As I expected, it was useless. After I had been told to pay another visit to the psychologist I prayed “to sit on the right seat on the train” (literally!). I remember that well because it was the first time I met missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They looked quite surprised meeting somebody who was asking them questions first. So I started meeting with them regularly. At first I found the story about Lehi traveling to America rather strange. Then I learned something new about the Plan of Salvation… OK, I had studied arguments to prove impossibility of pre-Earth existence of human spirits according to the Catholic philosophy… and I really had no need to read the Book of Mormon, nor did I want to go to a Sunday gathering. I had my plans and activities. However, I felt something strong. There was a persuasive force with the guys that I could not disobey. I liked to meet them just because of what I felt while we were talking. And I was unhappy that I could not feel the same with others. Suddenly I was shocked—the missionaries wanted to arrange the date of my baptism. They hardly understood the situation I was in. I, of course, refused. After the summer in 2012 another couple of missionaries contacted me. I did not understand why they were so keen on teaching me. I told them I could not agree with them about my baptism although I admitted that they had the Spirit! When they asked me why, I replied: “I need a proof that the Book of Mormon is true!”

And so my conversion started. “It takes everyday prayer and reading the Book of Mormon, so that you could get your own testimony about it,” said the missionaries. I refused to read it for a couple of weeks. After this time I realized I could not find peace. Then I continued reading and on my way to Košice (again by train) I was suddenly given the testimony of its truthfulness. I began to thank God for such revelation and this made me desire to join the Church and get baptized.

Everything has changed since then. Such belief is not compatible with the Salesians’ way of life. I was sent home, where my “new” attitude was not accepted either. Moreover, there is very strong resistance against new religious movements and denominations among the Catholics in Slovakia. People are often warned not to encounter missionaries and activists from different sects because of their “unclean intentions”, such as distracting people from their religion, putting them off their balance, blackmailing their families, etc. My parents and siblings are all afraid of this. After several attempts to convince them that their view of Mormons is not right, I decided to let time tell the truth. I must say that my parents have remained truly faithful after all, and even though I was asked to leave our shared home, they still love me and support me spiritually although they do not understand me.

I am really grateful for the truth the Church has taught me and for the missionaries who are so keen on passing it on, even though they are frequently refused by people. My great wish is that people in Slovakia will once learn how wonderful this Church is and how much it can help them to know God better.

8 thoughts on “Misunderstood, but Loved: Conversion of a Slovakian Priest

  1. Brint

    Have you ever been camping and stood around a warm fire on cold night? There is nothing quite like feeling of that warmth that radiates from that fire when everything around is cold. Never fails that when there is a fire burning, people come from all around to feel the warmth and enjoy the feeling of security that a nice fire brings to a cold world.

    This same phenomenon will happen for you as you live your life according the gospel of Jesus Christ. When the testimony of truth burns in your heart and you are living the principles found in the gospel of Jesus Christ in your day-to-day life, the light and warmth of God’s spirit will warm your soul, teach you all things and will radiate from you like warmth from a campfire. And, like a fire on a cold night, people will come from all around so they might share in the warmth and love that you radiate.

    Thank you for sharing your story! I love to hear modern-day pioneer stories! Learning from those who have the courage to respond to truth should always inspire each of us in our own quest to find, understand and live our lives according to principles that enable us to find happiness in this life.

    God lives! He knows each of us and desires nothing but for us to find peace and happiness in this life. For this reason, He sent His son, Jesus Christ to live and die for each of us so we may have divine help to overcome our weaknesses and find peace in our lives and in our families.

    Be strong in living your life according to the principles you’ve found in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ! Your example will bring light into the lives of your family and then into your community and then into your country. Generation upon generation will call you blessed for your choice to follow truth.

    Reply
  2. jenny

    Jan, my son sent me a link to this. Your story is incredible and encourages me to continue to talk to my neighbors, friends, and acquaintances about the goodness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
    Sometimes *I* need proof that there are still people out there searching for the answers and peace the gospel brings; in this world at this time, it is easy to become discouraged and feel like no one really cares—they are content with their way of life. You are that proof! People still care and are still searching.
    (I also love that my son gets to have the experience of rooming with you this semester.)
    Best wishes always,
    the B family
    🙂

    Reply
  3. Mike Brousseau

    Jan,

    My son is a missionary in Trencin and delivered a package from you to your family a couple weeks ago. You can read about his experience at chrisbrousseau.blogspot.com. The letter describing the encounter with your family will be published tonight (March 24, 2014 at 8:00 PM MDT). Thank you for your example and for your faith. Your decision will bless your family for generations.

    Best regards,
    Mike

    Reply
  4. Azel

    We have something in common.

    I don’t think that there is a God, still I think that the consciousness cannot die with our physical death becuase we are all part of one cosmic consciousness and if we are in no interaction with our physical bodies that disturb our thinking and acting, we are clear and absolutely eager only to do good things.

    But still this idea is in big conflict with traditional religions, excluding Buddhism e.g.

    But still, the people should always act as it is necessary due to our so far researched things, that the consciousness exists and that it still continues after death. Although this idea is generally refused or not spoken so loudly because the traditional religions still hold tough, it is the fact and in time, it will be generally accepted.

    I am rather afraid of abusing these things. And more, I am afraid that there will be no God to prevent that. Let us just pray to the mankind’s ability to handle this like they could handle the cold war you know.

    Reply

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