Living hospitably in the Czech Republic

Living hospitably in the Czech Republic

New mission partners Lea and Petra Williams on how getting to grips with a new ministry has been shaped by the war in Ukraine

Photo : Citizens of Brno protest the war in Ukraine (Lea and Petra Williams/Church Mission Society)

When we left for the Czech Republic last September with a vision of living hospitably, we had no idea that the world would change so much…

By Lea Williams

In September 2021 my wife Petra and I, along with our two children Olivia (11) and Theodore (9) relocated to Brno, Czech Republic, to begin our time as mission partners with CMS.

Brno is the second largest and fastest growing city in the Czech Republic after Prague.

Located in the east of the country, this former industrial city that stagnated under the communist regime is reinventing itself as a place of engineering and development.

Young and secular

It is also a place of learning with 80,000 students calling the city home. It feels young. In fact, one in five people in Brno are students.

Lea and Petra Williams

However, according to recent Pew Research, the Czech Republic is also the most secular nation in Eastern Europe.

Against this backdrop our work will be focused on evangelism and discipleship.

One aspect is joining in with what God had already started in a small Anglican congregation. We long to see a vibrant Christian community develop, committed to the practice of missional hospitality, where people can encounter the Christian faith in culturally relevant ways and in time be resourced to lead.

World-shaking events

When we left for the Czech Republic last September with a vision of living hospitably, we had no idea that the world would change so much. At the time of writing, 371,282 people from Ukraine, mainly older people, women and children, have been granted temporary protection visas by the Czech Republic.

The government and NGOs are trying to transition from short-term crisis activities to more long-term support. The situation has shaped our ministry activities these past months.

Ted and Olivia bringing donations for refugee support

Petra is working with an organisation in the city centre, which was formerly a women’s refuge but is now centred on helping refugees with everyday essentials such as clothes and toiletries, sorting and distributing donations, and providing care and support.

Recently the organisation was gifted the use of a former monastery by the Catholic Church and work to furnish it ready for it to be used as short-term accommodation for women and children is now complete.

Student prospects

In addition to developing and investing in the church community I am preparing for the new academic year. I have a meeting planned with the leader of a well-established Czech evangelical student organisation that shares Jesus in relevant ways, enabling students to grapple with the big questions of life: what is my purpose, is there a reality beyond what I can see, and what will give my life lasting meaning?

They’re doing great work and I’m excited to see how we may work together.


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