Category: Pastor’s Pen

Joy-filled family

As we approach Autumn (Fall) I am reminded of the creativity and grace of God. How can anyone experience the weather, the colourful changes happening around us, look at the beautiful crafted mountains, stare into the seeming unending universe with all its undiscovered galaxies … and still not believe in God? The intricate nature of how the human body and nature around us work is proof of God’s design – nothing is left to chance and nothing this special could’ve simply developed on its own.

But, as much as I am intrigued by God’s design and almighty power, I am also amazed at his grace in being willing to accept and forgive a sinner like me. Despite my rebellion against a holy God, despite my inability to reach his standard to please Him, God himself came to earth in the Person of Jesus Christ to take my sins on Himself, dying to pay the penalty for the sins of the world, and now offers the gift of forgiveness and eternal life to anyone who accepts Jesus as Lord and Saviour.

And then God accepts us into his family, provides us with a family of believers, so that we are not alone. Not only does God live in us by his Holy Spirit, He also ensures that we have brothers and sisters to love and support us.

And for most of us it is great to know that Bratislava Faith Community is that family for us – our true “family away from home”. In our fellowship we can laugh, sing, pray, worship, love, reach out, support, cry and rejoice over every person God adds to his (and our) family.

Let’s together make this family a wonderful and joyful place to be!

World-wide impact

Summer is such nice weather, providing us with an opportunity to be outdoors and enjoy God’s wonderful creation for a different perspective. It’s also the time when the schools have a break, many are travelling to see the world or to visit family in their home country. While all this is clearly understandable and to be encouraged, it does mean that attendance on Sundays at our worship services is affected. However, God does not sleep and the church does not take a break either! It’s great to have a home church and a “family away from home”. Whether you are in Bratislava or travelling somewhere in the world, please continue to pray for our church, that God would use us to reach the expat community in our city.

We rejoice in the fact that we are able to witness a baptism this month. It does not happen often enough, but when it does, it’s a great opportunity for us to truly celebrate the Lord’s saving grace. We pray that the Lord will bring salvation to many more as we seek to be witnesses in our families, neighbourhood and at work.

Although the numbers in church on Sundays do not always reflect it, it is good to be reminded that our church has made a major impact in the lives of many people since its inception in the 1990’s. It is no over-statement to say that hundreds of people have either visited or been part of the church here in Bratislava. Each one of these has been impacted by the international make-up of the church, tasting a bit of what heaven will be like with multitudes of different languages, nations, cultures gathering to worship our God and Saviour (Revelation 7:9).


I am praying that all of us are growing in our appreciation of who God is, how deep our salvation goes, how much God loves us and how wide the kingdom of God stretches around the world. May our church continue to focus on God’s grace, God’s Word, true worship and caring hearts to reach out to those who still need to experience salvation offered through Jesus Christ.

An ongoing story

Royal wedding reflections (pictures, analyses and more pictures!), Soccer World Cup, students taking examinations, end-of-school-year buzz, summer break, people travelling … it’s all happening in June 2018! Yes, June has arrived and with it much excitement as we are able to enjoy the outdoors much more than other times of the year. It also provides an opportunity for us to appreciate God’s creation from “up close” much better and more often.

Being in nature and seeing the beauty of it is a great reminder of the start of the Bible’s message: “In the beginning God created the heavens and earth” (Genesis 1:1). But, as Genesis clearly states, this was only the beginning. The Bible goes on to describe the progress of God’s story through Adam & Eve, Noah, Abraham, David, ultimately culminating in the coming of Jesus Christ to this world. And in the New Testament we discover that this was God’s plan and purpose all along. However, it did not happen overnight. God did not fast-forward the story! Many years, thousands of people and numerous events (good and bad) contributed to the chapters preceding the coming of Christ.

And the story of God continued through the Early Church in the First Century and for the past 2000 years. And, if you are a Christian, you form part of the ongoing story of God, planned even before the creation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). The final page of the story of life on earth as we know it will only be written once Jesus returns to earth at the Second Coming. Then life will continue in the presence of God for eternity – a wonderful reality to look forward to.

So, next time you enjoy the outdoors or get a glimpse of God’s wonderful creation, think about the story of God, culminating in your own salvation through Jesus Christ the Saviour.

Enjoy the Summer! And God’s blessings that come with it…

Overcoming cultural barriers

I am currently reading through the Book of Acts again. In it the author, Luke, tells the story of the Early Church, following on from his earlier description (in the Gospel of Luke) of the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Acts is the story of the Church, which against all odds, marched on and took the 1st Century world by storm.

Not that it was easy! The early Christians and missionaries faced many difficulties and challenges. They travelled great distances by sea or land, faced persecution and rejection, had to overcome cultural and language barriers in different countries, while trying to convince both Jew and Gentile that Jesus of Nazareth is the Saviour of the world. After the first eight chapters, Luke begins to focus on the life and travels of the Apostle Paul – how he persecuted Christians, became a Christian himself, travelled to distant places to establish churches, and ended up in Rome, the capital of one of the largest and most successful empires in history.

The story of Paul ends with Paul in Rome where, although under house arrest, had freedom to preach the Gospel to all who paid him a visit. This proves both the far-reaching impact of the Gospel of Christ, as well as the fact that spreading the Gospel is still an unfinished task. Hence the “open-ended” ending of the Book of Acts.

And this is where we fit into the story…

As an international church we, in some sense, face similar challenges to that of the Early Church. Many of us travelled great distances to get to Bratislava, experienced culture shock, while we continue to face cultural and language barriers on a daily basis. But my encouragement from the story in Acts is that none of these things should prevent us from being effective witnesses in the places where we live, work and play. Just as the Holy Spirit filled and used the early believers, so we can trust Him to empower us and use us as instruments in his hands to spread the Good News that Jesus is Lord and Saviour.

May He make us faithful in shining the Light in our world!

Sharing with expats

As we already got full-steam into this new year it is good to know that we serve a great God, who exists from eternity to eternity. The Bible says that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). With all the changes and challenges we face on a daily basis, as well as the fact that we don’t know what this year will bring or what the future holds for each of us, it is comforting to know that God is in control of our yesterdays and tomorrows!

Now that we are already a full month into 2018, I pray that the Lord would guide, protect and provide for you, as well as for our church in all that we need to bring Him glory throughout this year.

One of our biggest challenges and opportunities as a church is to reach the expat community of our city. More foreigners are coming to Slovakia each year, most of them to Bratislava. Many come to simply experience a different world, others to study at university, while some come to settle here for the foreseeable future, either because of a job offer or as a result of cross-cultural marriage. We need to identify these expats in our community, where we live, work and “play” to be able to invite them to join us as we worship the God of the Bible, the unchanging God who revealed himself to us through Jesus Christ. So, be on the look-out for people who speak English and are not fluent enough in Slovak to be able to join a Slovak church or be challenged to consider Jesus as Saviour.

Join me as we pray that God would open up opportunities to share the Good News of the Gospel with those with whom we rub shoulders on a regular (or once-off!) basis. Pray that God would use the website, Facebook and other forms of promotion to reach the many expats who live or visit our city.


Christmas 2017 has come and gone … always a great time of fellowship, family and (especially) an opportunity to remember and celebrate the greatest event in history – that “the Word became flesh” (John 1:14) to live with us and bring salvation to a dying world. I trust you had a great and joy-filled Christmas!

Christmas always reminds me that we are approaching the end of another year and that a new year starts soon. That time has arrived! Although some people feel sad and almost depressed, especially since it’s winter, cold and there is very little evidence of life in the outdoors, it can also be a great time to look forward to what will happen in the next season of our lives.

New Year gives us an opportunity to reflect on our lives, as we look back to what happened in the past year and then anticipate (plan) where we want to be in the next year. What did you miss or mess up this past year? How will you ensure that it will be better in the next year? New Year gives us a chance to make (and keep!) some resolutions, such as spending more time with God in prayer, Bible reading, church fellowship and sharing our faith. To give more attention to family, friendships and relationships. To pursue studies, career, health and fitness … and a host of other good things.

I encourage you to do at least the following:

  • Take time to reflect. Don’t rush the process.
  • Write down your wishes and dreams (be bold and “wild”!).
  • Identify only those wishes that would make a real difference to you and your world (personal, family, work) and prayerfully commit them to the Lord.
  • Write down a few simple resolutions, including how you are going to ensure that they are kept.

Silly Season

The month of December is upon us, indicating both that the end of another year is just around the corner, and that the so-called “Silly Season” has arrived! This is the season when so much is seen and heard about Christmas, Xmas, Santa Clause and all the characters and items associated with this time of the year. Trees, lights, Christmas markets, gifts, stars, parties, and much more…

For us as Christians there is nothing “silly” about this season. In fact, it’s the season when we celebrate the MOST significant event in all of the history of the world. The God of heaven left his heavenly glory to take on our human existence, being born in a humble stable as the first-born baby of a young couple, somewhere in obscurity where most of the world, even the people in his home country, did not even know or recognize this event. This baby would grow up to become the long-awaited Messiah who died in place of sinners like us to set us free, to be forgiven by the grace and mercy of God.

Most people in the world know about the Christmas tradition and holidays. Many (most) of them do not understand the true significance of the Christmas message. It is therefore our duty and privilege to let others know about Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah born to save the world.

One way in which we can do it is by displaying the right focus of Christmas AND by living it out! We should do so by celebrating the Day and Season in humble submission to our Lord Jesus Christ, seeking in all that we do to bring Him glory We can “tone” down on the excesses in money, gifts, food and other celebrations, and show that we CAN enjoy Christmas, but for the right reasons. For us this is the most Significant Season! How will YOU celebrate Christmas this year? What kind of season will it be for you?

Wishing you a Christ-filled December and Christmas time!

Gerhard & Joan

Welcome back to all who have been away

While our (rather hot) summer is still lingering and we begin to see early signs of autumn (“Fall”, for Americans!), we are very aware of the fact that a new school year is upon us. With the new year and end-of-summer it also feels as if the church is getting back to some “normality” – if there is even such a thing as a “normal” church! It’s great to enjoy the warm weather, holidays and travelling, but life does need to go on and get back in some sort of routine.

Welcome back to all who have been away, making use of all the opportunities offered by summer-time in Europe. We also would like to welcome all the newcomers to our city. We thank the Lord for giving us the opportunity to be your family away from home.

Many expats pass through Bratislava – and more are coming with all the developments taking place and big companies opening operations (offices, factories) in and around our city. Please be on the look-out for newcomers and invite them to join us as we serve the Lord together as a family of believers.

On Sunday, 10th September, we are offering a unique and new opportunity to invite newcomers to an afternoon/evening of fun, fellowship, snacks, games and also a talk about what it means to live and work in Bratislava. This is your opportunity to reach out and participate in extending the Kingdom of God in our city.

Thank you for being our family-away-from-home. We pray for our church and for you as members on a regular basis.

Summer 2017

Summer is here in full swing with beautiful days, lovely sunshine and ideal weather to fully enjoy life outside, do some travelling and visiting new places. I hope that you are making the most of all your opportunities to enjoy this great gift from God.

As much as many of our members are travelling, we also are on the receiving end of people visiting our city. It’s wonderful to meet people at church who either just arrived or who are simply passing through. I am especially encouraged by the fact that people make time to find a place of worship when they are travelling, visiting or arrive to stay for a while. As people “stop by” it gives us an opportunity to reach out to them with God’s love. It’s great to see our members engage with visitors – something I want to encourage us to continue to do. In this way we not only share the love of Christ with them, but also provide visitors and newcomers with the “family-away-from-home”, so much needed when we are away from our home countries. Our church has a reputation of being warm and friendly. Let’s keep it that way!

During the month of August many new people will arrive in Bratislava in preparation for the new school year or to come to work on a contract basis. Let us keep our eyes and ears open to see those who are new, and who are open to be invited to come to church. If you have a new colleague or neighbour, bear in mind that they are in need of friendship and may be very open to discuss issues of faith with you. We are also planning to have an event for newcomers early in September to which you can invite them to come.

As you continue to enjoy the summer weather, please remember what we learned from Jesus about the Christian Way in the Sermon on the Mount. May He help us to live in such a way that our lives will attract others to Him.

With much love and prayer for you

Gerhard & Joan