Jovana Chvojka joined the staff of Cru with the desire to see others place their faith in Jesus Christ. In her native country, Czech Republic, atheism is a commonly held ideal. Many students in the University system have no personal opinions on the subject. Their ideas are typically regurgitated opinions from others. “I may not see the fruit,” says Jovana, a wife and mother of four, “But I do enjoy being in the room and seeing change happen in front of my eyes. A change of attitude.”
Spiritual conversations about Christ
In her early years on staff with Cru, Jovana frequently went to the dorms to talk about her faith in the evening when students were around studying or wasting time in their rooms.
When her first child was a baby she cut back and was only able to make it across town one or two evenings a week. Now with four children at home, Jovana still makes it a priority to go start spiritual conversations at the dorms once a week. “It’s emotionally and physically difficult for me because it is best in the evenings,” says Jovana, “but God is so faithful and I think most of the time we are there [in the dorm] God is doing something incredible.”
With that kind of commitment one might assume that Jovana sees students readily accept her message. Not so. Culturally, students in Czech Republic don’t often talk about God. It’s a verbal taboo. The spiritually interested are few and far between.
Jovana prays for spiritual doors to open
One evening with five inches of fresh snow covering all of Prague, Jovana and a fellow staff woman made their way across town to the 12-block area where university students live.
Knocking on doors and initiating conversations using a spiritual interest survey, the women encountered 15 no’s or dead-end conversations in a row. Discouraged, the women paused to pray. “We prayed that God would let us find a real seeker of God,” remembers Jovana.
Behind door number 16 was Jara, a student at the technical university. Jovana asked him for permission to ask a few spiritual interest questions. He agreed and the trio took a seat after promising they wouldn’t say anything about his messy room.
Jovana asked the same survey questions that others had answered a few minutes before. But Jara’s answers had a different tone. Like many students in Prague he said the most important thing in the life of a student was beer. He confessed that girls scared him the most. (“I cannot understand them,” he confessed.) And the goal of his life is to attain a high position at work.
When the questions became more spiritual in nature Jara didn’t lose interest like others before him had. Jovana remembers Jara saying that he believes it is possible for God to exist.
Offering a follow up question to his glimmer of faith the women asked, “What characteristic must God have in order for you to believe in Him?”
The response still resonates in Jovana’s memory. “He said, righteousness is enough,” remembers Jovana, “I was really surprised.”
Continuing the conversation she drew the pictures from the Four Spiritual Laws booklet and explained portions of her own story of coming to faith in Jesus Christ, by receiving His forgiveness for their sin. Jara listened intently.
They talked for an hour, until Jara said he needed to study. Jovana and her coworker asked for permission to visit him again after exams were finished. He agreed and the trio dispersed.
Jovana leaves the results to God
“We were glad to meet somebody who was still listening,” says Jovana, “we think he understood. But we didn’t have so much courage to ask in this first talk if he was ready to receive Christ. I saw on his face that it was too much for this talk. But he was open.”
It has been said that for a person in the Czech Republic to really begin to understand the meaning of the Gospel they must hear it 5-6 times.
Jovana likes to challenge students in their thinking about God, life and eternity. “Usually they have wrong information,” she says, “I can see that change in the conversation.” It is emotionally and physically difficult to take one evening a week away from her family to go initiate spiritual conversations with students in the dorms, but Jovana deeply believes that God is at work in her country. “I believe God wants to save Czech students,” she says.