Peter Gaži, 27, is from Valaliky, a village near Košice, Slovakia. We first met Peter when he was a senior in high school and we taught English there. We've kept in touch with him over the years and have had opportunity to share meals in his home with him and his family and to attend the service where he was set aside as a deacon in the church. We were not able to be present at his ordination as a priest, though our thoughts and prayers were with him. While visiting Peter in Lomnicka where he has served as a chaplain since mid-2013, we spoke about faith and what his prayer was for his people.
"To believe is worth it," he began. He spoke about how demotivating it is to live without faith and the blessings that come to the believer and also to others through the life of someone who has faith. The individual, their family, school, everything changes when a person begins to live a life of faith. And this faith is visible to others and gives them a source of hope as well because, "It is demotivating to live without hope. Hope gives a future - a transformed future." And then he mentioned something which really caught my attention. He spoke of "an impulse towards hope."
When I asked what he meant by that, he said that the most important impulse or glimpse of how everything can be transformed by faith and fill a person with hope, is Jesus Christ. And quickly he added that it is possible to have an impulse towards hope from others as well, "another person - a mother or teacher. Maybe Ghandi or Martin Luther King, Jr. can also be for someone an impulse towards hope." From Jesus and perhaps these type people we can catch a glimpse of what life can be like when transformed by faith and filled with hope. "The hope which comes from and is the impulse for transformation can also transform the whole nation."
Looking out the window we noticed the dozens of children playing in the road. Lomnicka is not only an all-Roma village, its population has the youngest average age of any other city in Slovakia at just eighteen years old. This year in the church they expect 150 to participate in Confirmation. "This why it is important to find that hope" Peter added as he gazed at the group of children. I commented to Peter that he had lost a little weight since I saw him last. "I've lost more than 30 pounds. Lomnicka is not an easy place to serve" he says with a smile.
- For Peter and the impulse towards hope he represents.
- For the people in Lomnicka and for the servants of the church who serve, often at great personal sacrifice, in order to show God's love.
- For more openness and dialogue between different religious groups who may serve side-by-side in a community yet rarely seek ways of serving together.
Shane McNary, Slovakia and Czech Republic