“When I came to Brno for my studies, I first thought that I would not go look for the church community and that I would not be joining it. Surprisingly, during the first fourteen days I was feeling very upset. Maybe it was due to the fact that I was away from home for a longer period of time for the first time in my life. So I went looking for the church. I was internally unsure whether to become a believer, whether to accept the faith, it was also clear to me that this would have an impact on my career. And I was an ambitious person. So I hesitated. But then once I did not go to a lecture and read the Bible instead. And I prayed to make the right choice. And by that time, I did make the right choice. The choice to be a Christian, whatever it takes.”
„Of course, there were implications when I finished university and started working in the directorate of Vodní díla in Ostrava. I wanted to work in dams building. Their personnel asked me during the interview whether I was faithful. And I said yes. And she asked how did this happen. I said I had a believing brother and that he was a role model for me. So she asked whether this was because of the brother or because of my parents. I said I became Christian because of myself. With that I had sentenced myself to never having any higher position in that company. I remember that when I was later working in Odra river water management, even after they kicked me out from the company management after 1968, that I was working hard and with diligence. My experienced colleague said it was pointless, that I didn’t even need to try because nobody would take it into consideration, neither would it increase my salary. He was right. That’s how things were during the Communist era. The most important thing back than was the Red book [Party membership].“
“I remember that when they offered me a better career placement for the first time in 1984, under the condition that I cease working for the church. I refused to do that, saying that I would be a fool, I would lose people’s trust in me. So I refused the offer. But a year later they came to me again, asking whether I would be interested in becoming the production manager in a construction company in Ostrava. And I asked them whether there was any other condition. They said there wasn’t. By that time they were already losing ground. So I joined this company. And I was very successful in that job. Some colleagues were saying that God was sending me to help them fulfill the 5-year-plan.”
I could have done a career, provided I had left the church
Jaroslav Orawski was born on 30 May 1937 in Mosty, near Český Těšín. He grew up in a very poor family. By the end of the 1940’s, his brother introduced him to the Church of Brethren (Církev bratrská). Faith became an important part of his life. He studied construction engineering at a technical university in Brno and became an expert in constructing dams. While working in Odra river water management, he was ostracized for being active in church. He had no chance of advancing his career or getting a pay increase. Better job offers were conditioned by him leaving the church. He refused. He got into further trouble by publicly denouncing the occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Pact troops in 1968. In 1986, he decided to leave the engineering profession and became a professional preacher. Thanks to his efforts, new churches were built in the regions of Ostrava, Karviná, as well as in other parts of northern Moravia. He became one of the most prominent figures of the Church of Brethren and after 1989, worked on its further development.