A Conversation with Martin Hasik

More than 35 years ago, a Czech woman named Dagmar Bruzova met a group of Young Life staff in Europe. After that initial contact, Bruzova starting praying for Young Life to start in her country.

Ten years ago, Mike and Anne Quesnell and Bill and Lori Gregory — who were already on Young Life staff — moved to the Czech Republic to begin ministry. They spent the first few years learning the language and culture, building relationships and teaching at a local school. About 60 kids came to the first club, but when kids were told the purpose of club and that they would hear a short message about God, 60 pairs of eyes rolled. About 30 showed up for the next club, and attendance dwindled to a handful of kids by the end of the year.

There are two clubs in Prague, a city of more than 1.2 million people. Club is led by six volunteer leaders and several staff, including the Gregorys, Barb Iverson and Martin Hasik, the first Czech national on Young Life staff. Hasik visited the United States last fall and was
interviewed about how God guided him into ministry.
  
Young Life is relatively new in the Czech Republic. How did you learn about it?
I was sharing the Gospel with kids in my neighborhood. When Bill Gregory heard about that, he asked me to volunteer with Klub Skala (skala means “rock”), a club he started in 1997. Bill says I was doing Young Life before I knew what it was.

I started volunteering in 1998. I had another job at the time at an insurance company. I came to a turning point in my job. I could go higher (which meant more hours and probably no Young Life) or devote myself full time to Young Life. I realized how much I loved working with the club.

When I told my boss I wanted to quit, he thought that doubling my salary would convince me to stay. Instead, I took it as confirmation that Young Life was the right thing.
 
How did God draw you to Him?
As a kid, I went to church with my mom and sister. When I was older, I didn’t make it all the way to church because there was a soccer field halfway to the church. I thought church was good for old people who were afraid of dying, but for me?

The saying, “God will reach you just where you are,” is true of me. All I loved were sports, movies and traveling, and those were the things God used to reach me.

American football was coming to Prague, and I wanted to play. So I went to a conference, “How God Can Improve Your Game.” I went for the “improve” part, not the “God” part. There I heard the Gospel, and for the first time I read the Bible.

I still couldn’t figure out why someone would die for someone else until I saw the movie The Bodyguard. Kevin Costner’s character was willing to give his life for someone he loved. As I watched that movie, the Gospel clicked for me.

I had a strong desire to share my faith, and I enrolled in seminary. Between classes, I played basketball with kids and talked about God. The other seminary students laughed, “What are you doing playing games with kids?”
 
How does your experience help you understand the kids at Klub Skala? 
It gives me patience when I wonder, “How much more do we need to give before it makes sense to these kids?” But I remember it took me two years to sort out my faith.
 
Kids think that God is a fairy-tale concept. The idea that He is real and wants to have something to do with them is totally absurd. This belief is a tremendous hurdle in sharing the Gospel. Recently, we had a camp where the kids rolled their eyes and laughed at us as we talked seriously about God.

However, because of their free time and the lack of relationships with parents and teachers, we have an opportunity to build friendships. This is extremely attractive to students, and that is the genius of Young Life, isn’t it? Fun and friendship.

We have two clubs, and 35 kids come regularly. Recently, we had two kids decide to follow Jesus, and now they help as junior leaders.

Our [club] meetings are great even though we don’t have big meeting places or much equipment. But we have a wonderful time together — we play games, eat, laugh, sing and talk a lot to catch up with each other. Before we leave, one of the leaders gives a club talk.
 
What are your dreams for Young Life Prague?
I would like to have a club going every day of the week in more schools. I hope we can get a Young Life camp so we can have more activities during holidays and weekends.

I would like to see Young Life in the Czech Republic be completely funded from within the country, including my own support. We need to build a [local committee] and a funding base. There’s a lot of work ahead of us.