Article on the history of the Czech
August 2010, Rev. Dr. theol. Dölf Weder
February 1991 - Miracles Needed
It was in the cold February of 1991, when I was
sitting in a board room under the roof of a huge building at Na Porici
12 in Prague, seat of the national Czechoslovak Sports Alliance. With me were Dr. Lubor Drapal
and some other persons in advanced age, plus Dieter Reitzner from the
Austrian YMCA. They told me that they recently had re-founded their YMCA
and that I should support its development – and help them to get back
the building we were sitting in, plus quite a number of other camps and
houses, as these used to be YMCA centers, expropriated under communist
rule after World War II.
I felt helpless. Here I was, the new European Secretary General,
representing YMCA Europe with a small office in St. Gallen, Switzerland,
having one administrative secretary and hardly enough money to even
finance our own operation. And Czechoslovakia was only one of the
countries the European Alliance had totally unexpectedly become
responsible for after November 1989. There were the Baltic States,
Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria – and later Armenia, Russia, Ukraine,
Belarus…, all facing similar challenges. Central and Eastern Europe was
changing fast and dramatically, and we, totally unprepared, were called
to act. Miracles were needed.
1998, same building.
Together with the Czech National YMCA
Secretary, I inaugurated the offices of the new seat of YMCA Europe at
Na Porici 12, moved to here from St. Gallen, Switzerland. For one year, I now had my
own office in this building, renovated and owned by the Czech YMCA. The
movement had become a flourishing youth organization step by step. Can
you imagine my feelings? It was nothing less than a miracle and God’s
rich blessings that through the dedicated work of the Czech YMCA leaders,
and with the support of so many friends in Europe, North America and the
whole World, such development had become possible.
I meet the new Czech National General Secretary,
Michael Erdinger. I recognize in him the once small and shy boy Miki
whom I had encountered in the mid 90s playing keyboard in a small village in
the Czech countryside. We helped them to establish a Ten Sing group and
I become aware once more: this miracle is not about the
development of buildings and organizations only; it’s first and foremost
about the development of people.
YMCA is about young people and their
growth, both in body, mind and spirit. It is so exciting and such a
reason for gratefulness to have been and to be part of God’s great plan
with us human beings – and with the Czech YMCA!
Dölf Weder, Rev. Dr. theol.
Secretary General YMCA Europe 1990-1999
St. Gallen, 26th August 2010