Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
1 John 3,16

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The missionary of my surrounding

Jan Barborka

When I´m trying to live with Jesus the present moment of every day, everything is easier.The odds are in my favour because I know the language, culture and history of the Czech nation.I can become the missionary of love no matter where I am. The missionary of my surrounding


My name is John Barborka and I was born in Jilemnice v Podkrkonoší on December 5, 1980. Doctors drew me out with forceps in the maternity hospital and so it´s a small miracle that I escaped unscathed from these “forceps“.When I was seven, my parents, my two siblings and I moved to the town Nová Paka that is situated in Podkrkonoší as well.I completed the basic and secondary education there.Our family became larger and there were six of us, that is, three boys and three girls. My mum had been going out to work since the time I was born until now because no sooner had one maternity leave ended than she was on another one.Naturally, my father had to work hard to support such a large family.We don´t care much about the fact that we´ve been driving Trabant up to this day.

I started acting as an altar boy when I was eight and couldn´t find out how come that my younger friend could serve since six.I sent my Daddy to ask parish priest about it.My dad explained to me that it might have been because of the fact that my friend´s older brother also served and taught him everything but as I had no older brother I had to wait.Ever since I was a child I´ve liked all kinds of sports except soccer.I´m trying to learn it at the seminary so as not to break ranks.I prefer water sports and skiing.I also liked to go to the scout camps.

First of all, at the secondary school I got a training in confectionery but then, I made friends with notorious classmate Zdeněk who had offered me marihuana for the first time.Since then, I´ve gone from bad to worse.At school my teachers told me:“Johnny,put your hand to the plough“but I just laughed at them.It was simply all the same to me even the results at sports that I loved.I wanted to be Zdeněk´s friend to such an extent that I went to fetch hypodermic syringes from the pharmacist´s.

Almost a tragedy happened soon.Once at school Zdeněk sent me a crumpled piece of paper under the desk that had said:“We were at the disco and a bloke taught us to shoot pervitin.Later on, we started shooting it on our own and as we needed money for the new dose we stole something.Now the cops are after us and I don´t know what to do I think I´ll kill myself“.I was shocked.That day we were going to the diocesis centre of youth Space in Orlické mountains.I felt in my heart that I should share my experience with young people that were staying there at that time.The local priest gave me the floor during the programme and I told them what had occured.Then, I went to my room where I´d fallen asleep and Jesus struck me with his love like St.Paul.My heart started pounding, my pulse doubled and tears of compassion over my present life ran down from my eyes.
I was then 17 and I kept going and saying that everything I´d done so far was pointless.I encountered Christ and couldn´t keep this to myself.I began sharing this joy with others but they didn´t follow me, didn´t understand me and didn´t know what´d happened to me in my life.Labouring under a misapprehension I wanted to become a missionary in Africa.This decision lasted two years but I really meant bussiness – that´s why I put my name down for the spiritual retreat that was run by the newly-appointed head of the Pope´s missionary work P.Jiří Šlégr.At the introduction I told him I wanted to be a missionary and he answered me that it was possible.In a tete-tete he explained to me that a missionary is usually a religious person as well as a priest.He went on saying that the priests are studying at the seminary and theological faculty in the Czech republic.
So, I went to see our parish priest and told him that I´d like to study at the seminary.However, it was only a means gor me to becoming a full-fledged missionary.
In the zero year of seminary for the future theology students I was considered to be a enthusiastic convert whose zeal for spreading the gospel wouldn´t last long.Nobody took notice of me and so I didn´t took notice of them either.And so, for instance, I used to go to the barracks in Litoměřice, stop to have a bit of chat with soldiers or see them to the town center and talk to them about God.Many of them admitted being baptized but then they stopped going to the church.
In Prague – I´d already been at the seminary – I met an eighty-year-old Premonstrate to whom I opened my heart.I told him that I wanted to become a missionary in Africa.He answered me:“Man, don´t be silly.The missions are right here because there are 90% of atheists“.I took it to heart and turned my attention to the Czech Republic ( I believe I´ll do it with the same fervour ).I said to myself that the odds are in my favour because I know the language, culture and history of the Czech nation.Now it´s only necessary to study theology and gain some experience – that´s it.
Nowdays I´m in the fourth year and I can that it´s not so easy as I´d expected.There are moments when I´d scramble in bed and hide under the eiderdown doing and seeing nothing.But when I´m trying to live the present moment of every day with Jesus everything is easier.The spirituality of the movement Focolare helps me a lot because it stresses the Jesus´commandment of love and the fact that we should be able to give life for our brethrens.And so, I can become the missionary of love no matter where I am.

    Jan Barborka



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