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Righteous among the Nations – Pavel Chorvat recognized 44 years after his death [blog]



“Whosoever saves a single life, saves an entire universe” (Mishnah, Sanhedrin 4:5)

There was a day of celebration in Slovakia when five Slovaks last night (11 February 2014) received the recognition Righteous among the Nations from Israel. Two couples for their exceptional acts, and one Lutheran pastor, long gone, but not forgotten. Pavel Chorvat was recognized with commemorative citizenship in recognition of his actions saving at least three persons of Jewish background from certain death.

Born in 1905, he became a Lutheran priest after his theological studies in Bratislava and later served in Vrbovo, Zilina, Stara Tura and since 1935 in Slatina nad Bebravou.

During the WW2 he actively helped people who desired to move out of Slovakia, or out of the protectorate of Czech and Moravska, mostly toward Hungary. Since 1942, he was also helping Jews as the persecution and deportations took place. For the three documented cases he was providing false birth certificates and connections in other parts of the country, even school enrollments, so the kids could hide with false identities.

After the war he served more than two years in prison, since 1950, as he opposed the Communist rule. After the sentence he was forbidden to be a priest and had to retire. Pavel lived simply and in 1962 moved closer to his sister in Turcianske Teplice where he died in 1970.

No one really knows just how many people Pavel helped during his life of service, whether during the war or after it, during the Communist era, and this is, I think, not so important. For several of these he was an important man so they worked hard to make his name stand on the wall among other 24,000+ names of Righteous Gentiles. What caught my attention was that he is one among 28 Lutherans in addition to 19 of Confessing Church and other 99 Protestant Evangelicals who did not think of their own lives to help others. I was proud today to learn of Pavel Chorvat, a Lutheran pastor from Slovakia who was recognized as one of the Righteous Gentiles of this unrighteous world.

Righteous among the Nations is the title that Israel is bestowing on the non-Jews who risked their lives during the WW2 to save Jews. This title cannot be suggested by non-Jews and a decision is made after a meticulous study and high standard criteria is met, including testimonies from survivors and eyewitnesses, with the evaluation of the risk to the one who helped the victims.

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Our Lamb has Conquered: Let Us Follow Him – on the Moravian Church visit today [blog]

I was in Christiansfeld today, in central Jutland, Denmark, and there visited a Moravian church. It is an interesting story as I felt I entered another century and visited a true missionary society of brethren.

The Moravians are pietistic Lutherans, free congregations whose origins lie in the Herrnhuttian pietism and the Moravians of count Zinzendorf. In 18 century the Herrnhutters, skilled craftsmen and traders, founded Moravian towns in many countries, and became a missionary church.

So they came to Denmark in 1773 and founded the town of Christansfeld with the blessings and approval of the Danish king Christian VII. They purchased a land and drafted a plan of the future town. Two streets connected with the God’s Acre, a square with a fountain in the middle connecting two streets, and in front of the church. Houses for living were built, later a boarding school for girls, parsonage next to the church. The king granted them pardon of royal taxes, no military service, no need of membership of guilds, and free religious practice. Denmark needed skilled craftsmen and soon the business were opened: the hotel, a chandler’s shop, a dye works, a cigar factory, honey – cake bakery, a printer, book-binder, milliner and a rope maker… most of them still exist today and still belong to the Moravians.

Then I visited their sanctuary. It is the largest space in Denmark without supporting columns or walls – it can take up to 1,000 visitors. Painted in white, with simple wooden pews, and chandeliers with candles. It is an amazing testimony of 240 years.

This church today has more than 340 members and half of them still live in the same town. Moravians welcome visitors and have their services open to all.

Their motto is: Our Lamb has conquered: let us follow Him.Image

PS A photo of their graveyard shows unusual small tombstones. It was their practice to bury their dead standing facing east, from where Jesus is coming again. They wanted to be ready for this occasion!