Staring down at the Manhattan panorama from the 86th floor of the Empire State Building, Petr Malec definitely wasn’t feeling on top of the world.
“I remember earlier standing in a gallery looking at a beautiful painting, and I had a tear running down my cheek, and this little lady stood next to me,” the native of the Czech Republic says of that day in 2015. “She must have thought, ‘Oh, this man is so moved by the art.’ No, I was not moved – I was suicidal! So by the time I got to the 86th floor, I really felt like jumping off that building.”
Malec had been a Christian for many years, even serving for 10 years as a missionary, and his professional life was doing well. But he felt out of sync with his own country, and his marriage and relationship with God were on the rocks. He gave his business to his wife after they were divorced, and he set out for Silicon Valley, California, where he intended to build a successful new tech company.
It was during a stopover in New York that he realized how thoroughly miserable he was. The night following that watershed moment on the Empire State Building, he prayed and fully recommitted his life to Jesus Christ. He felt the Lord leading him to give up his Silicon Valley plans, return to the Czech Republic and attend a camp where Christians teach English and share their faith with young people. Having graduated from college in Ireland, Malec is fluent in English, but he took his son to participate in the program.
Hope from an unexpected source
At the camp he met a doctor from Alaska who talked about a Bible study that he had found helpful called Every Man A Warrior, written by TWR Men’s Ministry director Lonnie Berger. The doctor invited Malec to work through the three-book study with him over Skype.
“To be quite honest with you, I didn't have very high hopes,” Malec recalls. “I had done a hundred Bible studies and had taught a hundred Bible studies, right? So I know this stuff. But that was completely wrong. After I started doing quiet times and learning verses by heart, this depression, this darkness just left me, and I started feeling God's love.”
Determined to understand why Every Man A Warrior was so effective in his life, Malec extensively researched discipleship programs. He finally found his answer in 2 Peter – “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ” – and in the work of the late Dallas Willard, a Christian philosopher who wrote, “Spiritual disciplines are a way to put ourselves in a place to be taught by God's grace.”
“The grace comes from God, but knowledge, I’ve got to do something about,” he said. “No training course can change anybody. Only God can do that. But what Every Man A Warrior does incredibly well is help men put themselves in and then stay in those places where they can be taught and transformed by God's grace.”
Perhaps EMAW, as the men’s discipleship curriculum is affectionately called among TWR staff, could help revitalize a spiritually moribund Czech Republic, Malec thought. He jokes that there may be fewer practicing Protestants in the whole country than in the Vatican! He began translating the EMAW books and then got in touch with Lonnie Berger, who generously gave him permission to move ahead with the content.
Spending quality quiet time with the Lord
Since the first training session of seven volunteers in February 2017, EMAW in the Czech Republic has multiplied into over 100 groups. Believing that theology and technology should work hand in hand, Malec has facilitated the growth with a website and a YouTube channel featuring Berger and other leaders and pastors teaching and discussing discipleship.
Today, Berger has asked Malec to serve as the ministry’s international coach, helping provide guidance to startup groups in places like Kenya, the Philippines, Brazil, Australia and Japan. His enthusiasm for the mission is infectious. And he even feels compensated for having given up his Silicon Valley dreams: God provided the opportunity for him to design and lead the development of a quiet-time app now being used by thousands of people on six continents.
“If you want to have a relationship with someone and you want to improve that relationship, you have to spend time with him or her,” he said. “So what we are teaching men is how to spend quality time with the Lord. That's it. It's very practical. It's also about men's problems and sex and money and work and raising children and marriage and so on. It's very, very practical. It's not high theology because – this may shock you – but most men are not interested in high theology.”
Want to Help?
May we ask you to pray about it, and if the Lord leads you to be a part of this important outreach to men in the U.S. and around the world, let us know about it here. Also, to say thanks if you decide to help, we'll send you a free copy of the first volume in the series!
Photo: Lonnie Berger, far left, and Petr Malec, third from left, meet with other members of the Every Man A Warrior team in Prague.