Eva Guldanová remembers standing on the uneven cobblestones of the Bratislava old town square on a cold night of November 1989, her ears filled with the jubilant rattle of thousands of keys.
The people of Czechoslovakia were ringing in their freedom from communist rule.
“I was only 12 by then, and I didn’t really understand what it was all about,” she says. “But I knew a change was coming, and something very important was happening.”
Soon Eva would be baptized, a formerly subversive and dangerous act in her country. And by the end of her high school years she felt the first yearnings to go deeper into her fledgling faith.
Her parents encouraged her to pursue physics in her university studies, but Eva wondered if she might be hearing a different call.
“(I decided) that if I still felt the desire to devote my life to the service of the church, I would follow that call and go to seminary.”
Today Eva is a Ph.D. student in theology at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. She is the recipient of an ELCA International Leadership Development scholarship that offsets her tuition and housing expenses.
She plans to return home to serve her church as an ordained minister in a congregation. As a Lutheran who lives in a predominantly Roman Catholic country, Eva also has big dreams of a more ecumenical world. “I’d like to participate in ecumenical dialogues at both the national and international level.
This former child of communism is passionate about the beauty of diversity.
“For me, two things are central: courage and love. Courage to overcome fears, anxieties and boundaries deep within us; and love to see the beauty in the other.
“To see a human being created out of God’s love in every person requires humility and patient listening. And it needs a lot of prayer.”