Let me begin by introducing myself. I first encountered YWAM in the late 1990’s, when I was still a university student. There were a couple of YWAM workers at our church, and their ministries and activities inspired me, leading me to become a volunteer with YWAM soon afterwards. I traveled with them to refugee camps, in the Czech Republic where we helped asylum seekers who had come from all over the world. I also participated with international teams in the project “Reconciliation Walk” and helped with the first DTS, which took place in Pilsen at the beginning of the New Millennium. 

That experience led to me deciding to do my own DTS, with the lecture phase in Germany and outreach in the Philippines in 2003. This brought to my life a fresh wind of vision to serve people groups and nations, especially in the context of education. I continued lecturing at schools under the umbrella of another international NGO, ACET Czech Republic, which enabled me to meet young people both in my country as well as abroad. Right after I completed the DTS, full of great ideas, I became a member of the YWAM Pilsen team. I started to staff some interesting projects, such as preparation for a new DTS, YWAM Central Europe gathering, Refugee camp visits and developing youth programs at schools. Things looked bright…

God Works through Education for His Glory

It was not quite that simple. I was unable to raise sufficient funds from supporters, and it became clear quickly that I would be unable to live as a full time YWAM staff living off of support. This led to me looking for a job, at first part time and in the end full time, which meant I had to leave my YWAM ministry. What seemed to be unfair at the beginning, turned into a new adventure, which I could not have foreseen. 7 years after my graduation at the University of West Bohemia, I returned there as a teaching assistant of regional geography. Besides teaching, I started my PhD studies focused on regional geography and regional planning at the Masaryk University in Brno. My career turned from being full time YWAM staff into a full-time teaching and research assistant, with academia being my next destiny.

Education is a powerful tool to shape a personality as well as society. Education, if it is cultivated in an environment of freedom of speech, freedom of research and an open-minded atmosphere, can truly release full human potential. It is obvious, that if the society is well educated, it is much less vulnerable to populism, fake news, and manipulation. Good education often goes hand in hand with well-being, health, and good governance. Education is a key pillar for both global as well as regional and local development.

Education opens the door for collaboration across the borders of states and continents.

I feel honored to contribute to that process. It is not always painless, but it is also rewarding and encouraging to see the stories of the alumni, how they accomplished great professional achievements, and recall their small beginnings in our classrooms and seminar halls.

I often pray for the environment I work in, for colleagues I work with as well as for students I lecture to. I am convinced, that I can be a tool of blessings for those I interact with. It is a great adventure, which started many years ago with something that could have been perceived as a failure. I believe that it was Jesus who planned it and He has been with me every single day in this process, even though I did not realize and notice it then. It makes me humble and full of expectation for what comes next.

Jiri Preis,

University of West Bohemia, Pilsen, Czech Republic

Vice dean for Internationalisation and Foreign Affairs at Faculty of Economics

Head of Centre for International Activities

Member of Department of Geography and the Centre for the Research of Regional Development

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