The Czechoslovakian Mission was opened on 24 July 1929, after years of prayers and letters by a woman and her two daughters who had joined the Church elsewhere and returned to Prague (theirs is a marvelous story; I may blog it soon, with pictures). The missionaries’ first task was to learn Czech, a difficult and slow process for most of the first eight elders. Even before they could speak with their contacts, though, they were distributing leaflets with the Articles of Faith on one side, the text below on the other side, with an invitation to attend meetings at a given address.
Presumably the leaflet was written in grammatical Czech, either with the help of the three local members or some hired translator. Let’s assume language was no barrier, so that the following message came through clearly and without reason to scoff at the education or social status of the missionaries.
INVESTIGATION WILL REVEAL
That the young man who presented this leaflet has a message of vital interest to the whole world. This message is presented to the people of this country who love liberty, righteousness, and personal freedom of thought and action, with the assurance that it will receive due consideration.
That he is giving two to three years of his life without pecuniary compensation to the teaching of this message, because he knows that it is a priceless gift that will enrich human life beyond measure; and because he desires to help mankind.
That he is a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes called the “Mormon” Church, and that he is affording you the opportunity of hearing its doctrines.
That this Church was organized humbly through revelation from God one hundred years ago, but that it has grown to occupy a position of great prominence in the world. It has built cities and conquered deserts and brought contentment to its many members in all parts of the world. The Church has often chosen heavy sacrifices in order that its members might exercise, unmolested, liberty and personal freedom of thought.
That this Church has a practical as well as a spiritual philosophy of life, which will save the body as well as the soul, and make accessible to mankind the comforts of life, and a sweetness and an enrichment of body, mind and soul.
That upon this Church has been placed the divine obligation of presenting to every person the opportunity of enjoying the possibilities of the eternal plan of life. Therefore it has in the world, to-day, two thousand five hundred young men, such as the one who presented this leaflet, who are bearing this message of life to all peoples, for everyone must have the opportunity of hearing it.
That the force which moves this people to great accomplishments, and stirs the hearts of these young men to proclaim their message to all the world, is the gospel of Jesus Christ as taught by Him during his life, and restored in this day through the instrumentality of Joseph Smith, the Prophet. These people accept Christ’s doctrines without change and live them.
That the articles on the other side summarize briefly the doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
(“The First Czech Tract,” Millennial Star, 31 October 1929, 700-701)
A second tract was ready for distribution a month later which went into much greater doctrinal detail. Its sections were headed:
The Importance of Good Health
The Higher Socialism
In Union There is Strength
Man Cannot Be Saved in Ignorance
The Way to Freedom
“Man Does Not Live by Bread Alone”
The Restoration of the Gospel
The Test of Truth
So far as I can tell, this second leaflet is standard Gospel fare, suitable for use with any people in any language, with the exceptions of an economic argument that seems aimed at a Europe still suffering the after-effects of World War I; and two sections tailored to appeal directly to Czech pride:
The moral well-being of a man must be a distinct concern of the Church. The words of President Masaryk are the doctrine of true Christianity: “Our way to freedom is education and morality.” The practice of the principles taught by the ten commandments and the beatitudes, and obedience to just human laws, are expected of every member of the Church of Christ.
The proof of truth is not in age or numbers or fame, but in its results. Radio is new, but, since it is sound science, it is of world service; Komensky was once alone in his educational theories, but they were founded in truth and now the whole educational world is following him; the Czech nation was long in bondage, but its idealism and high principles have enabled it in a few years to set an example in wise government which is the admiration of the world. Radio, Komensky and the Czech nation are known “by their fruits.”
(“Another Tract for the Czechs,” Millennial Star, 28 November 1920, 761-765)
I have posted the full text of the second tract where its length won’t intimidate those who prefer the usual length blog post; if you read it, please return here to comment.
So, if this were your first introduction to the Gospel as taught by the Mormon elders, how do you suppose you would respond?