By Don Liesemer
Josef Marha, Tomas Kapusta and Josef Solc, each with a unique journey to faith, participated in HMI’s 2013 hockey camps.
Josef Solc instructed on ice at the Raleigh, North Carolina Camp. The former seminary professor at South Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary was a member of the prestigious Czechoslovakian National Hockey team in the 1960’s and a professional tennis player before escaping the former Soviet East Block country. Josef who came to faith in Christ at young age with his family, explains how God worked in his life:
“I decided to study at a seminary in Prague, but the communist government told me I was more beneficial for their society if I continued playing professional ice hockey rather than becoming a pastor. However, God honored my desire to study for ministry and used the Russian invasion of 1968 to reveal His plan to me. During the invasion, I was forced to think of life and death. I pictured myself standing before God with empty hands. I thought I loved God, but my love for Him did not produce enough results. So I asked for forgiveness and recommitted my life to Jesus Christ. God answered my prayer and led me out of my native country to begin my study for ministry.”
Tomas Kapusta’s story is also one of intrigue as he too had to slip away from communist dominated Czechoslovakian authorities to pursue his career in North America. Drafted by The Edmonton Oilers his journey to faith intensified once arriving in Canada. He quickly became extremely homesick for his family and country and found himself begging his American Hockey League coaches in his broken English: “Send me home: yesterday, today and tomorrow...I want to go home.” He went on to tell the young Czech stars at the HMI camp near Prague how a miracles happened in his life. After each time he plead to be sent home the Lord would bring someone into his life that would cause him to think more seriously about God and his love and care for his life. Each time he was drawn closer to Jesus. One of those encounters involved Josef Solc’s brother who was pasturing in a church near Toronto who was connected to the family of former pro hockey player, Chuck Luksa. Tomas responded to HMI’s free gift Christmas offer of a Bible and connected with people at HMI. Through that connection he had a vision for the camp in Czech and for fifteen years has provided leadership in the camp. His stirring testimony and masterful on ice coaching has caused many Czech young people to consider the great love of God and to surrender their lives to Him. He is now the head instructor for the Anaheim Wild Cats hockey association. He and Margita and their two children reside in Southern California.
Josef Marha’s experienced the fulfilment of his dream to play in the NHL. Drafted by the Quebec Nordiques he moved with the team to Colorado in 1995. He was subsequently traded to Anaheim where he encountered a Christian hockey player and teammate, Stu Grimson. Stu had a huge influence...He was intrigued that someone could be a Christian hockey player...but as he began to think and take a closer look he was given a copy of the Jesus tape. This touched his life and turned his heart to Christ. His career took him to Chicago and to the AHL and then on to Davos, Switzerland where he had twelve very successful seasons winning 4 championships. Joe has instructed and provided leadership in our Czech camps for many years. He and his wife Nika with their two children have moved back to the Czech Republic where he will play for HC Pardubice!