President Nelson honors Czech couple in World Freedom Day social media post

In honor of World Freedom Day, President Russell M. Nelson posted on social media about a couple who provided leadership and support to Latter-day Saints in Czechoslovakia — known today as the Czech Republic and Slovakia — despite great personal risk and sacrifice.

“As I think about Olga and Jirí Snederfler,” he wrote on Tuesday, Nov. 9, “I am reminded that much of the bravery in the world goes largely unseen and that the Lord often uses the unlikely to accomplish the impossible.”

World Freedom Day commemorates the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of communist rule in Central and Eastern Europe. “It is a day to remember the bravery of valiant men and women who fought, and continue to fight, for freedom throughout the world,” President Nelson wrote.

President Nelson wrote that he was assigned to help the Church gain official recognition in Czechoslovakia. With the help of the Snederflers as Czech citizens, they were able to secure meetings with government officials and petition for recognition so Latter-day Saints in that country could worship openly, instead of in secret.

“I will never forget one pivotal meeting when Josef Hromadka, the new deputy prime minister of the Republic of Czechoslovakia, promised us that this recognition would come,” the Prophet recalled.

“That same day, we traveled to Mount Karlstein, where Elder John A. Widtsoe had dedicated the country for the preaching of the gospel on July 24, 1929. There, I offered a prayer of gratitude for the Lord’s intervention on behalf of the Saints in Czechoslovakia.”

Gaining official recognition in Czechoslovakia would not have been possible, President Nelson wrote, without the the Snederflers’ courage and faith to follow the Savior.

The Church was granted recognition in Czechoslovakia in 1990. The nation of Czechoslovakia was dissolved in 1993, and the Czech Republic and Slovakia took its place.

The Prague Czech Republic Stake — the first stake in the country — was created on May 15, 2016, by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, then a member of the First Presidency.

Today the Czech Republic is home to some 2,600 Latter-day Saints in 12 congregations, according to the Church’s Newsroom. About 300 members reside in Slovakia.