Henry Novotny was born in 1846 in Czechoslovakia during a period when that country was thoroughly Roman Catholic. When he was still a youth, he attended a secret Protestant meeting and was so impressed that he began reading the forbidden Bible and other literature. When one in the little group died, his family didn’t want a Catholic funeral, so they asked Henry if he would say a few words, and he agreed. Shortly thereafter he told his friends, “I resolve that with God’s help I shall leave the Roman Catholic Church and become a Protestant.”
On this day in 1870 Henry Novotny entered seminary in Switzerland. From there he took his wife and two children to Edinburgh, Scotland for further studies, but then he got into trouble – he came to see Baptist doctrine. He returned to the Continent and was immersed by Charles Ondra, pastor of Europe’s largest Baptist church, in Lodz, Poland.
Novotny then moved to Bohemia where he began his Baptist ministry. Despite persecution, he preached seven times every Lord’s Day, baptizing in the frozen rivers, writing and publishing the truth, despite the law against it, and building churches. By the time of his death, he had helped to start more than 30 churches in cities across Bohemia, and there were God-called men, trained by Novotny leading most of those congregations.