From Powerlifting World Champion to Committed Adventist

The straight-out-of-the-movies conversion story of Czech medalist Daniel Dvořák.

Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review
From Powerlifting World Champion to Committed Adventist
Daniel Dvořák, serving as a volunteer during evangelistic meetings in Prague in May. [Photo: Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review]

Daniel Dvořák was not at peace. As a two-time powerlifting world champion, two-time European champion, and eleven-time Czech champ, his dreams had come true. He had traveled the world to compete … and win. He was a well-known and respected figure in the world of competitive powerlifting.

And yet, it was not enough.

“I had fame, money, sponsors, and women,” he shares nine years later. “But there was no peace inside of me.”

He felt unhappy and restless, always searching for something he lacked.

Advice From a Priest

Dvořák remembers a few specific days back in 2014 as if they were yesterday. They had been especially unnerving for him. Two days before, he had met a shaman who told him details about his past that — he thought — nobody else could know. He was dumbfounded! Could this be the truth he had been searching for?

Then, a day later, Dvořák discussed the “revelation” he had received with a Catholic priest. Isn’t that a miracle that proves there’s a God, after all? he asked the priest.

“Be careful,” the priest told him. “Not every miracle comes from God. There are miracles that come from the enemy.”

Dvořák was so confused! How could he ever get to know what was true from what was false?

A Life-Changing Dog Walk

Engrossed in his thoughts, he decided to take his dog for a walk. When he arrived at a nearby park, he saw another man also walking his dog. They began to chat.

“What do you do for a living?” Dvořák asked the man.

“I am a pastor,” he answered.

Dvořák decided he would tell him about his recent experience with the shaman and the Catholic priest in order to have a third opinion about his out-of-this-world experience.

“The Catholic priest is right,” the pastor told him. “Not every revelation or miracle comes from the God of the Bible.”

“What can I do if I am approached again by this shaman?” Dvořák asked him.

“You just pray,” the pastor told him. “As soon as she tries to ‘reveal’ your past, present, or future, start praying. Everything will be fine.”

Before saying goodbye, Seventh-day Adventist pastor Miroslav Starý gave Dvořák his contact information.

“It’s strange,” the pastor told him. “I usually walk in a different direction. I never take the dog for a walk to this park. I am not sure why I came this way today.”

The Power of Prayer

The following day, Dvořák was meeting with a group interested in competitive sports nutrition supplements. When he arrived, he saw the shaman was also part of the group. She approached him again, wishing to engage and share more “revelations” about his life and his future.

Following the Adventist pastor’s advice, Dvořák began to pray in his mind to the best of his abilities. Suddenly, the shaman’s face grimaced, as if she were in pain. She began to yell insults at Dvořák and, after a few seconds, went away, never to bother him again.

“The pastor was right,” Dvořák thought. “I’m going to give him a call.”

A Faithful Student

Pastor Starý was very pleased to hear that Dvořák wanted to study the Bible. But Starý was afraid. He knew Dvořák had a reputation as a hot-tempered, quarrelsome star. The pastor thought that he wouldn’t feel safe inviting Dvořák to his home. They decided to meet at a local pizza joint.

“And so, there we were,” Dvořák recalls with a smile almost nine years later. “Surrounded by buddies eating pizza and drinking beer, with an open Bible, studying prophecy.”

It took time and effort, but little by little, Dvořák became to accept the truths Starý was sharing from the Bible with him. His life also began to be transformed by the power of God’s Word.

“Sports people knew me as a crazy, arrogant person,” he shares. “I was a drinker and a smoker. But now they began to notice a difference. ‘You were wild, but you have changed,’ they would tell me.”

A Gift From God

After many months of studying the Bible, the day arrived when Dvořák decided to give a public testimony about his faith through baptism.

The Adventist churches in Prague had organized a joint baptismal ceremony with people from several congregations who were ready for baptism. That day, Dvořák met a young black woman from another church who was also among the baptized. Senwelo had grown up in another Christian denomination in Botswana and learned about the Adventist message while studying in Prague.

It was their first encounter, but not the last. They became friends and then began dating. Eventually, they got married. As of June 2023, they are about to become new parents.

“God has been so good to me,” Dvořák says. “He gave me a good wife and a new family. This church is my family.”

A Powerful Testimony

As a new church member, Dvořák couldn’t believe the newfound peace he felt. But very soon, he understood that the good news was something to be shared. He began in the place where he felt most comfortable: the gym where he worked as a trainer.

Dvořák began to seek opportunities to share his faith. He had the most powerful presentation — his own life story.

“You were the worst,” a colleague once told him. “If you could change, maybe there’s also a chance for me.”

One day, another colleague in the gym accepted to discuss Bible truth with Dvořák.

“We studied the Bible for two hours, and ended up crying,” Dvořák remembers.

Dvořák’s testimony paid off, as other trainers in the gym eventually requested Bible studies and became church members.

“Besides me, there are two Adventist coaches in the gym,” Dvořák shares. “And soon we might have a third one.”

One of them is Bára Trundová, former Czech champion of body fitness. During the evangelistic meetings in Prague in May, Trundová was one of the committed deaconesses at the meetings’ venue.

Touring Witnesses

The group attend the small but growing Praha Žižkov Seventh-day Adventist Church, still pastored by Starý.

“Pastor Starý is just what we need,” Dvořák says. “He is firm, but very patient with us. We are not sheep, but God keeps working in us.”

Dvořák, Trundová, and gym trainer René Nadrchal, also a church member, regularly visit Adventist congregations around the country to retell their life stories of transformation.

“All of us came from atheist families,” Dvořák shares. “Now our job is to use our testimony to wake up other church members who may be sleeping. And to bring more people to Jesus.”

Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review