Twenty Years of the Bible School in Serbia…

This is a year of celebration in Serbia as the Bible School heads towards its twentieth year…

Bible School beginnings in 1996

It was autumn 1996 that the first group of students arrived to begin their studies in the village of Backi Petrovac in the north of Serbia.

With the wars that had marked the early part of that decade only just coming to an end, a number of those first students had come to know Jesus through the humanitarian work that we had been involved with since 1991. Time after time we had arrived in “Yugoslavia” with coaches and trucks loaded with supplies that had been lovingly prepared by friends across the UK. Every time that we shared these gifts in refugee camps or in sport stadiums we carefully shared the Message of a God who loves us and has come to us in the person of Jesus to rescue broken humanity through His death and resurrection…

Some of you reading this bulletin were involved right back in those earliest days as you prayed, prepared aid and even travelled with us.

Image below: arriving at a refugee centre with an Oak Hall coach. 

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A Year of Study through the whole Bible

igorThrough that first year of studies, we explored through the whole Bible with around thirty different Bible teachers who gave their time to serve with us. Each week, the students headed to the refugee camps to continue to share the message of Jesus with those there… our lives were shared together as we lived in community.

Graduates Serving across the Region

As those students graduated, many of them headed to new locations to plant churches and launch other initiatives that brought a great and positive impact to the country and shared the Message of Jesus Christ still further. It was clear that it was right to run a second year of the Bible School and so the new year was launched…

As well as visiting refugee camps, we also travelled across the region to stand with – serve alongside – those students who had studied through the first year… and so the work gathered momentum year after year.

Image below: a children's camp organised by graduates Dragan and Danijela. 

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A New Centre for the Bible School in Belgrade

It was soon clear that although the welcoming, small northern village of Backi Petrovac was a perfect cradle for the beginning of the Bible School that, ideally, we should seek a base in the capital of the country. After years of prayer, research and preparation, God wonderfully provided the amazing building on the edge of Belgrade that is now our centre.

In 2003, after a summer of repairs and renovations carried out by graduates and team of the Bible School, the ninth generation of students began their studies in the “new” building Belgrade. This has proved to be an ideal base for the work as it grows year on year and now the twentieth generation of students approach their graduation.

Image below: students outside the Belgrade Bible School Building. 

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The work continue to grow in this Twentieth Year

With former students serving in Bosnia and Hercegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Croatia and Serbia, it is amazing to see how God is building His Church across the region as we reach this twentieth year.

We will continue to send stories of the graduates as this year of celebration continues…

Thank you so much for your prayerful partnership!

“For such a time as this” – graduates on the front-lines of serving refugees from Syria

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With refugees from Syria moving through Macedonia and Serbia, graduates of the Bible School are involved in serving these vulnerable people. Dragan Manev is mobilising teams in Macedonia along with the Agape churches. Together they are providing shelter, food, hygiene packs and the scriptures in Arabic. Darko Adamek in Serbia is also mobilising teams in a similar way.

We are sending some financial support out to these projects. If you would like to be involved, please pray – there are also details here of how you can give to support if you would like to.

For years we have prayed for these countries that are less accessible for the Gospel and now they are coming to us…

A New Church Building in Banja Luka opened this Weekend

This weekend, after seventeen years of serving in the city, Sinisa and Olja led the opening of the new church building in Banja Luka.

Having heard about Jesus Christ during the wars that tore up Yugoslavia, Sinisa studied at the Bible School with Olja in 1996-1997 and then moved to the capital of Republika Srpska – the northern part of Bosnia – to plant this church.

There have been many challenges as well as great joys. The church is growing and their prayer is that this building will be a tool that will be used to reach many others with the Message of Jesus in this key city.

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News from the Oak Hall Expedition through the Balkans…

This week, an intrepid team are traveling from Budapest in Hungary, through Serbia and Montenegro, to Croatia – a journey of around 1000kms…

On our journey we are visiting a number of graduates of the Bible School in Belgrade. With well over 300 graduates serving across the region, there are many points at which we could make our stops!

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After a night tour of majestic Budapest and a then a good sleep, we rode a train south out of Hungary and into the North of Serbia. Eight hours of slowly transforming scenery, brought us to cross the Sava River and enter Serbia’s capital, Belgrade: home of the Belgrade Bible School.

This morning, we set off for the city centre, and took a boat down the Sava and into the mighty Danube River.

Dragan and Danijela studied at the Bible School and have been working among their own Romany people ever since. The highlight of the day was our visit to a Romany community with whom they work. Close to the centre of the city and surrounded by villas, this community live in a shanty-type settlement made from throw-away items from across the city.

This group of people, unnoticed or ignored by most in the city, have experienced a secret revolution since they began to hear from Dragan and Danijela about the God who has come in the person of Jesus Christ.

We heard some of these people’s amazing stories of how God has reached into their lives to bring them into relationship with Himself.

Danijel explained how 6 years ago, on an Oak Hall visit like ours today, he had the Message of God’s Love for the first time… Dragan and Danijela have supported him since and he is now one of the leaders of the Christ-following community here.

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With time to talk, play football and share more stories together, the afternoon has been a wonderful one.

Stopping at the Orthodox Cathedral and Parliament building on the way home, we returned to the Bible School this evening for an evening meal and our third Bible study before retiring for the night…

We hope to post more news shortly…

Thank you for praying on for the work of the Bible School and this journey through the Balkans.

Massive flooding in Serbia and Bosnia

Over the last few days there has been massive flooding in Serbia and Bosnia.

Some have been killed and thousands have had to leave their homes. Graduates, students, former Bible School team, their friends and churches have also been heavily impacted by the floods.

Sinisa in northern Bosnia explained yesterday, “It is a catastrophe here. I am in a village near Banja Luka helping with the clean up.”

Sladjan, leading the Bible School said today, “This is a tragedy on the scale of the aftermath of a war – may our people seek after God at this terrible time…”

Kreso in central Serbia said today, “The ground floor of our home has been under 1.5m of water. The water is receding to leave everything caked in mud. Many of our neighbours are in great difficulty…”

Sasko and Ira explained, “We would like to… provide the families with the basic things that will help them go back to normal life again, but even more importantly, our hope is to continue visiting these families and share the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ with them.”

We are going to prepare a fund to send to those helping those caught up in the floods in Serbia and Bosnia.  As is our usual practice, all of the gifts that we receive will go in their entirety out to the Balkans to be used  by those on the front-lines.

We will divide any gifts received between the following groups to use in relief work:

  • BANJA LUKA (Northern Bosnia) – Sinisa and Olja – Banja Luka Christian Fellowship
  • SARAJEVO (Central Bosnia) – Slavko – Evangelical Churches of BiH
  • HUB (Belgrade – connected across the region) – Sladjan and Jaroslava and the Bible School team
  • BELGRADE (Serbia Capital) – Sasko and Ira – International Church, Belgrade
  • BELGRADE (with interest across the rest of the country) – Dane & Ondrej – Baptist Union of Serbia
  • NOVI SAD (Northern Serbia) – Danny and Vera – Novi Sad Christian Fellowship

Please pray on for those caught up in these floods and for all of those seeking to serve their neighbours and point to the Lord Jesus.

– Andy and Faye Mayo

www.OakHall.org.uk

Please use this link to reach details of how to give.  Please reference your gift, “flooding”.

YA68 – the 68th Oak Hall journey to the Balkans

The 68th Oak Hall journey to the Balkans is currently underway… Like no other Oak Hall journey yet, we are visiting four capital cities in three different countries.

SATURDAY 24th Aug
On Saturday we flew to Zagreb and took a coach south across the border to Bosnia – here we are staying in the capital of “Republika Srpska” – Banja Luka.

SUNDAY

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Meeting with Banja Luka church.

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Meeting Mile…

MONDAY
After a morning in the city we take the train south…

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Waiting for the 1:35 train…

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South towards Sarajevo…

TUESDAY

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High above Sarajevo.

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In a few hours we leave to drive through the mountains towards Pale, Visegrad and over the border towards Ruma and Belgrade…

Banja Luka Church visiting Kosovo

Sinisa and the team from Banja Luka, Bosnia write…

Visiting Kosovo“VISITING KOSOVO In April a number of us visited Kosovo. It was an amazing experience, because that is the place where in 1389 the battle of Kosovo happened and where Christians were fighting against the Ottoman Empire (Turks).

“Nowadays Kosovo is still not safe as Serbs and Albanians (Muslim) fight over the country. The bombing of Serbia in 1999 was over Kosovo. Kosovo although claiming independence from Serbia, is not recognized by some countries and Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of them.

“It wasn’t a pleasant feeling to go there and we were feeling a little bit uncomfortable but when we got there God changed our feelings completely. The best thing was that our brothers from Albania who become Christians took us to the place where the battle of Kosovo happened and in that group there were Serbs, Muslim, Albanian’s, Croat and Finns, but as Christians we prayed for Kosovo, for Muslims, for Serbs and for reconciliation in this region.

“Only God could put us together and give us His love for each other. God is good.”

There is much more news from Sinisa and the team click this link to read on – Christian Fellowship Newsletter May 2013