Youth work in Niš

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A year ago we were looking for new activities for our youth, and we began to do music workshops. Until then, we didn’t actually have a youth group in our church, but a few church kids had just become teenagers, and we wanted to find a way of reaching as many young people as possible, so that’s how our music workshops started.

The music workshops that take place in our Church building offer young people a safe place where they are accepted, and where they can realize their value and discover their talents. Over the period of a few months we have been able to see a transformation in them – although they were self-conscious in the beginning, they now spend time together, encourage each other and work together on learning new music skills.

Through our program that takes place every Saturday for two hours, we have ice breaking activities, practical music lessons – singing and playing their chosen instrument – and also a discussion time on a theme that affects young people, offering a perspective based on Christian principles and God’s word. It’s a great opportunity to share our faith as it’s aimed at unchurched youth.

The young people from the workshop are invited to other church events, and about ten of them have already visited our Sunday meetings. Two of the older teenagers came along to church for about a month, after which one of them continued and has now become a Christian. He comes to other church meetings, wants to know more about God, prays with us … and still comes to the workshops. Another teenager, who used to call himself an atheist, came along to church to see what it was all about. He used to be very negative about Christianity, and yet he is now totally different towards us. He’s even started to have a positive influence on others at the workshop and has brought his girlfriend along.

From October 2013 until January of this year, the number of young people at the workshops has grown from 3 to 18 who come regularly, five of whom are Christians.

After a few months of regular workshops, we organize a concert – to show what we’ve learned, and for the group to get encouraged by their own performance. In the course of a year, we organized two major public appearances, and two smaller ones in our church building. We had a concert two weeks ago, as a crown action for the first part of the school year. We had about 50 guests who came to see us – parents, friends… The concert was a success and very well done! We had some good conversations with parents. Some of them were very happy that their child is doing an activity within the church, since that for them is a guarantee of good company and safety. We are now expecting to have new members from among those who were guests at the concert.

We are very encouraged by these results. We believe that we are on a good way, and that we will reach many more young people through this program. Pray with us that they become Christians while they are in their youth.

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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A Wonderful 19th Generation of Students at the HUB Bible School…

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It is already one month into term at the Bible School in Belgrade and there is a bumper group of students studying during this nineteenth year!

With the “practical” second year course running as well as the “core” first year course, there are 33 students…  Each one is at the Bible School because they want to prepare to more effectively share the Message of Jesus Christ with those around them.

Thank you for praying as this term continues!

Summer 2014

This year we organised our second children’s summer camp. Once again God provided the resources and we were able to spend 7 days in the countryside, enjoying friendship, having fun and learning from the bible.

There were 25 children, of whom 10 were from families who don’t come to church. For some it was their first experience of this kind. The theme of the camp was courage and it was based on the story of Gideon. Each day, the children learned about God having a plan for each of our lives and that He is also able to help us fulfil it. We also sang and discussed different themes, with the children divided into their age groups for discussion.

As well as the teaching, we also had sport, free-time, games and English classes in two age groups.

Since the majority of the children are from Niš, we have remained in contact with them and regularly invite them to our youth and children’s activities. We’ve also transformed our Sunday school into a children’s club, where the learning activities are a similar style to those from the camp. Some of the children from the camp whose parents do not attend church have also shown interest in the club – and these parents are supportive of their children’s involvement with us. It’s so exciting to be able to share His word with children.

We were very blessed on the camp. As always, prior to the camp, we prayed for the team, for the children and for protection for everyone. And we really felt God’s protection.

Please, go to this link to see pictures from the camp. Enjoy!

God works!!!

We had an English camp in Backa Topola in July. About 26 teens came from Backa Topola and Pacir and had a great time while learning English, playing games and hanging out with each other.

We had prayed for opportunities to share the Gospel and the love of God, and we were blessed to see that the kids were open, very honest and felt free to ask questions. I will never forget the words of a teenager guy who claimed himself  to be an atheist, that even if he didn’t believe in God, he still enjoyed very much to listen to the conversations about Him. A girl said she wanted to start coming to the church, because “Christians at the camp were so loving”. Seven of them said that they came to faith during this camp.

We really grew close to these kids, and continue hanging out with them at the church. So far we have had 2 “follow-up programs” , the first one was a barbecue, and we organized a disco-party for them last Friday. Please pray that God would continue working in their hearts.             THANK YOU FOR YOUR PRAYERS AND SUPPORT!

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.

28th June – A Day for Prayer for Serbia and the Balkans.

 

Today is the 28th June: a most significant day in Balkan – and world – history…

 

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Celebrated in Serbia as “Vidovdan”, many mark the ancient “Battle of Kosovo Field” that took place on this day in 1389 between the Ottoman Empire and the Serbs (supported by Croats and Bosnians) in Kosovo. This battle resulted in defeat for the Serbs and a change of fortunes for the peoples of these lands as the Ottomans continued north.

Ingrained in the culture and history of Serbia, there are songs, poems, paintings and legends that refer back to this day…

 

1914

It was on the anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo Field that Archduke Ferdinand chose to visit Sarajevo, Bosnia and was killed by Princip who in turn attempted to take his own life. These events precipitated the beginning of the First World War that was to rage to 1918.

 

1989

On this day, the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo Field, then-president, Milosovic, addressed a crowd of approximately a million people at Gazimestan – the site of the ancient battle. To some this was a heroic celebration, to others a provocation that was another landmark on the road to the terrible civil war that soon was to ravage the region.

 

2014

Across the world, many are solemnly remembering today as the 100th anniversary of those shots that led towards the First World War.

In one Bosnian city, close to the centre, a new building is being opened today. Here, Serbs, Croats, Bosniaks – and members of other European nations – meet together claiming a unique unity experienced through trusting in the One who calls Himself the Prince of Peace. They claim to follow Jesus Christ – Emmanuel – “God among us” – crucified to bring forgiveness to a broken and rebellious humanity – a forgiveness that brings liberation, relationship, hope and a future…

 

How should we mark such a day?

Many of us are choosing to set apart today to pray for the peoples of the Balkans, recognising that along with all of humanity, we need a rescue – a rescue that comes about through trusting in Jesus Christ – “The God with Scars”…

 

“But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.
“We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.”

Isaiah 53:5-6

 

- Andy Mayo with many thanks to Jenny Blake for suggesting that we mark today by praying for the Balkans.

Floods in Serbia

Even small things can make a difference!

It’s always horrible to hear about natural disasters, still most of us probably think that such things won’t happen to us, to our country. However, nature is an uncontrollable and unpredictable force.

No one was left untouched by the news of recent floods and the subsequent losses  in Serbia, so a couple of churches in Vojvodina(Pacir, Backa Topola, Subotica, Cantavir) have decided to gather and get relief supplies to flood victims in Šabac,Serbia.
On the 26th of May we set out in a van packed with food , drinking water and personal hygiene products.

We went to Šabac to meet with the pastor of the local church. He directed us2 to go to families who were affected by the floods the most. We were excited to bless them financially and  spiritually as well. It seemed that they needed words of encouragement more than anything else.