This morning, with team coming from all over the UK, and Eire and as far afield as New Zealand and South Korea, the Oak Hall coach is on her way towards the Balkans.
79 of us are aboard our 18m long “home” for the next ten days.
Already there is a wonderful atmosphere as we pray for a time of God working in our own lives, His using us, an insight into the situation of the Church in this region and a time of God preparing us to serve Him more effectively when we return to our homes.
We are all very pleased that you, as you follow this blog, are a part of this journey too.
On Monday 21st June, an Oak Hall coach will be heading out towards the Balkans. With stops planned in Croatia, Bosnia, central and south Serbia, this is going to be an epic journey.
Meeting Key Leaders in the Balkans
We will particularly focus on meeting with the students, team and graduates of the Bible College that began back in 1996 following five years of bringing aid into the region during the civil war… Many of the graduates are involved in strategic front-line work where they are sharing with those around them about the risen Lord Jesus and His restoring, sin-forgiving touch on the lives of those who entrust themselves to Him.
Bringing Humanitarian Aid and the Message of Hope
We will also visit five refugee camps and one very poor “slum” area – all places where we have long-term relationships and where graduates of the Bible College work. In five of these we will hand-deliver humanitarian aid.
Please pray that we would be a clear witness to those who have not yet met Jesus Christ and an encouragement to those who are already walking with Him.
We pray that all of us will grow closer to the Lord Jesus through the combination of evening Bible studies, time together and meeting followers of Christ from other cultures. We pray that we will return home with a greater commitment to pray for the Balkans and the Church of Jesus Christ here. Please pray that each person will return from the journey challenged, changed and inspired to faithfully stand for the Lord Jesus in the places where He has put each of us.
We will travel thousands of miles overland and sleep most nights in tents – all with a diverse, cross-cultural team. There are bound to be many unforeseen adventures and opportunities for us to grow over these next days.
We plan to use this blog and also a Facebook group – YU66 – to keep those who want to know “posted”.
Since graduating for the Bible School in Belgrade, Drago and Jaroslava have been planting a church in their town. They are supported primarily by their sister church in the next town about seven miles away but also through Oak Hall in Serbia.
We are very glad that we can share with you what is happening as we work on church-planting in our town of Ruma.
We consider it a big privilege, to be a part of what the Lord is doing here. Our desire is for all of us to be encouraged as we look at how Jesus Christ builds His church.”
A Story of one of the first to turn to Christ in our town…
My name is Nikola, and I am 72 years old. I am from Ruma. My mother and my parents in law used to go to church, but her and I didn’t. All of my life I wanted to turn to God but I kept putting the decision aside. And since I hadn’t made that decision, I gave in to the sinful life. When I grew old I couldn’t believe that God would forgive me the years of sinful life. In the beginning of 2009 I became seriously ill and spent two months in the hospital. The doctors weren’t optimistic regarding my recovery. Since my relatives were attending a church, the church regularly prayed for my salvation and physical recovery. While I was in the hospital the leader of the Church visited me and prayed for me. After several such visits and confession I felt God was calling me to pray and give Him my whole life. After this prayer everything became different. I felt immensely relieved and felt God’s care and forgiveness. Shortly afterwards my health became better and I came home. Through everything I had exsperienced I realised that the Lord Jesus Christ cared form my life and that it wasn’t the end. Six month later I decided to be baptized and become a member of the Church. I live my life in a completely different way, now. I enjoy going to church on Sundays and listening the Word of God that teaches, shapes and changes me. I am grateful to the Lord Jesus Christ for forgiving me the 72 years of my sinful life.
Jaroslava teaching children in Ruma
Before Drago and Jaroslava were married, Jaroslava worked for a number of years with Romi children in central Serbia with the excellent team of “Dete i Svet”. Now based in Ruma, a large element of her work is with children from some of the poorer communities around her. At a recent Christmas programme, 1000 attended an event they ran in the local sports stadium where they heard the Message of Jesus clearly shared…
Here in this photograph she is running one of the classes for these children.
Vision and the plans for the coming period:
Strengthening the church and building up the believers
“With good weather we were able to meet outside. Some children from Nis shared an excellent Christmas programme which the refugees enthusiastically followed. We shared about the wonderful Name of Jesus Christ our Saviour explaining that we can’t celebrate a birthday (Christmas!) without the presence of the One whose birthday we are celebrating!
“All of the children received Samaritan’s Purse Christmas packets from children in England. They were very happy as they don’t often receive games and toys.
“We thank God for each one of you who pray with us that God would be honoured here!”
“We are so grateful for all the support we have received from you throughout the year. We are happy that an army of brothers and sisters stands together with us in our ministry. Many victories have been won, just because you sacrificially prayed. Thank you!”
Please ::click here:: to read the rest of the latest news from the Bible School in Belgrade.
Thank you for clicking to this blog – today we sent an e-mail to all of those friends who have been praying for the work in the Balkans. Some have been praying for a few weeks, others have been praying for many years. Without this partnership, the story would be very different. We praise God for you!
Up until today, we’ve been communicating with those who pray through e-mails and letters. With such a dynamic work and such a need for prayer, we are now going to use this blog. We’ll be adding snippets of news every week or so. For now we’ll also be backing up the blog by sending news by e-mail every month…
The best way to keep right up to date is to subscribe to this blog using the e-mail link or the RSS feed on the right.
On this new site you also can add comments to pages, download a PowerPoint presentation, read again the “story so far”, find out about giving to the work… We hope that it’s useful and that it deepens our partnership with each other…
Thank you for being such a vital part of this work!
Across the Balkans, graduates of the Bible College are starting small Bible Study groups where folks can explore what the Bible says, ask questions, build frendships and begin to experience life in a community of people who love and follow Jesus Christ.
Led in homes, these small groups are very significant as they are embryonic churches that will go on to be and enormous blessing to the communities in which they are based.
The team of the Bible College meet like this in the town where some of the families live. Here they are a few days ago…
This week I’ve been in Serbia to teach at the Bible College. It is always a great joy to see how the work continues to progress and grow.
One absolutely key factor in this blessing is the prayers of those who faithfully stand with us.
Thank you for this partnership! I pray that this frequently updated site will fuel your continued prayer!
I have been in Serbia teaching through Acts 1-8, the story of the Lord Jesus continuing His “doing and teaching” as He began to build His Church. There are many parrallels in this book with the situation in the Balkans today: religious authorities trying to prevent a Message of salvation through Christ being communicated, the vulnerability and weakness of the Church materially speaking yet her richness as she is empowered by God’s Spirit.
Zlatka has just begun studying her second year at the Bible College in Belgrade. For three weeks she studies subjects such as Christian Ethics, working with children, councilling… And then for three weeks she goes to serve in Paracin alongside graduates Kresho and Zdenka who are planting a church there.
“When I leave here, I plan to return to my home town where I will help to lead the young people’s work. I will support myself and my sister who is unwell through starting a sewing business.”