Thanksgiving to God
"Our brothers are the messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ." 2 Cor 8:23.
Can you believe the church of Corinth, Greece, 2000 years ago was proclaiming Jesus and is now only ruins! The heaviness of idol worship, with animal sacrifice and temple prostitutes, literally loomed over them on the mountain top behind the tall columns. Is our world very different today? Society may have changed the focus of the offering, but we are still betrayed by our allegiance to other things rather than God. Hallelujah for the church and the believers around the world! Every Sunday, the praise to God goes on around the world and the sweet body of Christ brings thanksgiving unto God. The fellowship may be small or large, but praise continues in almost every language around the globe. God has a plan and the gates of hell cannot stop Him.
Ivica, whose picture I did not take, unfortunately, told Merle that he changed his perspective years ago. He used to think that Christianity was only for old people who were about to die, but he learned that LIFE in Christ can be exciting and stimulating! Merle taught him to climb and rappel, snowboard, and actually make life fun! Ivica took on the responsibility of caring for the equipment and the safety of the campers at the camp where Merle built a ropes course for experiential learning activities, including a zip line. They are expanding the camp with new buildings and impacting the lives of the Evangelical church campers.
The 20th Women's Oasis Conference in Croatia was surprising with so many newcomers, or so it seemed to me, coming into the Balkan region to serve, especially with some old timers leaving the field within the year. It was so encouraging! God has a plan!
We again met with so many during the month of October; I have bunches of pictures. I will try to be brief.
It was great to se Dado, a dear friend from 1999, Amra our language teacher at one point, and (Merle photo-bombing) Ajsa, Ada, and Adnan, a joyful and inspiring family. Jenny's back was worn out from walking on Trebavice!
Samir and Mediha and their wonderful family were very gracious and even served us lunch! We felt very special! They were in our home group back in the early 2000's where Samir joined the family of believers! Their kids said they are the only Christians in their local Muslim school. I'm sure there is prejudice held against them. The kids' English is great!
Merle was able to help Mladen build and I helped Violeta clean husks off the hazelnuts. Unfortunately, many of the hazelnuts were taken, probably by wild pigs, or other varmints.
A lovely visit with Halida turned into an opportunity to see our old neighbors as well, Huso and Ahmed, and their families. The kids have grown, naturally, and are learning English!
We had sad and reflective times at cemeteries: Asima, a dear friend and Christian, buried in the Atheist section of the cemetery, because they don't have a section for Evangelical Believers; Bahra, our feisty landlord, passed away from Covid three years ago; Aida had cancer which took her much too young. We miss them all so very much.
Remi and Dejana and their three lively youngsters were so great to catch up with. They are serving their community by projects for the school. We left our DVDs and player with them and they projected a movie on the side of the building for all the neighbor kids to watch! We ran into Indira working in town, but missed visiting again with Belmin. Too bad, so sad.
Mark and Kathy Eikost shared their church with us in Zenica. We visited with some of our former neighbors, Enver, Kasema, and Emir, and had some conversation about the differences between Islam and Christianity. They are quite convinced about what they believe.
Bosnia is a lovely land full of mountains, fresh springs, rivers, and lots of natural beauty. There are Muslims (the majority), Catholics, and Orthodox believers. The Evangelical church is quite small, less than .002%. There may be 400 believers in the whole nation, but that may be a high estimate, as most of the little churches are 15-30 believers. Still, God is not thwarted.
Rafika made zeljanica for us and I made a cheese ball for her! Alija is a master beekeeper!
We had a lovely trout lunch with Kay and Mark with meaningful conversation about the local churches. We had dinner with Violeta and Stipe with all kinds of mixed meats, some a bit of a mystery!
Our former neighbors: Ado and his daughter, Amila, the grandchildren of Bahra, Amina and Faris, and the son of Bahra and his wife Dina and her mother, all neighbors on Kobilja Glava where we lived for so many years. We miss them all. It was truly amazing to catch up with all that has been going on in their lives, and the blessings and challenges they face.
We met with Dejan and a friend visiting in town. We spent quite a bit of time with Dejan, as he was in our previous home group and he lives very close to where we were staying. He often came over in the evenings to play trains or snack while we discussed various aspects of theology. Fun!
It was a privilege to visit Jill and Larry, former teammates, in Athens, Greece and attend a camp day, as well as the church service of the Evangelical Church plant which with they are working. They took us to several Biblical historical sites. Thank you, Lord, for this opportunity! We even ran into the brother and wife, David and Erin, of old friends of ours from First Baptist Atlanta many years ago before we went to Bosnia, the Whatleys! Such a small world!
Azra cut my hair again for heading back to the States. What a sweetie! We visited New City Church on our last Sunday in town. They are collecting signatures to try to be registered as an Evangelical International church in Sarajevo.
We had a wonderful time taking the train to Mostar to visit with Zlatan and Lejla, playing instruments and singing karaoke in the afternoon before heading back to Sarajevo.
Melika and Damir and their cutie pie served us a late night dinner. It was lovely to catch up.
Our last days we visited with Mladen, Violeta, and Beki at Luster. We will miss them, as they hold down the fort, as they say. We gave our dominoes to Ada and Ajsa, who really had fun playing trains with us. Sutka cooked dinner for our last night, as well as at other times, and Dejan helped us eat the snacks left in our fridge. It was great to spend our last bit of time together.
"We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." Colossians 1:9b-14.