| June 1, 06
Dear Family and Friends,
Well, there’s never a dull moment living in this country. Just a few weeks ago, a part of the Union of Serbia and Montenegro broke off – the republic of Montenegro. (This would be the equivalent of a state in the U.S.A. declaring independence and becoming its own country). So that makes a total of 5 states breaking off in the past 15 years: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Macedonia, and now Montenegro! Fortunately, unlike the bloody civil wars of Yugoslavia’s past, fought for independence, this secession was a peaceful one.
|Map of Serbia and Montenegro|
On April 27th something else happened that was extremely significant. On this date a federal law was signed into power that has the potential of making Evangelical Christianity illegal in this country! Please be praying that Evangelical Christian churches, like our own, throughout Serbia would be able to register with the government without any problems and continue to enjoy the freedom to meet together and minister publicly. Although we are disturbed by the law, its enactment didn’t surprise us at all. For the past several years the true Church has been targeted, ridiculed and labeled as a dangerous sect/cult publicly and privately by Pharisee-type traditional churches that have strong political influence. It’s the same thing that’s been happening in various countries throughout history – The hypocrites want to crucify the Body of Christ all over again!
Even though we are saddened by these new changes, at the same time we are encouraged and don’t lose heart. We know that we are on the right track:
"Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution."
II Tim. 3:12
They can come out with new laws against us, they can make fun of us, vandalize our buildings, label us, even kill us, but no one can stop God from accomplishing his sovereign will. He will complete the good work He started in this nation! Maybe I’m being a bit too dramatic, but I’m convinced that if God does allow the “worst” to happen, it will only cause His Church here to become stronger and grow faster. The plans of the Enemy will backfire on him, as they always have in the past when he attempted to snuff out our existence!
(Read more about this new law below).
Thanks again for your prayers and support. We are so thankful to have you behind us!
Love in Christ,
|Our Three Wonderful Children!|
Our church is growing leaps and bounds (in number and spiritually)! We took our first step in renovating the church by knocking down a wall between the sanctuary and Sunday School. We used to be able to seat only 40 or at the most 50 people. Now we will be able to seat a maximum of 90 or so! The children will be temporarily outside in the yard for Sunday School (Fortunately the weather is nice and warm) until we are able to fix up one of the other rooms. Please continue to pray the Lord would continue to provide the finances for these desperately needed adaptations!
|Maca (one of our coworkers who is discipling Svetlana) with Svetlana (right)
The other day I was visiting one lady named Svetlana from our church. Svetlana first heard the Gospel at a women's outreach my wife organized at the church. She came to a women's Bible study a few days later where the women were talking about fasting. Svetlana exclaimed, "I want to fast too!" My wife said, "Well, you have to first receive Christ as your Savior in order for the fast to mean something." and then went on to explain the Gospel to her once again. "I want to do that right now!" Svetlana exclaimed and so Jelena lead her through a prayer in front of all the women in the church.
Her life immediately began to change. I didn't realize how much it changed until this visit when I asked Svetlana's mother what she thinks of her daughter coming to our church. To my surprise she said, "I'm all for it and support her decision a hundred percent!" (Usually people are prejudice against our church and reluctant to let members of their family attend because of the reasons I mentioned above in the first part of this letter).
"Greg, if you would have only known her before! My daughter was a mess!!" she said as Svetlana looked down and nodded her head rather sheepishly. "She would have temper tantrums like you wouldn't believe! Slamming doors, breaking things, yelling at the top of her lungs, etc. Even the neighbors would come over to see if everything was allright after her crazy, histerical outbursts of rage! She was like a possesed woman. We didn't know what to do with her and even considered having her go to a psychiatrist. Then immediately after she started going to your church something snapped and it was like this calm wave splashed over her and our entire household. It was like she was a different person. We were just amazed!"
I got to share the Gospel with Svetlana's mom for the next hour or so. She was so open and interested. Just last Sunday Svetlana ran up yelling, "Greg, guess what!! My mom was to come to church and get saved!!!" I gave her a tract explaining, "That's great news, but you know, she doesn't have to come to this church to get saved. She can ask Christ into her life right in her home. Just go through this tract with her and pray with her at the end." "But, I don't know if, I um...." Svetlana interrupted. "Don't worry," I continued, "It's really very simple. You can lead her to Christ; REALLY!"
And yes, she did! Just the other day I found out the great news. Can't wait to see them both worshiping the Lord together this Sunday! God is so awesome!
|Team speaking conversational English at local private school I teach at once a week|
Just a few weeks ago the Lord blessed us with a team of people from a church in Lisburn, Ireland who became very interested in helping and supporting our ministry in Sombor several months ago. (Thanks to their church: we were able to get a little bit more out of debt for the church building, we were able to begin minimal renovation, and our coworker Maca is continuing to receive support for full-time ministry). They, and a representative of Eurovangelism (the organization that provides us with humanitarian aid) were only here for three days, but during that time the Lord used them powerfully to encourage our church and even to minister to a few non-believers.
In just a few weeks another team will be arriving from "North Coast Church" in Vista, CA and one from Mexico at the end of July. Please pray the Lord would use these teams while they're here to bring many to Himself and to bring the church closer to Him. It's so amazing to see the Lord orchestrate various churches/teams from different parts of the world to help further His Kingdom in this country! It really displays His incredible love and concern for the Serbian nation.
Article on New Discriminatory Law
This article was published by F18News on: 28 April 2006
SERBIA: President signs controversial religion law
By Drasko Djenovic, Forum 18 News Service <http://www.forum18.org>
Despite openly recognising that the controversial new religion law approved by parliament on 20 April violates the European Convention on Human Rights, Serbian president Boris Tadic signed it into law on 27 April. He ordered parliament to amend the law "in an urgent vote" to remove the violations, though Aleksandar Mitrovic of Serbia's Evangelical Alliance told Forum 18 News Service the president "was unable to give me a clear answer as to how he thinks he can achieve this, given his status and authority". Under a last-minute amendment before parliament approved the law, all but the seven recognised "traditional" faiths lose their legal status and will have to reapply, even those present in Serbia for more than a century like the Nazarenes, Baptists and Adventists. They also lose their tax-exempt status. "This law makes some citizens more equal than others," General Secretary of the Baptist Union Zarko Djordjevic complained to Forum 18. Minority faiths also fear they will lose the chance to regain confiscated property in the restitution bill expected to begin its parliamentary process in May.
For rest of article, log on to - http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=771