| Nov. 10, 2009
Dear Family and Friends,
It’s hard to believe that 20 years has past since the fall of the Berlin wall, marking the end of the Cold War, Iron Curtain, communism in Eastern Europe…
I find it such an incredible privilege to be involved in sharing the Gospel and planting churches in this area of the world where the church was once so oppressed and closely monitored by authorities, where religious freedom was almost non-existent, where Bibles and Christian literature had to be smuggled into the country; being luxuries for the average Christian, etc. I know that what is happening now - the freedom that has broken through, the times we are now living in, have all come as a result of the prayers of many persecuted Christians who were once in isolation under the Iron Curtain. It’s so exciting to be building and spreading His Kingdom in this particular place at this particular time in history! May the Lord give us great wisdom to use the freedom we now have to reach those who were once unreachable; to fully take advantage the open door that is here in Easter Europe, while it is still open.
Thanks for your involvement in this ministry. Through your prayers and support, you are definitely playing a part in the work of grace that God has started - changing the face of this nation for His glory.
Sincerely, With Love in Christ,
|Jelena and me in front of an old Serbian well|
Just a few weeks after we got back from America, our foster daughter, Ivana, was married to a nice Christian guy named Milan. We had a wonderful time celebrating this joyous occasion with them. Jelena’s whole family, except her father who was traveling, actually came out to the church for the event! They sat through the whole service and enjoyed it!
The Lord is definitely softening the hearts of her family members who years ago almost didn’t show up to our wedding, claiming that we are in a dangerous cult/sect. After us begging them to attend, they finally showed up, but only stayed for five minutes and then left.
Our Answer to Prayer is Finally Here!
Many of you remember how confused we were when we first discovered two and a half years ago that our youngest daughter, Hana, has autism. We were very close to moving back to America, but after much prayer we decided to just stay here. I asked you to pray specifically that God would bring someone over to us who has experience in helping children with autism. To many, this seemed like an impossible request. We knew it was a long shot. There aren’t exactly loads of people wanting to move over to Serbia, especially people who are trained in helping autistic children! But that which is impossible to us is possible to God. He answered that prayer by sending over Jennifer Osborn who spent a month with us last year over the summer. She’s always wanted to get involved in missions and particularly in the area of helping kids with special needs in Eastern Europe! Her previous job was at a preschool helping children with autism! Isn’t God amazing!!!!
Jennifer was officially sent over by her church, “Wilshire Avenue Community Church” in Fullerton, CA – the same church my grandparents used to attend!
Three days a week she goes to work with Hana at her preschool, helping her to interact with other kids and also doing behavioral therapy. She’s also been working with Hana in our house a few times a week. She dreams of one day opening a center for children with disabilities right here in Serbia. You can check out her website at - www.easysite.com/jenkosborn
More than I could dream (by Jelena)
“Now to Him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to Him be glory…” Eph. 3:20, 21a
I was 17 years old struggling with fear and doubt, wondering about the God my friend from school told me about. Thoughts were racing in my mind like: “Does this God really care about me? Does He really know everything about me? How can He make my life different and better?” in the midst of a country that was falling apart by civil war, with parents who decided to get divorced, and with an uncertain future ahead of me.
It was then I received a book I loved, written by an honest young girl who ended up in a wheelchair after an awful accident. She was asking questions, struggling with doubt and despair but then in the end she just decided to stop fighting and trust Him.
More than fifteen years ago I also decided to stop struggling and gave Him a chance by completely putting my trust in Him. I couldn’t have imagined all that He had in store for me. Never would I have dreamed that I would get to meet in person the author of one of the first Christian books I had ever read – Joni Eareckson Tada! God is just full of wonderful surprises!
|Visit last summer at "Joni & Friends" Headquarters|
After watching a documentary on the horrible conditions many disabled people in Serbia are living in, Joni Eareckson’s heart became broken for this country and she soon sent people over from her organization here to help. These representatives taught students at a Bible School near Belgrade about how to develop ministries to the disabled. Just a few weeks ago we got to meet with one of these representatives and the director of the Bible School to start planning a retreat held in April, 2010 for families with children with special needs. This is the beginning of a new and exciting partnership with “Joni and Friends!”
|John Wern, (Director of Family Retreats),
Jennifer, Jelena and Sladjan (Director of Bible School)
If you would like more information about “Joni and Friends,” check out their website - www.joniandfriends.org
The past few weeks we hosted an outreach team from Romania. They had all kinds of activities going on from concerts to conversational English, children’s club, etc. They did a tremendous job reaching new people in our community. Many seeds were sown and even a guy named Nemanja got saved at the end of their stay in Sombor! Here is a text message he sent to them the day they left:
“Last night, after I got home I prayed and got rid of the line between me and God. I said to him that I know I am a sinner, and that I want to be forgiven and loved by Him. I feel verry nice today. Tell me when you guys leave Sombor and from now on...I will be praying for you just like you prayed for me. I'm so glad that I made such good friends like you guys and like I said...I hope we will meet again...but until then...stay safe.”
What a way to end their outreach! Like icing on the cake!