| Oct. 19,2006
Dear Family and Friends,
A few newsletters ago I asked you to pray for teams that would be visiting Sombor throughout the summer. The Lord did amazing things through the team from "North Coast Church's Twenty-Something" ministry (as you know from the last newsletter). But I haven't told you anything about the group of 37 Mexicans that came to visit us a few weeks after them. This group created quite an attraction for this sleepy town that tourists rarely come to.
|Team of Youth from Mexico on Streets of Sombor|
They put on a wonderfully rehearsed musical program right in the middle of town that drew a crowd of hundreds of people! After each performance, they would walk up to people to introduce themselves and invite them to our Sunday night service where they put on an Evangelistic outreach. They prepared authentic Mexican appetizers for their guests right before the service. Yuuuum!! The church was packed with newcomers! One of these, named Darko, started coming regularly to our church ever since the event and after about a month, I got to lead him to the Lord!!!
|Darko (in white circle) with others watching an Evangelistic skit put on by Mexican Team
On the 4th of Oct. we started our third Alpha Course in Sombor. We made invitations and got the whole church involved. We invited around 30 people and about 15 non-believers signed up.
For those of you who don't know what the Alpha Course is, please read the following:
This is a two-month weekly course we have once a year at the church that is designed to help non-believers find out more about Christ. 8 million people throughout the world have attended this course in various places: churches, universities, homes, and even prisons! It has been translated into 63 different languages and is currently being held in 153 different countries. Christians invite their friends to a dinner where they listen to a short lesson and then break into a discussion over coffee. The atmosphere is very friendly and non-threatening which encourages people to share what they REALLY believe. Here are some of the lessons: Christianity: Boring, Irrelevant, Untrue?, Who is Christ?, Why Did Christ Die?, How Can I Be Sure of My Faith?, etc. For more info see - Alpha.org
Several people in our church came to know Christ through this course.
So far we have had three sessions. Check out what happened:
11 of the 15 actually showed up for the first session. Zeljko, the pastor who took over our last church plant in Temerin, was our first speaker. He did an excellent job! Everyone we talked to after the meeting was very positive and promised to come back next week (All came back except for 3 who had reservations to go on a short holiday). I was so excited to see our babysitter come to the meeting, whom I've been praying for for years, with her daughter and son. A young man that I have witnessed to several times named Mladen, whom I met through the conversational English classes I have once a week, showed up too. 7 of those who attended were contacts that Maca, one of our coworkers, had made through the Humanitarian aid we receive from England. Fortunately, because we expanded our new sanctuary, we were able to have 3 tables as opposed to 2 that we had in the past.
At the second session, just as the founder of the Alpha Course warned us at the training course in England, the number of people who attended dropped considerably to 6. (But the number would have been 9 had my babysitter and her children not gone on holiday). There was a new person that came, named Ivica, who was the husband of one of the women, named Mirjana, from our church. When Mirjana first got saved a few years ago, her husband Ivica, who is a policeman, started putting all kinds of pressure on her to keep her from coming to church. The first time my wife and I met him while walking in the center of town, he would barely look at us and was rude! When Mirjana wanted to get baptized, Ivica forbade her from doing this and I sent out a prayer request asking you to pray for him. A few months later, the Lord answered that prayer and not only did Ivica let Mirijana get baptized, but he also attended the baptism and enjoyed it! Ivica had a great time at the Alpha Course and during the discussion time he said he agreed with everything the speaker said about Jesus.
At my table I had a wonderful time talking to two middle-aged ladies. They were both extremely open and kept saying things like - "I have never heard anything like this! I'm interested in God and believe that He exists, but never had an opportunity before to find out about Him. The information the speaker shared about the prophecies of Christ and the resurrection are amazing! I never knew anything about that before!"
At Maca's table two of the women started crying tears of joy. They were so happy Maca invited them to the course where they were finding out answers to questions about life that have weighed them down for years.
While I was driving around in the city a few days after this session, I noticed a lady named Valeria on her bicycle who attends the course. I yelled like a Serbian - "Hey, how are you!!" and she replied, "Great! I just can't wait till next Monday! I just love that course!"
|Valeria (on far left) at Maca's table|
Last night was an incredible night! Bera, an elder from a church in Novi Sad, was our guest speaker. 7 non-believers showed up (including my babysitter and her teenage children). The topic was the most important of the whole course - "Why did Jesus die?" Bera did an excellent job in explaining the Gospel. We know for sure that 4 of the 7 prayed to receive Christ into their lives! Maca couldn't wait to ask the ladies at her table. Although we had a wonderful discussion, I felt like I shouldn't ask the people at my table directly if they had prayed the prayer yet.
Unfortunately Mirjana and Ivica were unable to come to this session due to a death in their extended family.
Thanks so much for your prayers! Please continue to pray for the people who are coming to the course.
A Brief Note of Thanks from Jelena
Exactly five years ago, we moved to Sombor. There weren’t any Christians and our assignment was not easy. Many people came and went and I’m amazed at God’s creativity in how He has answered our prayers time and time again. He raised up various people from various different places to get behind us and help us accomplish our assignment. We couldn’t have done it without them and God knew it! I wish to recognize them and thank them now:
There is a team that comes and visits us at least once a year from America that always blesses us. They save up all year to pay for their plane tickets and spend their vacation time serving us and the community of Sombor with the gifts God has given them. They have helped raise support that helped us pay off our building and also raised support so that we could have coworkers to help carry our load. Thank you “North Coast Twenty-Something” ministry and “North Coast Church!”
The Lord has blessed us through a partnership with an organization called “Eurovangelism” based in England. They supply us with humanitarian aid we distribute to poor families; they have covered expenses for the “Alpha Course,” camps and various other projects. They have helped link us with other churches that pray for and help our ministry. We are so thankful for you!
There is a wonderful, caring church called “Lisburn Christian Fellowship” (located in Ireland) whose members we met through “Eurovangelism.” They have decided to regularly support one of our coworkers named Maca who was also our first convert here! They have sent teams on two occasions to visit our church that have been a tremendous blessing.
|Team from Lisburn singing to Karaoke in our house|
Their interest in our church and every individual member encourages us to keep going. Just recently, the children from their Sunday School worked to raise money to help us renovate a room for our Sunday school (through shoe shining, car washes, etc.) They have helped us with the expenses of our new sanctuary. Thanks so much for caring!
And then there are all of you who read our newsletter; some of whom we know and some who we don’t, who pray for us and help us financially. Thank you for your love and involvement in our ministry!
Through all of you, God has fulfilled his promise in building a healthy, growing church in Sombor. I can’t wait to be able to share with all of you the great experiences I have had serving the Lord and to hear about your own experiences. We’ll have time for this in Heaven and I’m looking forward to that day when we’ll all be together!
Thanks again for everything!
Love in Christ,