Together with Doug and Duncan from Christchurch, Guy and I have just come back from a trip to the Balkans. The aim of our visit was two-fold. The first was to speak at the annual Balkan leader’s conference in Croatia, and the second to welcome our first Serbian church into Commission. We have been working with the leaders Miro and his wife Sneza for a couple of years now, although Doug has been faithfully serving in Serbia for much longer.
It is a complex area, as the former Yugoslavia now consists of six different countries broken apart after the war some twenty-five years ago. It is hard for us to appreciate how difficult this must have been, although evidence of conflict is obvious in Croatia with roadside fields full of unexploded mines and buildings in the city of Osijek pocked with bullet holes. The history of conflict makes unity difficult, but Miro and Sneza have gathered together about seven churches with leaders who would have been unable to sit in the same room previously.
Life is tough here, salaries low, the distance between the churches considerable and Miro spends many hours driving hundreds of miles between Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, and Slovakia. Between them, Miro and his wife Sneza lead the church, publish Christian books in the local language, run a Christian television channel and preach tirelessly. Their energy is inspirational and together they make a formidable team!
The conference was a real joy and one of the highlights was seeing all the leaders at the front of the meeting with banners flying, the shofar blasting and the congregation cheering and dancing. Even without understanding the language it was a powerful and moving time. Another highlight was meeting a pastor from Bosnia and hearing his story of growing a church in a country with a Muslim majority, where there are only about 400 Christians in the whole of that nation. What a challenge!
It was amazing to see Siloam church which Miro leads, coming into Commission. It was packed with people and the atmosphere was one of joy and celebration. People there have seen denominations and foreign Christian leaders come and go, but we know that we will be able to commit for the long haul and see churches drawn together for corporate strength and vision. We are praying that it will be the first of many throughout that region.
I am sitting in my study praying and thanking God for this precious family we call Commission and all the wonderful people who are part of it. We are all on a great adventure to see thousands of lives transformed through hundreds of churches in tens of nations. We’re transforming lives under King Jesus then building transformed communities that transform nations.
We are all on this exciting journey, reaching towards a great vision and guaranteed inheritance. Westpoint 2018 gave encouragement to each of us to put the final destination into our “spiritual Sat Navs”. We heard a lot of great teaching at Westpoint about the Kingdom of God and these are helpful to listen to again as we seek God for this coming year. You can listen again by clicking here.
I am praying for the family of
I have put together this series in the hope that you find this a useful add-on to the book. Every blog will include a few related questions, these can be used in personal reflection or to be used in a small group discussion. We hope you find these useful.
1: If you were to describe yourself as a tree what tree would you choose and why?
2: Would you describe your life as blessed/flourishing? What season of life do you feel you’re in at the moment?
3: In what ways is “Christian flourishing” unlike the world’s description of “doing well”?
4: What areas of your life do you consider to be fruitful? What changes could you make, in line with God’s vision, to make you more fruitful?
5: Can you articulate the vision of
Seed can appear pretty weak, insignificant and helpless when holding our hands and yet we know that it contains a code of life that is able to reproduce multiples of itself 30, 60, even 100 times. Farmers and gardeners know all about the unlocking of this code to produce a harvest and fruit. The disciple of Jesus must have an understanding of the seed of the gospel, which has an amazing ability to be working invisibly and then to bring about a sudden moment of salvation.
1: Does poor in spirit describe your life? What areas in your life are you tempted to rely on yourself rather than God?
2: What is the DNA of the gospel message? Can you describe this so that a nonbeliever can understand and what scriptures have helped you?
3: Why is it important for us to think of not only the gospel but also our lives as seed?
4: Trees typically have many seeds why do you think this is? If your sharing the gospel is a seed how many seeds would you seek to sow in a given week?
5: Why is it important to see the sermon on Sunday as seed? Is your heart open and receptive and prepared to hear and obey each week?