Guy and I took our first trip to Serbia last weekend to attend a leaders conference organised by Miro and Sneza. Both of them have been to Westpoint and Commission prayer and have developed strong links with Kings church Epsom and Godfirst Christchurch. Although originally from Slovakia, they left its relative security and followed the call of God to Serbia about 10 years ago.
Flying in to Belgrade Miro took us first to the town of Novi Sad where, overlooking the mighty Danube, we attempted to get to grips with some of the history and politics of this troubled nation. The battered stumps, all that is left of a nearby bridge, reminded us that very recently this town was bombed towards the end of the civil war. The war’s legacy has left a nation in difficulty, division and poverty. Hostility between people groups and the low standard of living in the largely rural economy has led to many younger people leaving the country.
Driving up into the hills of a national park, we settled in to the comfortable conference centre and met the church leaders who were gathering. Challenged by names which were difficult to pronounce, we were overwhelmed by their warmth and friendliness. Conversations were also quite easy as many speak a high level of English and we shared stories over good food.
Guy preached four sermons going through Ephesians, weaving in the story of Newfrontiers and Commission to help them understand where we were coming from. As always he was able to cross relational barriers and had everyone laughing and finding it difficult to believe he was a quiet Englishman! Duncan Lee and Doug Croucher also did one sermon each and as a team we had many opportunities to pray for individuals who were hungry to experience more of God.
On the Sunday we went to Miro’s church in Silbas where folk from several other churches also gathered making the long, narrow building totally packed. We enjoyed some Serbian hospitality afterwards with plenty of meat and potatoes! A highlight was meeting some refugees who have recently been saved and baptised.
Guy and I really enjoyed the opportunity to visit another nation and to learn more about the church there and its challenges and are excited to see what the future holds in links with Commission.