Today is our first day of the English camp. I woke up super early this morning and never was able to get back to sleep. So, I finally decided to get up and do what anyone would do in this situation: process some thoughts through a blog post and capture a time lapse video of the city waking up, from the perspective of my hostel window!
Yesterday was Sunday and we got to go to church where we got to see old friends that some of us have made on previous trips here to Sarajevo. We also got to pray for the Pastor and his family as they are going through a pretty stressful season with many things going on including their son preparing to leave for America where he’ll be doing an internship in Michigan. We also prayed for a teen girl who is planning to be baptized this week at a church camp she is attending. She was a translator for us last year at the English camp and so it was so great to get to see her and pray for her as she takes this step of faith this week.
After church we had lunch with the pastor of the church. He told us his story of coming to Christ shortly before the war, which happened in the early 90’s and how he began to help lead a Bible study with believers and was recognized as a pastor by the time the war ended. I really enjoyed his humble heart and hearing about his desire for unity among the believers here in Sarajevo.
After lunch some of our team went sight-seeing and a couple of us went shopping to get more supplies needed for our camp.
As we’ve been here for a couple of days now, I’ve been processing some of the things we’ve been learning and seeing. Bosnia and Herzegovina has been hard place for the gospel to reach for many, many reasons. It’s been so great to see how dedicated and sincere the Alliance team is. They truly minister in a very wholistic way. They are here for the long haul and I think that will prove to be very beneficial. You can’t just scatter seeds on hard ground and expect a harvest next fall, it takes some effort and dedication to break new ground and make it grow a fruitful crop (I learned this growing up on a farm! See Dad, I was paying attention!) I’ve often been very proud of the work they are doing here and I’ve been feeling that way again on this trip. It is a joy to be able to help them in any small way we can while we are here.
As a church we’ve been praying for this country to be open to the gospel and for the hard ground to be broken up, that seeds may be planted and grow. The last couple of days, we’ve been hearing some exciting news. It’s all still just a faith-filled hope and hasn’t materialized yet. It’s also a little bit hard to explain what has been described to us… But, maybe the best way to put it is that there seems to be some “rumblings” here in believer’s spirits that some amount of breakthrough is coming. This is playing out in a few ways:
For one, there are some plans to have an internationally known speaker come and hold a large event. It sounds like this type of thing could bring many of the believers together and be an incredible presentation of the gospel. The likes of which have not been seen here. Maybe have never, ever been seen here??? It also has potential to draw many people to give their hearts to Jesus. If that were to happen, even if 100 people came to faith in Christ, that would be a break through that would truly be tremendous! Pray for the evangelistic event to be very impactful!
There have also been some shifting of believers in various leadership positions. People moving to different roles, or new or different opportunities. All of this seems like potentially God maybe opening up space or opportunities for….something…. new fruit?
Also, the culture here can tend to be very focused on hierarchal authority. (aren’t we all in one way or another??) And the church can be no different. While leadership and authority are something that God setup, if we become hungry for power or if leaders cling to their authority in an unhealthy way it can stunt growth in discipleship and hinder other believers from stepping into their callings and seeing multiplication as God produces fruit through many lives. It sounds like there is beginning to be a greater movement toward churches becoming more “team based” with local leaders giving away authority and encouraging all the believers to function in the ways Jesus has gifted them to function.
All of this is very exciting and hopeful. It sounds like the beginning of answers to prayers we all have prayed over the many years our church has been partnered with this field. Let’s keep praying! It’s time to lean in!