Back to Bosnia, by Pastor Nick Stumbo
Though Facebook, and the Internet in general, have tried to shrink it, the world is still a very big place. Thousands of people groups dot the globe, and for most of us, our awareness of these other cultures is limited at best. Then Jesus comes along in His gospel and calls us to “Go into the world and make disciples.” How can we be light around the world when we struggle to be light in our neighborhoods?
About five years ago, East Hills was stuck in this kind of place as a church. We cared about the world in general, and knew that God had called us to go, but the overwhelming amount of countries, peoples and cultures kept our missions outreach stagnant. It was at this time that we were introduced to the idea of partnership. Partnership in world missions means adopting or embracing a specific place of the world as your own- the particular place where you will invest and go deep.
As our leadership team prayed through many possibilities, the country God put on our heart was Bosnia Herzegovina. Part of the former Yugoslavia, Bosnia fell into a horrific civil war in the mid-1990’s. Their neighbors, Serbia, controlled most of the military and most of the money. Due to this and long-standing historical divides, the civil war quickly turned into an ethnic-cleansing as Serbs moved through Bosnia and began driving out, or worse eliminating, Bosniak Muslims and Croatian Catholics. A 42-month siege of the capital city Sarajevo was ended by the USA-brokered Dayton Peace accords. This arrangement gave Bosnia its sovereignty as a country, but the deep cultural divides remain to this day.
Bosnia is a country divided by deep, ethnic lines. To be Bosnian is to be Muslim, even if just in name. An uneasy peace or tolerance exists between the three main people groups- Bosnian, Serbian (Orthodox) and Croatian (Catholic). Here enters the church. The Bosnian Evangelical Church is a small, but unified group of believers who want to build bridges between the people groups with the message of Jesus Christ. The Alliance also has a team of workers who live and serve alongside this church to further their efforts of reaching the nation with the gospel.
Over the last five years, EHA has partnered with the Bosnian church and the Alliance. We have had teams go over to run a kid’s club, build a fence at a Bible Camp, and teach classes at the Bible College. It is with great joy and anticipation that Pastor Jesse and I are headed back to Bosnia Nov. 6-18 to further this connection. We will be joined by three others from the Tacoma Alliance Church. On our trip, we will be preaching in four local churches, helping lead worship, and teaching two classes on Spiritual Formation.
Here are some of Jesse’s thoughts about the trip:
“Having never been to Bosnia, I could almost put everything I know about Bosnia in two to three hundred words, which is exactly what I am about to do.
When I think about Bosnia the first thing that comes to mind is the war that happened there in the early 90’s. I was pretty young at that time but can remember hearing about it on the news. It will be interesting to see how this recent history of Bosnia affects the people there today. I know one of our team members recently lost her husband, and will probably have opportunity to share her story of God’s faithfulness to her, with Bosnian women who have also lost husbands. Please pray for that!
As a church we’ve been partnering with Alliance workers in Bosnia and I am very excited to be able to see this first hand. I’m looking forward to getting to know some of the Alliance workers better, and also to meet some of the local pastors and build relationships with them. I’ve heard stories of the friendships that have been built by others from East Hills who have taken trips to Bosnia. And I am looking forward to building similar relationships and hoping that God will put me in contact with someone with whom I can bring His blessing and light into their lives. Please pray for God to bring us all special opportunities to bless others and that we would have His eyes to see these opportunities as He sees them. Thank you for praying for us!”
We want to invite you to “take this trip” with us. You can read a daily trip log by visiting the House online: http://www.easthillsalliance.org/the-house/
As we come alongside the Bosnian church, where only .05% of the population have faith in Christ, our desire is to see Jesus reunite people with their heavenly Father and with one another. Pray that we would be an encouragement everywhere we go- to the Alliance team, to the Bosnian church and pastors, and to Bosnians who don’t yet know Christ.
Thanks for helping us be light in the world!