We just returned home from a mission trip which included opportunities to share, pray, fellow-ship and worship with pastors and their families, church leaders and members of several of the twelve evangelical churches in Bosnia and Herzegovina which have received designated support in the past several years through Global Outreach. From April 5, 1992 to February 29, 1996, this beautiful country was the site of horrific slaughter and genocide as ethnic and religious hatred fueled the fighting. Even now,
One impressive young woman we met, Vanja Bule, is on a mission to help change this growing ethnic hatred and mistrust by sharing the love of Christ with the people of Bosnia. For the past ten years, Vanja has helped turn a piece of land tucked in a val-ley surrounded by mountains outside the capital city of Sarajevo, into a place of reconciliation and healing. For four weeks each summer Croats, Serbs, and Muslims come together for a time of evangelism, fellowship and encouragement. Vanja explained “so many kids, teenagers, young people, even older people who come, are so amazed at what they see because they don’t see it outside this place. They are drawn to the unity.” At a church service we attended we were introduced to a young man who went to the camp as an unbeliever and accepted Christ as his Savior.
The name of the camp is “Emek Beraka” which in Hebrew means “Valley of Blessing”. This name was taken from the story of 2 Chronicles 20, when God turned what was meant to be a valley of defeat into a valley of blessing. In this nation of over 4,000,000 people, approximately 700 are believers. The opportunity to come together at the Valley of Blessing camp each year strengthens believers and is an important evangelistic tool. Karmelo Kresonja, pastor of the Mostar church, said of the camp experience, “We pray for revival, we pray for each other, it really is a time to re-charge and be refreshed by God.”
The camp sits in a beautiful valley, yet much work is needed to make it more usable. They sleep in tents and worship outdoors. This year they are renovating a bombed out building into a kitchen, dining room, and some sleeping areas. Vanja sums up her hopes for the ministry of the Valley of Blessing: “When I see the children that I see divided in the cities of Bosnia and not talking to each other. When I come to this place and I see them playing the same games. When I see them sitting next to each other, when I see them worshipping the same God, when I see them and I don’t see ethnic groups, I see people of Bosnia, I see a future generation who might, just might, have a different future.”
On our visit we were escorted by Mike Mellison, a longtime Global Outreach partner and friend. Mike has visited Bosnia many times over the past nine years working to help pastors and church leaders develop business enterprises intended to provide income for pastors and support for churches. When people accept Christ as Savior, they are often rejected and persecuted, not only by their ethnic groups but even by their own families. They often lose their jobs and find it very hard to obtain employment. With unemployment at 45% or higher, these business enterprises such as a coffee shop at the bus station in Sarajevo we visited provide hope, employment and opportunities for sharing the gospel. Please join us in praying fervently for unity, healing, and spreading of the gospel, and for the difficult challenges our brothers and sisters in Bosnia face daily, living out their Christian faith.
Please give prayerful consideration to these and other indigenous ministries Global Outreach helps support in some of the most challenging and needy areas of the world.
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To see more pictures from the ministries in Bosnia please download our May 2013 newsletter: