Monday, 24 October 2011

Lessons from the Black Mountain country

What do you do when you get a chance to go and partner with brothers and sisters in Christ on mission in the least evangelised country in Europe?
You go of course!!!
That's exactly what I have had the privilege of doing for the past 2 summers.
My colleague, Lensa, and I have taken 6 students from the CUs belonging to the NE and Yorkshire region of the UK to a little town called Niksic in the beautiful, rugged mountains of Montenegro.

Our aim: to help reach students with the good news of Jesus.
Our plan: to run and English and Bible camp for 5 days as well as some little events in and around the city building relationships in the week prior to the camp.
Our partners: EUS Serbia/Montenegro and the local churches.

(Check out IFES, UCCF for more information on the work worldwide and in the UK)

Danijel and Pete are two guys who are plugging away with conversation classes and general relationship building to try to make Christ know to students. They are committed to the only local evangelical church in the city and their perseverance is a wonderful thing to witness and a challenge to my weak faith. It was a privilege to work alongside them. Danijel is the first and only staff worker in the country.

The country has only been independent for a short while and the history, both politically and religiously, makes it a tough place to be an evangelical Christian. Most people are nominally Orthodox from a religious point of view. They believe they have the history and tradition and therefore as Protestants, not only did we come out of the Catholic church, but we have less history and less tradition so why should they listen to anything we say. So they prevailing attitude is the evangelicals are a cult and so are treated with suspicion or apathy.

What we did this year was build on the work of the previous summer. Further relationship building, but also some sport on the university campus with anyone who happened to fancy a bit of football or basketball as well as an acoustic cafe in a local coffee shop took place in week 1.
This was really helpful and although none of the contacts made came to the camp, we really benefitted from meeting people and getting to know a bit about the culture.We sought to serve the local church wherever we could too through participating in Sunday services as well as through moving a whole load of gospels from storage into the church.

The camp was awesome. The students lead English lessons at 3 different levels, Lensa and I did evangelistic talks and the students followed those up by leading discussion groups. We also had plenty of fun playing sport, teaching the locals how to Ceilidh and learning some traditional Montenegrin dancing. There is also an hilarious video of our team and their tribute song at the talent evening, I'll try find a link for it!

A few encouragements and challenges:

1. The local student believers whom we met in 2010 had all grown in their faith and it was wonderful to see that God had been faithful in keeping them.

2. Some local believers really have no support day by day because their town or village doesn't have a church and they cant travel to 1 of the 3 evangelical churches in the country or because their parents are not happy about their new found faith in Jesus.

3. Students in Montenegro ask similar questions to students in the UK due to the world becoming a global city through the internet and other technological advancements.

4. The impact the camp had on a couple of individuals made it all worthwhile. One girl, not a follower of Jesus, said she didn't want to go because she had loved it so much.

There is so much more to say, but this post is already huge! I pray that the foundations of partnership laid, and contacts made, will bear fruit in the awesome plan of God to bring many people to know and love Jesus.

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