Montenegro Camp Land
Earlier this month I visited Montenegro. In addition to having good family time (my sister-in-law and her family live there), I met a team from the USA that came over to continue the process we started several months ago: looking at land we hope to purchase for a camp.
Montenegro, with a population of 630,000 people, has about 200 Bible Christians; there are currently four churches in the country. There is no history of camping much less Christian camping. For the past several years we’ve helped run youth camps, always renting facilities. The church is growing, and there is a need for good camp/conference facilities in the country.
We are feeling called to open a Christian camp and conference center that would be not only a gift to the Montenegrin churches, but also a regional center for conferences as well as a way to reach out to the community.
My family and I (Olga, Valerie and Olga’s mother Tanya) drove from Russia to Montenegro, with a stop in eastern Germany. Olga’s dad was stationed at a Soviet military base in Rathenow, and it was nice for Olga and her mom to visit again and see how things have changed. It’s a long drive, but it is VERY good to drive through central Europe and see the countryside.
While in Montenegro, the team and I had a great time as we prayed on the land (below) and got more of a sense of how the Lord is leading us.
We had three primary goals for the trip:
- Build relationships
- Experience the culture
- Walk the land
Stoneworks values relationships, and as the team in Montenegro and the team in the US were growing and focusing on this project, it became clear that the two sides needed to have some time together. We had a LOT of fellowship time: meals together, shared housing, church meetings, and quite a bit of time riding in a bus together.
Most of the team members had never been to Montenegro, and for two this was their first overseas mission trip. It is very important for people to get a sense (as much as possible in such a short time) of the culture. To that end, we covered a range of experiences. The pictures tell some tales. . .
Of course, it was important for everyone to walk the land together, praying and discerning. We visited the land twice; the second time we were able to meet with the landowners and had very good fellowship with them. We also hosted a cookout for the youth ministry at the beach.
We all sense that the Lord is calling us to pursue this particular piece of property. This is a very important step, and it’s good that we have unity about it. We are now praying for the Lord to bring His provision, not only financial but also the human resources and knowledge needed to complete a big project like this.
Next, we need to do some more research on zoning, find a lawyer to help with the process, and determine organizational and ownership structures.
I believe that God will give us what we need when we need it. So, we don’t have the money to purchase the land right now, but we don’t NEED it right now. At this point we have all that we need – a great team that has unity and a desire to see the Lord’s will be done.
Cast of Characters (incomplete by all means):
- Vladimir Cizmanski: founding pastor of the Brethren Assembly in Podgorica, Montenegro.
- Lazar and Masa Simonovich: Lazar had a vision several years ago of this very land; he is a driving force in the process. He and his wife are multi-talented and have servants’ hearts.
- Jesse and Andrea McCourtney: American missionaries who are feeling called to take a strong role in the establishment and running of the camp
- Tim & Kristina Davidson: Tim (Australian) and Kristina (American missionary kid) are also missionaries who are taking a leading role in the youth ministry.
- Violeta Pavetic: currently in mission training in Norway and Brasil, Violeta has led the youth ministry and has been active as we’ve looked at land.
- Bill Curington: Senior Pastor of St. James United Methodist Church in Athens, GA
- Glenn Cole: Administrative Pastor at St. James UMC
- Dave Himmelsbach: Director of Missions at St. James UMC
- Scott Tomlin, Mark Newton, Brian Skaggs, Louie & Barbara Wyatt, Kim O’Brian, Jane Kilgo, Perkins & Janie Williams, George & Jean Allen