Merry Christmas to you all! I hope you have had blessed and refreshing time with your families. Unfortunately, there is little Christmas atmosphere in Montenegro nowadays not only because we traditionally celebrate Christmas on January 7th, but also because of the recent political unrest. Please pray for God’s intervention in our country in the realm of politics, for protection of the people and their property and for divine solution to our political crises. But, we, as the Church of Christ, have to remind ourselves not to be afraid of what this world and its people are afraid off. God is sovereign and He is capable to protect His flock in all circumstances, despite all turmoil. Therefore, I do not want this to be the main theme of this update, but I also want to talk about some other, real news.
The photos that you can see below in the slideshow are from two locations in Berane (our new church planting location). The first couple of photos are from the site of our construction project that got interrupted last summer. We were really sad to hear that the municipal authorities were not going to allow the family from the camp to finish up the works. That fell so heavy on the young couple, who had put all their hopes into it. The makeshift home we were helping them built was a solution to their main problem – the deteriorating health situation of their 2-yo daughter whose respiratory system was heavily affected by the appalling housing situation there were in. The construction works were interrupted in July and for couple of months it felt that they will never be finished. And then one day, after the worst seizure their daughter has ever suffered. After the girl’s life was in danger, the young man decided to finish up the construction works and move his family in. A month later, after his entire family and friends helped him in every way possible, the small family moved into their new home.
As you can see in the photos, it is all very basic and modest. They only managed to put up the roof and to make one room suitable for living. The rest – little hallway and bathroom – are yet to be “fixed”. Overall, although a lot of work is still to be done, the young family is hopeful and grateful. Their greatest physical need has been met, they are expecting another child and their tiny, yet-to-be-finished home (45 m2) feels like a palace to them. The municipal authorities seem to be turning a blind eye to them breaking a few rules and in all honesty, I sincerely hope and pray they will continue like that.
Please pray for the protection over this family, their child/children, their finances and their home. Pray that we can continue our ministry there by being fully led by God, not demonstrating our flesh and its “wisdom”, but in all humility allowing Him to help us make the right conclusions and show us the concrete steps. Pray for our wisdom and protection in encounters with Muslim groups/individuals and true heavenly authority while we preach the Word. May we always rely upon the Spirit to give us the words for every single situation and person.
But there is more…this little town is full of positive surprises (well, most of the time 😊) We found another area potentially open for ministry, ironically right next to Riverside camp. It is the settlement that had been built for the non-Roma, mainly Serbian, refugees from Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo. While many of its former inhabitants recently moved to the newly built apartment buildings (same EU housing project like in Konik), several dozen families – Serbian, Kosovar Roma, Montenegrin Roma, Bosniaks – still live there. At this point, we are still collecting information on this area and its inhabitants and are trying to establish connections and build relationships within the community.
The other couple of photos show the size of the area, although it is not clear yet whether all these little makeshift homes are inhabited. Please pray for all the wisdom, insight and discernment we can receive while we are stepping into this area and as we make plans for concrete activities. More precisely, we have plans to organize Samaritan’s Purse OCC shoeboxes distribution in that area next month, as our very first activity in that area. Pray that we prepare and organize well, both in terms of logistics and spirit. Pray that we build connections with the true “men of peace” and that whatever we build there, we build it on the rock.