Global Missions Update - Bosnia & Herzegovina Team
Could you imagine what it would be like to not hang out with someone because of their name? Unfortunately that’s reality people in Bosnia and Herzegovina.This is a country with three distinct ethnic identities – Bosniak Muslims (45%), Croat Orthodox Serbs (36%) and Catholic Croats (16%). These identities pervade the divided communities that many young people live in. And this division is unfortunately reinforced by the segregated political and education systems which were established after the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Furthermore, Bosnia and Herzegovina has one of the worst unemployment rates in the world. Unemployment here reached an all-time high of 46.10% in February 2013, rising as high as 80% in some towns which have been severely impacted by industry closure.
With facts like that, what hope does the nation of Bosnia and Herzegovina have for it’s future?
Not much, according to the international community who have largely abandoned any efforts to move this country forward over the last 20 years and who predict another war before 2050.
However, we believe in a transformational God, who can make beauty in the ashes, stream light into the darkest places and reconcile His children from the east and the west. We believe He has a different plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina than that which has been predicted by the world – a plan of hope, restoration and peace. It is only by His power that this society can change and that is why we are persevering in this darkness, that His glory might be revealed.
Perseverance is key. Christians account for less than 1% of the population, with an estimated 700 evangelical Christians in the entire country (of 4 million people). The ground is rocky – Bosnia and Herzegovina is officially a Muslim nation, with almost half the population identifying themselves as followers of Islam. The Orthodox and Catholic churches are tied up in politics and nationalism. Communist ideologies still pervade much of society. Suspicion is rife and the evangelical church is viewed by all 3 ethnicities as a cult.
I work for a missions charity called Novi Most International, which reaches out to young people from all ethnicities across the country – it is the only formal youth work provision in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Given the circumstances young people here grow up facing, the majority want to leave the country as they see no future of themselves here. Through the activities we run, we seek to provide young people with new experiences, skills and challenge their thinking. The ultimate goal is to see young people find hope and confidence in their futures here, through the transformational power of Christ. However, it is illegal to proselytise young people under the age of 18 here so we have to be discreet about this aspect of our work! Please pray for us over the summer as we have the opportunity to take many of the young people we work with to summer camps we run in partnership with the evangelical church – this will be the first time many have the opportunity to hear the gospel of Christ. Please also pray as we seek to build deeper relationships with the families of the young people we work with.
I have been working for Novi Most here in Bosnia & Herzegovina for a year and a half. I am the charity's journalist - I collate stories of what is going on around the field and report back to our supporters in UK and beyond. I write articles and create social media to promote our work, and for fundraising purposes. My desire is to communicate God's heart for this nation - that there is so much more for the people and this country than the war-torn image the media presents. I also help run an Education project for Roma people (the poorest and most marginalised community in the country), working to get Roma kids off the street begging and into primary school. We have had incredible opportunities to witness to this community through our work and run a Sunday school for some of the kids twice a month.
Please thank God for what He has taught me so far through all the people I have met here, His incredible provision of friendship, finances, and safety. Please pray that I would continue to trust Him for my future.
Thank you for your prayers. May His name be glorified in this nation. If anyone would like to be in touch with me or would like to receive my monthly newsletter, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org . If you would like to find out more about the work of Novi Most, please visit our website www.novimost.org