The Friday drive from Košice, Slovakia to Osijek, Croatia was without incident. Well, except Budapest which is always a nightmare to drive through, around, or near. Once you cross the event horizon near Budapest, time stands still. Anything gained by leaving early disappears into the darkness of the potholes which are waiting to greet you in Budapest. But I digress.
|Shrapnel scars on the river walk along the Drava river in Osijek - a reminder of the Serb/Croat war.|
|Don't let that smile fool you . . . Mrs Magda can stare you into submission in a heartbeat! (Mrs Magda, me, Toma's brother)|
In Parta I met Jovan and Radica along with Nenad, who goes by Tosa. These three have given so much in service to the Reign of God in this region by reaching out with the Good News and giving of themselves sacrificially in order to help others know the joy of Christ. Their charisma was evident; their faith was vibrant. Tosa, having never left Serbia, speaks almost perfect English! They spoke about the successes of their outreach activities in neighboring communities - how one fellowship quadrupled in attendance when they were able to devote their energies to the work on a regular basis. The lack of dependable transportation is one barrier to their ministry.
|(L-R) Avram, Jovan, Tosa, and me standing in front of Baptist Church in Parta|
As I asked about the situation of Baptist work in Serbia, it was disturbing to hear how laws which recognize only the majority Serbian Orthodox church make life very difficult for Baptists. Unable to own property or even open a bank account, local churches are tightly connected to the Serbian Baptist Union which was grandfathered in as a religious group. All properties are owned by the Union and arrangements for church bank accounts must be made by the Union as well. Years ago, automobiles to be used in the Parta ministry were confiscated by customs police because they refused to recognize the legitimacy of the local church. The punitive laws about recognized faith groups in Serbia represent a religious liberty issue of great concern to Serbian Baptists.
|Christian Baptist Church - Parta|
I usually don't write about my trips in a format like this. But I did so in order to share how this trip was made possible. Not only was it through contacts with local friends and churches, it was made possible because you gave to support the Offering for Global Missions. The Offering makes it possible for us to connect with others and provide a way for you to connect with them with confidence that your prayers, encouragement, and financial support are targeted in such a way to honor what God is already doing among our brothers and sisters in Serbia. Supporting the offering enables us to do the "due diligence" on the ground to ensure effective partnerships.
If you have not given yet to the Offering this year, you can make your contribution online immediately. If God is speaking to you about meeting the needs in Parta which I have shared here, then write to me at smcnary(at)thefellowship.info (If you have not seen emails listed in this form before, it is to cut down on spam. Replace (at) with @ and email me!)