Story of the month – Salvation in Serbia

This cute little boy is Igor.  He wasn’t always so cheerful.  During the Serbian war, Igor and his family had to flee their home, and ended up with hundreds of others sleeping rough in a half-complete school building which became an ad hoc refugee camp.  Traumatised by the event, he withdrew, and became known throughout the camp as the child who never smiled.

Some while later, some Christians from Belgrade Bible School began a regular ministry to the refugees.  They built up relationships and helped whoever they could.  One day they asked Igor’s parents if they could take him on a children’s camp they were organising, along with his brothers and sisters and other children from the refugee camp.  His parents agreed.

When the children came back, people didn’t recognise Igor.  They thought he looked familiar, but they didn’t know him.  Only after a few days did somebody work out what the difference was – his cheeky grin!  When they asked him why he smiled so much, he told them that he’d met Jesus.

Belgrade Bible School has hundreds of similar stories of what God has done in the lives of Serbian people.  Since its beginning in 1996 amid the death throes of Yugoslavia, it has sent out church planters and evangelists all over Serbia.  They have endured much hardship and struggle, but the gospel is prevailing.  Please pray for them.  Supported by Oak Hall, the well-known organiser of Christian expeditions, the bible college is under Serbian leadership and continues to grow and develop.

Read more about Belgrade Bible College:

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PERU (Tim with Oak Hall/Scripture Union)

In Lima we met with former street kids now living in Scripture Union‘s refuge (supported by Oak Hall).  They put on a play for us showing how Jesus had rescued them from a life of bondage.  Many of them had been glue sniffers.  At first they don’t believe that people want to help them, and will only come to be fed, but as trust builds up they become willing to stay in the accommodation provided.  Kids who have been rescued go out to find more kids to bring in.  After one night in Lima we went to a conference centre in Chosica run by Scripture Union, where we rested from our journey, but couldn’t resist doing some painting!
Kimo is a retreat centre in a lush river valley where the kids go for summer camps.  Many of them meet Jesus for the first time there.  To get there we had to cross over a mountain pass 16,000 feet up in the Andes.  The narrow, winding road had been partially blocked by a landslide, so there was a tailback lasting several hours while it was cleared.  When we got off the bus we then had to cross a river on a hand-pulled cable car.At Kimo we cleared land for building new accommodation for kids who will live there permanently and helped with restoring existing buildings.  On the way back we drank coca tea to help us cope with the altitude, and ate guinea pig and bull’s testicles!
Chincha is a town on the edge of the earthquake zone.  Many of the concrete buildings in the centre were still intact, but in the suburbs poor people who can only afford mud bricks found their houses in ruins.  We helped with a feeding programme for the children, and cleared rubble so that people can rebuild their homes.Sadly some of the buildings were so shabby it wasn’t always clear which ones had been damaged by the earthquake.  Many people were just sitting around in a daze, desperate for water and blankets.  Bamboo mats, which were being used for makeshift walls, had gone up in price from US$2 the previous week, to $5 so many people couldn’t afford them.One little girl called Paloma had not stopped crying since her parents were killed in the earthquake 8 days earlier.  Her four-year old sister took her and put her hand in Anna’s and she soon cheered up.
At Kawai, which is on the beach south of Lima, there is another retreat centre and also a home where thirty former street kids are cared for. They had all come from Lima and had been moved to Kawai to get them away from the bad influences they once had.  None of them could go to school while we were there as the earthquake had caused structural damage to the building.   We played with them and took some strain off the harrassed house parents!  We also helped redecorate some chalets which are rented out to paying holidaymakers to make money to fund the ongoing children’s work there.