In the ministry of the Word on Sunday mornings, Stan is continuing in John 7, looking at the big question: Who is Jesus? In our evening service, while awaiting the arrival of study material and commentaries for Revelations, Stan has begun a mini-series looking at specific individuals (eg,. Epaphras, Hezekiah) by whom we see God accomplishing His purposes and showing forth His glory. Please pray for God’s Word to be proclaimed, heard, and honored. May God grow His church here in Nikšić!
With Corona cases on the wane, some people have begun to return to in-person worship services. Thank you, Lord! Please pray especially for those who've made a profession of faith during the pandemic and do not yet have the understanding and/or habit of attending church and enjoying the myriad of blessings of meeting together with fellow saints.
We’ve also had a busy few weeks hosting guests from the States, Serbia, Denmark, and Russia: some staying with us for several days, some just for a meal. We thank God for the relationships that span the years and for those springing up. How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!
Update on the Book Project: This project slowed down considerably due to Covid19’s extended disruption of work, school, and family life routines, but progress *is* being made. Please pray for the translator as she seeks to accurately translate Good News for Anxious Christians with all its nuances.
The needs are great; the workers are few. Weekly we are coming up against barriers for growing our church ministries. There is so much we’d like to accomplish with respect to an ongoing children’s ministry, the live-broadcasting of our services, an expanded outreach to working adults, but those mature enough to serve are already serving in other capacities. Please pray for us to find a way forward and for God to bring the right people: more believing families with children, local Christians maturing into service, and/or short-and-long-term missionaries. Soli Deo Gloria!
We give thanks to the Lord above for all of you reading this newsletter, praying faithfully, supporting us sacrificially; you are God's blessing to us and His people in Montenegro. To God be the glory!With great love and appreciation,
Stan and Vicki Surbatovich
Vicki's Snapshot: Meeting People
As I’ve shared in the past few newsletters, getting settled into a new home starting from near scratch with five children in tow was our initial major undertaking. Getting to know people was our next major task and a major prayer request. Right from the start, God answered most wonderfully and brought Vera K. into our lives.
When our family moved to a different country, we couldn’t just enter and decide to set up house. We had numerous bureaucratic hoops to jump through. The first, getting our visas, was accomplished on a prior trip that Stan took on our behalf. That step got us into the country.
But in order to rent a house legally, to set up utilities, to enroll the oldest of our children in the public music school, to pursue recognition of citizenship (Stan and the kids), to move forward with registering the church, we needed to have all kinds of documents translated. Birth certificates and passports for each family member, our college diplomas, our marriage certificate as well as Stan’s parent’s marriage certificate, Stan’s father’s death certificate, our “Declarations of Good Health” provided by our American doctor prior to our departure, plus the requisite “I”m Not a Criminal” proof.
These documents could not be translated by just anybody with enough skill (Stan had that); but the translator must be government-approved and in possession of an “Official Stamp” to properly certify them. The city offices kept a list of names; we picked one: Vera K.
Vera adeptly handled our mound of documents, and in the back and forth of going over details and questions that arose, we forged a relationship between our families. She was married with two children approximately the same ages as our two oldest. She invited us all over for coffee and cake at their flat; the grown-ups talked and the kids played together on the floor; we had her family over for coffee and cookies and the kids ran around outside.
From the get-go, Vera took to our family in a special way. Before the breakup of Yugoslavia, she had traveled, lived in England for a time, and enjoyed a cosmopolitan life at home and abroad. The years of suffering through the civil wars, with its sanctions, had had a chilling effect; life was hard, dark, and bleak. Coming from outside the country, we brought a certain freshness into her life, and hope, too, as we shared the gospel and explained our desire to see a church established.
Now, what we didn’t know when we chose her was that Vera was a go-getter woman. Her work for the government as a court-approved translator was only one small part of her busy life. She also worked for the steel mill (a major business in Nikšić at the time) and taught English at the local university. She lived and worked in three distinct circles of society, and she took it upon herself to introduce us to each one.
Every week or so, she’d call up and ask us to meet someone, often with the preface of “They’d love to meet you” or “I think they need to hear what you have to say.” So through her, we met people from those three circles: government, working man, university/higher education.
Vera introduced us to my initial language instructor, Milijan, who became a good friend. Through her we met Svetlana; even today we are regularly invited to her slava every Dec. 19 (St. Nikola’s day). We also met the M. family, refugees from Sarajevo, whom we helped, in a small way, emigrate to Australia. We met local government leaders, former diplomats, engineers who worked at the steel mill, deans and professors from the university, ordinary local families. With some, we continued on with socially, with others through help we could give, but each meet-up led to an ever-widening circle of contacts.
Sadly, Vera didn’t live long; she succumbed to cancer several years after we first met. For all that she introduced us to people “who needed to hear what we had to say,” we don’t know that she made a personal profession of faith. We do know that she heard the gospel and we take comfort in that.
I look back with amazement that, out of all the tens of thousands of people in Nikšić, we first connected with Vera who opened so many doors for us. Truly, we made our plans, but God directed our path.