We celebrated Easter the last weekend of April. Stan preached from the entirety of Luke 24, emphasizing the necessity and power of the Word of Christ to move us from an inability to comprehend the truth to gaining right understanding of Christ's death and resurrection. We welcomed one first-time visitor and enjoyed a sweet Fellowship lunch together after our service. Please pray for those hearing the Word to embrace Christ as Lord and Savior.
The Church is Growing! We give thanks to God for the safe arrival of Katja Olah, born to Saša and Marina, at the end of April. Join us in praying for Katja to grow in the love and nurture of the Lord, for her parents growth in their new roles, for the church to establish an ongoing children's ministry.
Breaking News! On Sunday June 12th, we will formally recognize Peter Stonelake as a co-elder. He has long been an active, valuable member, above reproach, sober-minded, able to teach, well-thought of by outsiders. This is a celebration a long-time coming, delayed because of Covid. A couple representing Cornerstone Church (Nottingham), Peter’s home church in the UK, will be joining us for the service and a church-wide celebratory lunch to follow. Please pray that God would continue to use Peter to bless His people here in Nikšić and all of Montenegro.
Summer will be hopping with other activities as well: The arrival of our BGU interns back for a month of summer ministry; a UK team for a university summer outreach; Camp Monty (the Sports outreach to ages 8-18); and the much-anticipated wedding celebration of Danica and Gabor (Danica is a baptized believer from our church, now living in Slovenia). Please pray that God would help us make good plans and bring them to fruition in the face of ongoing Covid uncertainties.
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: The M Family: Refugees from the Bosnian War, Part 1
As you may recall from the last Snapshot, Vera K, who introduced us to much of Nikšić society in those early months, connected us with the M Family. Vera had gotten to know the M’s through her official translation work just as she had with us. They, however, were not in Montenegro willingly, but as refugees from Sarajevo, and they were hoping to make it to New Zealand, where Mr. M had an aunt living.
We clicked quite quickly with this lovely family; in part, I think, because we were both recently-arrived, non-natives to Nikšić and Montenegro. We could commiserate on missing our homelands without being deemed ungrateful or dismissive of our new surroundings. And from the M family, I learned for the first time, a little about the plight of a refugee family.
Two families traveling new paths
Even with the Bosnian war over, the M family had no desire to go back to Sarajevo. I didn’t blame them. We had taken the family there, needing to visit a US embassy with all kids in tow, and that was the closest one—closer than the one technically located in country up in Belgrade, a 10+ hour drive. It was far better to take the 4-hour trip.
It was a sobering drive, my closest (even if tiny) brush with war in a personal way, and those chilling scenes are not forgotten; up til then, war had only been something in history books, happening long ago and far away.
As we journeyed through Bosnia, I noted the myriad of yellow “Keep Out! Danger!” tapes strung along the country roadsides, marking the hills and meadows where land mines were known to be buried. We passed shells of homes on the outskirts of the city, the roofs and interiors burnt down. Most were uninhabited; I wondered about the one with a bright blue new car parked in front. As we came closer to the city, we spotted the uneven skyline as still-standing buildings were flanked by leveled neighbors.
Most chilling were the walls of apartment buildings and shops rife with gunshot pock marks. A lobbed shell, a thrown grenade—these could all be done with a kind of blind eye, just tossed out, so to speak. But to think of those marksmen, aiming down the barrel, picking out a target on a walking street where the ordinary citizen was trying to get on with life, where kids play, Mamas shop, and Grandpas sat on park benches playing chess to pass the time….
Yes, it was absolutely understandable why the M’s wouldn’t want to go back. Sarajevo, as I saw it, was a living hell. But, as the M’s begin to talk, I discovered another Sarajevo, their older, pre-war, capital city. Their eyes began to shine as they talked about their homeland as they had known it: a delightful metropolis with a touch of homey-ness as to make it family-friendly. They reflected on the good life they had had, with a home, well-regarded schools for the kids, enough money to enjoy good restaurants and rich culture, provided by satisfying professions—he a journalist, she a lawyer. They had no complaints about Sarajevo. On the contrary, they had loved their life and hated that it had ended.
But that Sarajevo, the one that sparkled with life and love, the one they knew, no longer existed. Much had been bombed. Family and friends killed. And, where there once had been a multi-cultural spirit of “Our City,” that was gone, too. Sarajevo was now partitioned off into pro-Bosnian (Muslim) areas and pro-Serbian (Orthodox) districts, each side keeping a wary eye on the other.
As Mr. M explained, they wouldn’t be going back to their home, but to a foreign country with many wounds. It was better to make a new life in a new land. By God’s providence, we were privileged in a small way to help make that happen.
To be continued.....