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March 2024 Mission to Montenegro Newsletter

All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, And shall glorify Your name. For You are great, and do wondrous things;
You alone are God.

Ps. 86:9-10


Grace and peace to you in the name of God our Father!

Greetings to all! It has been a blessed month as we've welcomed both the return of spring and the arrival of the Henegars!  


In our Sunday morning service,  Stan preached from John 19, diving deep into those blood-bought-but-triumphant words of Jesus Christ our Savior:  It is finished!
 
In our evening services, we're back in the book of Revelation, looking at the opening verses of Ch. 15 which highlight the new song sung by the victorious: the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb, proclaiming the salvation, judgement, and praise of God.

  • Please pray for the ongoing ministry of the Word, for Stan and others who have the opportunity to share the God's Truths from the pulpit and in other settings.
  • Please for all who hear the Word, whether in person or online, that God would open hearts, eyes, and ears so that they may joyfully receive the Word, study it, and come to faith. 


Two highlights from the outreaches of the YWAM team from Norway (in late Feb): 

  • At the end of the week’s ministry, we were thrilled that three people from the local Roma community joined us for our morning worship service and then stayed for Fellowship Lunch, and then hung around after, asking many questions as they come from a Muslim background.


Fellowship Lunch with our new Roma Friends

  • The “practical ministries” team spruced up our two main meeting rooms with fresh paint, and thus spurred next steps to refurbishing the Sunday School room to better accommodate our growing numbers.  Martina diligently scouted out options and now Phase 2 is completed.  We have more that we want (and need) to improve but this is a GREAT first step!

Tables and chairs and shelves, oh my!
  • We give thanks and praise for all that God enabled the teams and volunteers to accomplish in their short time here.  God answered our prayers!
  • Please pray for those whose hearts were touched by God's Word and faithful actions,  that they would seek out the ongoing opportunities offered through church, EUS, and others to learn more and grow in faith and knowledge.  
 



Lucas, Faith, and baby Uriah
 
The Henegars arrived on Pi Day! With no delays and most of their luggage! ** 

They stayed with us their first few days as they sorted out jet lag, getting phone numbers, seeing and finalizing an apartment rental, and more.  They have now moved into their flat, have started language lessons, are finding out how (and where) to shop for household goods as well as food, and are faithfully attending services, both Sunday and midweek, plus other church events.

Thank you for your prayers on their behalf. Continue to lift the Henegars up, particularly for language learning; the grammar is a killer.

**The rest of the luggage safely arrived a couple of days later. PTL!
 

Finally, please pray for the regular ministries:  Sunday services, weekly prayer meeting, the monthly Ladies’ Brunch, the Food Pantry, plus all the EUS activities overseen by Danijel P.  Our desire is to be faithful; may God bring the increase! 

Pray, too, for the ongoing equipping of the saints to share their faith and for the special 5-week outreach event tentatively scheduled for September 2024.

 


We so appreciate your faithful prayers, your sacrificial support, your quick notes and cards, and the blessing of working together for God's name to be exalted here in Montenegro.  

One with you in Christ,

Stan and Vicki Surbatovich



Vicki's Snapshot: Back to the Beginning Part 2: Sunday Lunches

The last Snapshot gave a quick overview of the development of the ministry from home bible study to NK Bible Fellowship. Those first few years of Bible Study seeded a core group of local believers, and we were ready to take next steps.

We rented suitable facilities.  We met regularly on Sunday morning.  No longer “just” a prayer meeting or a bible study, we developed an order of service consisting of prayer, readings, singing, and preaching.

Truly, we saw how God has made everything beautiful and appropriate in its time.     For it was at this time (and no sooner), that we started having people reaching out to us about coming to help:  Kristina from Romania desiring to reach university students, Ryan and later Cameron from the States exploring missionary life, Dragan from Serbia eager to help a fledgling work, and many others over those early years.


       Dragan                           Kristina

If someone was planning to be in NK for more than a month or two, they were encouraged to find a small rental because we lived in cozy quarters at the time (seven people in 700 sq. feet).  Additionally, such an arrangement helped them see the realities of living the “missionary life” not only meeting, visiting, and sharing with others, but *also* needing to spend time and energy on daily necessities such as shopping, cooking, bill paying, cleaning—all of which doesn’t typically enter the picture on a 2-week Missions Trip.

Both to foster fellowship and because meal prepping in those early days was time-consuming as there was very (very) little choice of convenience foods at stores and very few fast food places in town, we would often have the helper over for lunch (the main meal of the day). This meant some joined us nearly every day for lunch, others twice a week, some for Friday Pizza, but everyone was *always* invited for lunch on Sunday.  Spending time and breaking bread together after the morning service delightfully set the Sabbath apart as a special day unto the Lord.

Along with any helper, we might invite another single or student or family to join us.  If we had unexpected guests show up, they’d be invited for lunch, too. And, while I cannot say we in Nikšić have lots of unexpected guests, we have far more than I ever dreamed we would considering our city is not any kind of special destination.

Nevertheless, out of all this, our family tradition of Sunday Lunch was born:  our family, expected guests, and an open invitation to any visitors to regularly enjoy lunch and fellowship after the morning service.

Now I know some of you are wondering, because you’ve asked, How do you plan and prepare for unknown numbers every week? 

As a general rule, I prepare for the known number (family and regulars) plus two. 

However! There have been times I’ve found myself grocery shopping and been inspired by a sudden whim and burst of energy to cook an extra pot roast or stew or lasagna thinking to stash the second one in the freezer.   More times than I can count, that would be the weekend a visiting family of 6 showed up unexpectedly at church.   What I destined for the freezer, God destined for that family.

Once, more than a dozen years ago, I broke my own rule about prepping for ‘expected number+2’ guests because:

1. It was a low-activity season and I didn’t really expect any extras,
2. We were about to leave on furlough, so
3. I was eking out what items we had, and
4. I didn’t want any leftovers because I had hopes of being able to leave the fridge cleaned, unplugged, and airing out while we were gone.  

Therefore, I planned a “just right" amount for Sunday lunch.

Of course, that morning I got a phone call from one of our regulars that two people, a brother and a sister, would be coming up from the coast late that morning but were planning to catch our evening service and would it be possible to invite them for lunch anyway?

"Absolutely!" I say as I decide that we can slice the bread thinner and serve smaller portions of meat and dessert.  

Then, 15 minutes before I’m expecting everyone to arrive and am putting final touches on the table and getting the serving dishes ready, I get another phone call.  Turns out that it wasn’t only a brother and sister, but parents and a friend, too, rolling into town.  Knowing that adding the two was going to be a stretch, our regular asks if they should stop and try to pick up some food somewhere, somehow.

I took a deep breath, thought for a moment, and realized:

1. There was nothing good they could pick up *and* be at our place in 15 minutes,
2. The stress of trying to do so would be unpleasant for everyone, and 
3. The most important part of Sunday Lunch isn’t the food but the fellowship.

So I told them to come on over, no worries.  Once off the phone, I immediately took a couple of bags of frozen veggies out of the freezer, nuked them with butter and seasonings, and voila!  An extra side dish.  The last of the apples and oranges on hand got sliced, arranged on a platter, garnished with toasted almonds and a sprinkling of cinnamon.  Voila!  Another but different side dish.

With a bit of fear and trembling on my part, all ten of us sat down to eat. While I was secretly wondering how to ensure that everyone got at least one serving of every dish, I watched in amazement as serving bowls were passed around and provided not only enough first servings, but also seconds and even some third helpings. 

Despite my repeated urges to "Take more!" (and being met with a chorus of "I can't, I'm full!"), I actually ended up with leftovers.  I remain fully convinced we experienced our own little Matthew 14 miracle that day; it was physically impossible for ten people to have had seconds and thirds from what was on the table.

Ever since our miracle lunch, I have never stressed about having enough food. I prayerfully make my plans, yes, but I *know* that God will ultimately provide for all whom He brings to our door and table.  What an awesome God! Soli Deo gloria!