Thankful to Serve

Over the last month, something strange has been happening in Bosnia-Hercegovina (BiH). For the first time since the war, the people of BiH have been united for one purpose-to see their football team (soccer for the Americans) make it in to the World Cup Finals. One of my friends who admits he has never been patriotic or even really loved his country-at least the one they’ve been left with after the separation of Yugoslavia and the war-said that yesterday tears came to his eyes as he listened to the well-wishers from Split, Belgrade, and Osijek call in to a local radio station. He said that for just a moment, he was reminded, what it could mean for the people of BiH and the Balkans to be united. 

An Elusive Dream

It was true; there was an excitement in the whole country, a hope that they could accomplish something. Most people were choosing, even if just for one day, to forget which “nation” they belonged to and to come together to see the BiH football team, with members from all three ethnic groups, gain a victory. Unfortunately, the BiH team did not defeat Portugal and the dream is now gone. The people of BiH have returned to their “corners,” and life will continue with the  frustration of everyone going nowhere-together yet divided.  It is a very sad day in BiH.

This is the sad reality of life in Bosnia-Hercegovina, a country whose deep divisions were reinforced by the Dayton Peace Accord, which may have stopped the killing but not the war. Instead, the war continues to rage daily in the hearts of the people through subtle yet powerful differences in language; in the spelling of certain words in particular cafés in a particular part of town; in the offices of the triune presidency and parliament. 

It is these “little” things that never allow Bosnians and Hercegovinians to forget the war. It is all of this that makes so many of our believers unsure of who they should say they are. Who should they declare themselves to be as in the local census-are they Bosniak, Croat, Serb? They don’t identify with these groups in regard to faith anymore because of their choice to follow Christ, yet they must choose to belong to one of them. These are their only options. 

The Only Answer

The reality of the political and social situation in BiH is often disheartening and always overwhelming. There are no easy answers to these questions. Again, it all comes back to the only answer-Jesus.  As I watched the last seconds of the BiH-Portugal game tick away, I was struck again how fleeting hope without Jesus is. How impossible it is to find true love and unity without the power of Jesus’ blood and His Spirit, which lives in those of us who call Him Savior and Lord. In fact, it’s not even easy when we have all of that, but despite our fallen humanity, we are given hope and an identity in Christ that cannot be taken from us. 

This is the reason that my coworkers and I are here. This is the reason we continue to move forward with our outreach plans. This is the reason our new workers are spending two years in language study-to bring hope and a true identity to the people of BiH. God has given us the great privilege, in partnership with our BiH brothers and sisters, of bringing hope and healing to this broken land. Each of you is a partner in this as you diligently pray for and give to our ministry here through the Great Commission Fund and other approved special projects. For this I am abundantly blessed and thankful.

Thank you for building Christ’s Kingdom in Bosnia-Hercegovina,

Your fellow worker


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