Saturday, 13 April 2013

Kragujevac and a Men's Breakfast

Yesterday, Friday, Lee and I travelled with Vlada to Kragujevac which is in central Serbia, right in the heart of the nation.  It is the fourth largest city in Serbia and is well known for two events.  It was occupied by the Germans in WW2 in April 1941.  The local communist party decided to start an uprising against this. As a reprisal the Germans in 2 days shot more than 7,000 men including many boys.  There is a memorial to this event that we saw.

Then in April 1999 during the troubles here NATO bombed the Zastava car factory destroying it totally. 38,000 people lost their jobs overnight.  You can imagine the financial impact that had.  Now just recently Fiat have taken over the factory, but if you would like an old Zastava or Yugo car or spare parts, this is the place to be.  The streets are full of them.

We met with Ivan and Adriana in their home. Ivan is a former drug addict who gave his life to Jesus six years ago. He now runs a half way house helping drug users seek help from their addiction. He also runs a second hand clothes shop. Anything with English things on,  Union flag, names of music groups, etc. sells straightaway he says.  Adriana works at the Fiat factory. Together they gather people in their house and just recently nine people have their lives over to Jesus.  We talked together and prayed that God move more powerfully in this large city, said our farewells and headed for home.

Then this morning, we were up and about ready for the men's breakfast at 9.30.  An ample supply of bacon rolls was provided washed down with thin yoghurt to drink.  We worshipped, many of the songs we knew, and then Lee spoke really well about taking risks for Jesus.  He brought his talk alive telling us of the first time he made a bungee jump.  Definitely not for the feint hearted! Then we prayed for the guys, asking God they would be risk takers and bringing encouraging prophetic words to them.  We finished just after 12 and then it was time for us to walk into the centre of Niš and sit and have a coffee.

One thing I wanted Lee to see was the inside of an Orthodox Church. So we went to the local church.If you  have never been inside one it is an experience.  It is very brightly decorated with the paintings in a set style of Jesus, the disciples, events from the New Testament but also with Mary and her baby son and many, many saints.  There are no seats. You stand. People come and go all the time lighting candles, bowing low to the many icons and kissing them.  The Orthodox Church is tied to the State, so though few people go to church, the church receives money from the State and can therefore afford fine buildings etc.  To change from the Orthodox faith is seen as a denial of your nationhood, that you no longer wish to be Serb or Greek or whatever and you are in many cases made outcast from your family. This is the battle the local church has here in seeing people becoming added to them.

With a team from the Czech Republic having arrived this morning (they drove all the way in a minibus for 12 hours) we have vacated our room at the church building and are now installed in a small hotel for 2 nights.  Tomorrow I speak in the morning and we will have our last meeting with the
leaders so that on Monday we are ready to go south to Skopje, Macedonia.  There we meet Sasha and Marija and are ready for the next part of our journey.

Our love from Lee and me.

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