Today I am on my way with Lee Layton-Matthews, one of our pastors, to Beograd, the capital of Serbia. I have been to Serbia just once before in April last year with Ann. This led to me be asked to return and spend a week here. Today should be a simple matter of getting there and finding our accommodation. Tomorrow we will be met by Vlada who with his English wife Sonja, run a church in Nis in the south of Serbia.
Just a bit of history. Serbia is the part that is left of what was Yugoslavia. As soon as communism fell, then Yugoslavia which had been a federation, quickly split into its separate parts. Slovenia, now part of the EU, broke away, then Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Bosnia Herzegovina and lastly Kosovo, leaving Serbia.
The country is landlocked but has the river Danube run through the capital Beograd (Belgrade) on its way to the Black Sea. The main tourist image and attraction in Belgrade is the Orthodox Church of St Sava, pictured above. It is the largest Orthodox Church in the Balkans and holds 10,400 people. Though you stand up in Orthodox services and are not seated! It overlooks the whole city.
Serbia is the only European country which officially has two alphabets the Latin one we write in, and the Cyrillic. Niš where we will stay has a population of about 183,000 and we will be going also to Kragujevac with 150,000, the 3rd and 4th largest Serbian cities. The population is 90% Orthodox. So building a non-Orthodox church is a huge challenge. I look forward to the challenges that lie ahead.
Please pray for us both. This is the first time Lee will have been to Serbia, to a Slav country, and to an Orthodox country that has a distinct Christian heritage differnt from anything he will have encountered before.