Hope for the Hopeless
In 1984, Bosnia-Herzegovina hosted Winter Olympic Games. Eight years later the country was devastated in a war. The Olympic stadium became a graveyard, whole villages were burnt down and huge areas were made full of landmines. The war ended in 1995 and people sighed with relief: the worst was over, they survived and soon life would be good again. Now, over twenty years later, the economy of the country is still in ruins. Unemployment and corruption are growing and people are getting more hopeless than ever before.
In the midst of it all, young evangelical churches are spreading the Gospel of Hope. Before the war, there were three evangelical churches in the whole country. Now there are altogether about 25-30 small fellowships. Most of the current pastors and workers found the Lord of Hope at the end of the war and now they are committed to help their people come to know Him too.
OM started working in Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) in 1998. We have two teams: in the capital Sarajevo and in Bihać (a mostly Muslim town in the north-western part of BiH). Our passion is to strengthen, support and motivate the local churches in their ministry. We do it through:
- Building relationships with local people: the best talks happen one-on-one over coffee! Whether it is kindling interest in spiritual matters or having a deeper Bible-study with a believer, the best setting for both is at people´s homes, with a cup of coffee.
- Special projects: we have short-term projects to meet specific needs. At the beginning of a school year we hand out schoolbags and help highschoolers to buy textbooks; the Christmas-season brings food packages and gifts for children.
- Offering short-term missions opportunities: every year we host teams that join us for a couple of weeks. They help us do things that we cannot do alone: run special programmes for children, finish a bigger practical work project, offer courses and free time activities. For example, the Sarajevo-team has been running a snowboarding-school with short-term teams for the last four years and the Bihać-team has had people doing open-air-concerts!
- Encouraging locals to get involved in missions: as much as possible, we try to get local believers to attend Christian conferences outside of their own country (like TeenStreet) and offer them opportunities to join us for short trips to serve in another place. Some locals have come with us to help the refugees, others have joined us for kids’ programmes and youth activities.
- Literature: we believe in the value of good books! Together with our partners in OM EAST, OM Bosnia has helped to get many books published in the local language and oversees the distribution of them.
How you can get involved?
- Pray for our teams. Both teams are small in numbers, but there is so much to do. Pray that each of us will keep our focus on God, listen to and obey His guidelines- instead of being led by agendas, needs and pressure.
- Pray for local churches. Pray for a generation of new workers to grow in their faith and find their place in ministry. Pray that God would encourage and strengthen the current leaders.
- Pray for the economy of the country. Pray that new work places would open up, industry would develop and corruption would stop. It is hard to focus on spiritual needs if your stomach is empty and house is cold...
More information about Bosnia-Herzegovina
Geographic location: on the Balkan peninsula, in Southern Europe, bordered by Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro.
Population: About 4 million
Ethnic groups (2013 estimates): Bosniaks (48,4%), Serbs (32,7%), Croats (14,6%), other (4,3%).
Major religions: Islam (Bosniaks), Orthodoxy (Serbs) and Catholicism (Croats)
Political situation: Bosnia-Herzegovina is divided into two entities, the Serbian Republic (49% of the territory) and the Muslim-Croat Federation (51% of the territory), with its capital in Sarajevo. It is the only country in the world that is led by five presidents at the same time: a three-fold presidency (a Serb, a Croat and a Bosniak) at the top of the country, plus a president of the Federation and the president of the Serbian Republic (not to be confused with the Republic of Serbia which is another country). Confusing? Yes, and that is only the top level of it.