During the time when the former Yugoslavia was breaking up into independent nations, a 17-year-old Serbian named Ivica Stamenkovic found a piece of gospel literature on his way home from school.
He had not grown up in a Christian home but, as he read the life-changing words, his eyes were opened and he responded to the Lord in faith. Very soon he felt called to serve the Lord in ministry.
His part of the world saw war after war through the 1990s, ending with the Kosovo War that brought in NATO forces. In the midst of all this, Ivica was able to go to Bible school and become a pastor. Today he serves as EHC’s National Director in Serbia.
In Serbia and neighbouring Macedonia, independence did not improve the lives of people in rural areas. They remain extremely impoverished and fearful of what the future may hold. They cannot afford to rebuild their homes even though they are ravaged by the effects of war and are often unsafe. They can barely affordfood to feed their children.
When Ivica and his teams of local church volunteers recently visited 20 villages to spread seeds of the Gospel, they added a special gift. “In their area, people can’t even buy seeds for their gardens,” he shares. “Along with the gospel literature, we gave them packets of vegetable seeds and they were very happy.”
And the seed of the Gospel has already sprouted new life. In a separate outreach to six villages where 10,000 gospel messages were presented, the Lord ministered to people’s hearts and 50 responded. The volunteer team immediately invited each person to become a part of a discipleship group, helping to grow their faith. Ivica says, “We’re very glad the Word of God was sown in these small places.”
Across the border in Macedonia, EHC’s long-time National Director Bore Blazhevski and his teams also gave out gospel messages with vegetable seeds in the local markets on days when people came in from the countryside.
“The people were very friendly,” he reports. “We could freely share the Gospel.” Local church volunteers were encouraged to continue the distribution of gospel messages and keep visiting people in their homes, providing follow-up.
After EHC volunteers visited the battle-scarred northern border town of Tetovo, they reported: “We have many reasons to thank and to praise God! We had a wonderful time distributing literature and seed packets… All gladly received our gifts, both Albanians
and Macedonians.” Albanians, who are mostly Muslim, represent about a third of Macedonia’s population.
In another outreach, a team of six EHC volunteers visited five partially abandoned villages in the desolate Mariovo area of south-central Macedonia.
As they went from home to home, giving out gospel messages along with pasta, oil, sugar, soap and towels, provided by a Swiss donor, people happily welcomed them into their houses.