Mission Report for Croatia

Michael writes:

‘This was the first university mission week in the city of Rijeka, Croatia. The IFES work in the country is small and as yet there is no local IFES group in the city so the mission was organised in partnership with a local Christian youth organisation – RiStream.

Rijeka is a large industrial city on the Northern Adriatic Coast not far from Slovenia and Italy. As a city it has a fascinating history – within the last 100 years is has been part of 6 different countries / empires. (Austro Hungarian, Italy, independent city state, Germany, Yugoslavia, Croatia). The university of 20,000 students was founded in the middle of last century but is now based in attractive new accommodation high on the hill overlooking the city.

 The format of the week was very simple. Days were spent inviting students at the university and engaging in conversations through question boards.  Each evening we held the events in the smoky basement club of a bar close to the university. After music and an icebreaker game I spoke and then had time for Q&A at the end.

 As expected the week wasn’t big – we only had a few students helping out and numbers each evening were quite small. There were always a handful of guests who came along though – mostly from the flyers and some came back. The organisers had also invited non-Christian musicians to play each evening so they also got to hear the talks! They also broadcast the evenings live on Facebook (a relatively simple thing to do) and up to 300 a night watched  – 10 times more than were actually at the venue!

 We found that students were generally very polite and few rejected the invitations we gave out but many are cynical about the church, having been put off by their experience growing up. Those who came though were very interested and several stayed to talk at length and were searching. Nearly everyone commented how they events were better and more interesting than they had expected. A thoughtful, engaged and contemporary presentation of Christianity was obviously not something many had encountered before.

On the whole it was a little disappointing that more didn’t engage with the week and probably highlights that we needed to do more to prepare the local group to make the most opportunity. Do pray for those who came though – that the interest would grow and there would be at least some lasting fruit.’

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