Novi Sad mission – Final Report

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Our final report on the Novi Sad mission week is written by Marko, a staff worker with EUS, the Christian student group in Novi Sad:

Novi Sad is the second largest University city in Serbia, located just 80 km from Belgrade, the capital. This was the first ever mission week in Novi Sad – there were single day events before, but never a 4 day long mission. Most of the students in EUS are 2nd, 3rd or even 4th generation Christians and they grew up in the 90s when protestant Christians were considered a sects. So many of them had never shared their faith publicly and they were scared to talk about Jesus.

The University is very secular; most of the professors are atheists, and any topic mentioning God is forbidden. We even had a lot of problems recently organising a lecture by Prof. John Lennox who is well known speaker.

Events and Speakers
We rented a coffee shop not far from campus which is very famous in the city for the rock concerts that are organised there. The main topic of the week was “Discover! What kind of God?” based on Michael Ots’ book. Every evening we had a different topic from the book and Michael Ots did 3 talks on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday we had Dr Michael Green presenting his new book “Jesus for Skeptics,” and he gave a talk on the topic “What kind of God allows suffering?”

During the day, we had a stand on campus offering students free coffee and tea, doing questionnaires and inviting people to the evening events. We did this every day (except for last day because of heavy rain so we just did flyering that day).
Also, Michael Ots gave 2 lectures in the Philosophy department on Tuesday on the topic, “Is faith rational?”
The response was great for our context. There were many great conversations in campus. There was a great atmosphere at the stand, lots of coffees given out, and many people got to know about EUS and our activities.

The lectures at the University by Michael Ots were fantastic. About 30 students were there and the questions were amazing. Later, many students wanted books and got interested in this topic. 

The evening programme was also great. The first night was a little bit disappointing. Not many people came from campus – most of the people were Christians and the only others were those that we already know well. The group was discouraged, including me – we made so much effort with marketing and nobody new showed up! But the next morning Michael reminded us of how it was in Novi Sad 5 years ago when he was here for the first time, and that many people told him that missions in Novi Sad are impossible. He was the only one encouraged by what he saw the day before. So after morning prayer and encouragement from Michael and some students we went to campus again and gave our best to promote the evening events with coffee and questions. Many people were interested and more open than the day before. That night the number of people was the same, but the number of Christians decreased and the number of guests increased! It was an amazing evening!

One student who came for the first time loved Michael’s speech. Afterwards he spoke with Michael and prayed with him. He read both of Michaels books in 2 days and what is more important, excepted Jesus Christ as his personal saviour. He kept coming every day, and on the last day he brought his sister who gave him a flier in first place! What an encouragement! I spoke to him today and he is smiling all the time – you can easily see that something in him has changed. So I am looking forward to spending time with him and doing follow up. Please pray for him that he continues to grow in Jesus.

On Wednesday heavy rain started in Serbia and it is still constantly raining after more than 48 hours. The rain caused flooding, and some people even died. Schools are cancelled, many people are without electricity and it is an emergency situation for the whole county. Despite this, we went on campus again and gave coffees to people. That night when we came to the cafe, the street was almost completely flooded and cars couldn’t go into the street. There was a huge amount of water between the car parking and the cafe. We didn’t expect anybody to show up, but we were wrong – even more guests came and fewer Christians! Michael gave a great speech and a good introduction for Michael Green.

On the last day we didn’t go to campus to have a stand, so instead some students went just to give out the rest of the fliers. Weather conditions were so bad that it was impossible to have a stand. We had a long prayer meeting, and a time of fellowship and summarizing our impressions even though we had one more evening meeting. The students were amazed with what God was doing this week. They were naming friends and other students who they met during flyering or at the evening meetings and sharing stories of what they experienced with them. For example, one guy who worked in the coffee shop said he had never experienced such nice and positive people.

Last night Michael Green spoke on the very hard question of suffering, especially in Serbia where people have suffered a lot in last 2 decades. This topic is always “hot” for students in Serbia – there is always good attendance and lots of questions. Many guests came despite the floods and constant rain. The evening was amazing. After the speech there were loads of questions as expected, and after the questions Michael Green gave a challenge to people with two questions. The response was amazing. Many people came to me and asked for a YES booklet, which was for people who want to commit their lives to Christ. One student who has been to many EUS events came and asked for a booklet in tears. It was amazing to see what the Holy Spirit was doing in people’s hearts. 

So, please pray for us in Novi Sad. For new contacts, for good follow up and hopefully for a new Bible study group. We have a lot of work to do now. 
Pray also for weather conditions in Serbia as the situation is getting worse. 
Pray for Christian students to continue their good work and to follow up their friends. 
And pray for EUS in Novi Sad as we need to find a new place for meetings next semester.

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Marko, an excellent report. Thank you. Wonderful to hear from a local of the impact on you and others.
May this time have given the Christians and the new Christians confidence that the good news is the best news of all and people need (and want) to hear it.

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