‘The search’ Mission, Novi Sad, Serbia

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The History

It is always a joy to go back to Novi Sad!  Serbia was one of the first countries I visited after the start of the FEUER network eight years ago, and Novi Sad was the first city that I went to.  How things have changed in that time!  On my first visit I met with three students and the then-Staff Worker, who told me that a mission week would never work in the city; she said they couldn’t get public venues and that no one would come, even if they could!  How encouraging, then, that this was now the third annual mission in the city, and the most fruitful yet!  In fact, I have rarely seen such a high proportion of guests at events anywhere.

In the intervening eight years we have worked with the excellent Serbian IFES movement (EUS), and invested in a number of their staff and students, bringing them to missions and conferences in the UK.  We helped them to set up one-off evangelistic events there at first, and then full mission weeks.

 

The Plan

Though this was our third mission week in the city, it was the first time we had run it for a full five days.  In the absence of a suitable lunch-time venue we spent the days in the centre of the university campus doing questionnaires, handing out flyers and inviting people for tea and coffee.  Live music and great weather created a warm and welcoming atmosphere; lots of people stopped by, and long conversations ensued. Many came back to the events as a result.

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Another great form of advertising for the mission was a very large event held on the Monday with the motivational speaker Nik Vujic.  Nik’s Serbian ancestors, and his story of hope in adversity and suffering, connected powerfully and interested many – about 6,000 came to the event, held in the sports arena.  The event itself was not evangelistic, but a video advertising the mission was played, and a few thousand flyers were distributed to those who came.  While we didn’t see as many people coming through this route as we had expected, there was still a good number who did come as a result.

 

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The main evening events were held in a privately-owned cafe in the centre of the university.  The positive relationship with the owners has been invaluable, as it is not possible to obtain university rooms for Christian events.  After live music and free drinks each night we looked at a different theme and intermixed the talks with our music and drama.

The Response

Numbers at the events grew steadily through the week, until we were overflowing our part of the cafe with about 100 students.  These were the biggest explicitly evangelistic events that EUS has ever seen!  In previous years the numbers coming have been inflated by local Christians (not students) who came to listen too, but this year they obviously realised that they have heard most of my talks before!  This meant that at least half of those coming were not yet Christians.

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At the end of each event, serious conversations continued around the tables for well over an hour. Many came back to each event, and some seem to have started following Christ and have got hooked into the group.  Many others were intrigued and took away books and bibles (a new Serbian edition has just been released, which means that they now have a readable and accurate version in their own language).  An Alpha Course starts on Monday in the same venue, and many have indicated that they want to attend.  Do pray they would!

The Team

A real highlight of the mission this year was the opportunity to bring all six Relay workers from the UCCF London team.  I was deeply impressed by their energy, enthusiasm and willingness to serve.  They generated interest (Novi Sad University doesn’t get many English students!) and were superb at following up those who came to the events, with personal conversations and impromptu one-to-one bible studies.  The London UCCF region is linked with the Serbian movement, so it was a great way to further strengthen the partnership, which has been mutually beneficial.  The Serbian movement benefitted from the added support of an outside team – but the team also grew massively in their experience of mission and evangelism, and returned buzzing with enthusiasm.  At the very least, such opportunities will lead them to have more of a prayerful interest in the work of IFES internationally.  It would be great to see this happen more often!

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2 comments

Filip

It’s always a blessing having you guys here! The team was so encouraging! Looking forward to the next year!

Christine

very encouraging. God can do miracles.

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