Monday marked the start of our class on Sanctification at the Mostar Bible School. Mark Shady, the school director, was hopeful that we would have some students come on campus just for the week long module, but as this did not occur we are proceeding with the three students who are currently full-time students. You can be praying for Arnes, Mickey, and Aldin, the three young men pictured here.
Class went well the first day. Following class, Mark and Vivianne Shady had us up to their home in West Mostar for dinner. There, we were joined by Pastor Carmello, who has led the West Mostar Church since 1994. He grew up in Croatia, but felt called by God during the war to come here. He is a fascinating, humble man. He maintains over 130 hives of honeybees as a way of supporting himself. Be praying for his wife who is in the hospital recovering this week from the removal of a tumor.
We received this report from the other half of our team back in Sarajevo:
This morning the three of us started the day at a wonderful prayer meeting at Ilidza Church with Elder Zeljko, his wife Vojka and two others from The church-owned second-hand stores. After a short devotional about the one leper out of the ten coming back to thank Jesus for healing him, we had a great bilingual discussion about giving and receiving thanks and encouragement. We talked about the differences between American and Bosnian cultures. It was encouraging to us to learn that they admired our openness in expressing our gratitude to others.
We spent the rest of the morning helping Vojka's volunteers sort bags and bags and bags of clothing,getting them ready for sale at the two secondhand stores. They didn't entrust us with the breakable household items, saving that fun for themselves. Each time something was accidentally broken, they broke into song.
We spent the rest of the afternoon at Izvor. June helped out in the office and Sue sat in on an English one-on-one. Marian had coffee with a friend at the Bill Gates Cafe, which ironically does not have Internet.
Thanks June Hoover for keeping us posted on Sarajevo!
After our second day of class here in Mostar, we went up to visit this huge cross that sits atop the hillside near Mostar. It was from this position that the Croatian army, under the sign of the cross, bombed the Bosniak (muslim) east side of the river. As you can imagine, the city is still very divided, and the cross is a very misunderstood sign. For the Catholic Croatians, it is a defiant sign of their culture against the spires of the mosques. For the Bosniaks, it serves as a constant reminder of the hate and injustice fired on them which took the lives of so many they knew and loved.
We took some time from this vantage point to pray that God would transform the meaning of the cross for them from a sign of hate and war to its true meaning of love, forgiveness and sacrifice.How do you talk about Jesus when this gigantic reminder of war is what they see hovering over their city day after day? This is the challenge for the church here- roughly 100 people in a city of 120,000. Only the power of God can transform hearts. Pray that He would do new things in this city!