The House Interviews Todd and Karen Dinius, Bosnia
Would you share a little about your backgrounds?
Todd grew up on a farm in north central Indiana and graduated from Purdue University with a B.S. and M.S. in Business Management. He later received a M.S. in Intercultural Leadership Studies from Crown College through their on-line degree program. Karen grew up in a small town in southeastern Pennsylvania and graduated from Penn State University with a B.S. in Horticulture. We met in a C&MA church in West Lafayette, Indiana in 2001 while Karen was working with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Purdue and Todd was active in leadership at the church. We have three children: Bethany (6), Joshua (4 ½) and Kaitlyn (2 ½).
How did you come to know Jesus? What does that journey look like?
I (Karen) was introduced to the Lord through a friend in middle school. She invited me to her church and retreats and my interest grew through attending these events. I was struggling with some difficult relationships at that time, and I began reading through the Scriptures. I began to see the hope and life that God wanted to offer me through Christ and I was drawn to Him. I received the Lord in seventh grade and He has changed me in significant ways! I went from being hopeless to being filled with true hope and life. He changed the direction my life was going in and continues to draw me closer and closer to Him.
I (Todd) grew up in a Christian home and accepted Jesus as Lord at an early age. Though my family’s church was non-evangelical, I grew steadily in faith. In college I was very active in The Navigators collegiate ministry and grew tremendously in spiritual disciplines, in relationship with Christ, and in heart for ministry. By the time I finished college I felt a call to full-time Christian ministry and advancement of Christ’s kingdom throughout the world.
What drew you to Bosnia? What has been encouraging? What has been difficult?
I (Todd) served one-year on a team in Sophia, Bulgaria with The Navigators as part of the CoMission Project. During that time my heart was burdened for the people of Eastern Europe. So when the C&MA entered Bosnia in 1998 I began to regularly pray and follow the team’s ministry there. God’s call to us to be servants and ministers to the Bosnian people has kept us there. We had a challenging first term, but God was so faithful and good to us amidst the challenges we faced as a family. We have been encouraged by the relationships that God has blessed us with and this has given us much motivation and strength to press on and persevere in serving there. We have relationships with several non-believers and feel like the Lord has given us many opportunities to share His love with them through our words and actions. We have faced a lot of difficulties in learning the language, adjusting to a new culture, significant health concerns, and some challenging relationships with people back in the States which we have had to navigate through.
What do you enjoy about Bosnian culture? The people?
The culture has a lot of depth and history which makes it very rich. The culture reflects the influence of various people groups because of its long and diverse history including years under Ottoman (Turkish) rule, Austro-Hungarian rule, and Communist rule. It is a place where East meets West and thus (where) several religious groups including Islam, Orthodoxy, and Catholicism express their faith and culture.
We also appreciate the Bosnians’ generous hospitality and love for children.
How does partnership with various church fellowships enhance your vision for Bosnia? How does it help in ministry?
Our partnership churches have been a tremendous encouragement to our team in Bosnia Herzegovina. Their prayers, financial support, communication, and visits have a very real impact upon our ministry. They enable us to undertake ministry efforts that we otherwise would be unable to do on our own. And their ideas, perspective, and prayers help to enlarge our vision for what God can and will do among these people He dearly loves.
When do you return to Bosnia? (If your children are in school, how does that work in Bosnia?)
We plan to return at the end of June 2014. Bethany will attend a public Bosnian Catholic school for 2nd grade and Joshua will attend a Bosnian private kindergarten. We are having our children attend the public school system as long as it is a good fit for them.
How can we pray for you? For your family? For the ministry? For Bosnia?
▪ Health and healing for Todd (headaches, seizures) and Joshua (allergies, chronic ear infections).
▪ Strength and grace for this time while Todd is away on tour.
▪ Spiritual and emotional renewal for us during this year in the States.
▪ Spiritual conversations and relational growth with our friends and clients at The Source.
▪ Salvation of all of our non-believing friends, particularly Lily* who is actively seeking and
going to church, and Victoria* who is employed at The Source. (*names changed for privacy)
▪ For God to reveal Himself to the Bosnian people through healing (spiritual, physical, emotional).
▪ A renewed vision for mission and outreach within the Bosnian national church.