Rodoljub and Natasa Orescanin
I am National director of Linking Partners Ministry in Serbia, and my role is to coordinate church planters among the Roma population. I provide workshops, where we discuss the topic of planting new churches in unreached areas of the Roma population. I oversee three leaders that are each responsible for different regions in Serbia. We cover North, Central and South Serbia and I visit them regularly and work not only with them but with leaders that are under them, and prepare them to start their home churches by themselves. In providing finances for them we have a project called “Teach a Man to Fish” where we are helping their church members to start their own businesses. So far we have enabled new home church members to start businesses with greenhouses, a small farm of goats, and a resale business.
My walk with Christ began in 1994. I was 18 years old when I made the decision to follow Jesus. Although I was raised in a communist country, my grandmother told me how to pray in my childhood. I was in my teenage years and seeking for meaning and purpose in my life, I tried to visit the Orthodox Church from time to time but since their church services are not in Serbian but in the old Slavic language, I didn’t understand much. My first steps in a deeper understanding of God and the Bible happened when I was walking by the river Danube and I found a book from Billy Graham, Peace with God. I was then 16 years old and had a real hunger for knowing God. I was desperate to find a group of people who believed in God in the same way I found in Graham’s book and was reading this book like a Bible since I did not have a Bible. Two years later, God answered my prayers because I met an old friend I had not seen in a long time. It was 3 pm when I realized that he believed in God and was going to an evangelical church and I didn’t let him go until 3 am. He led me to make a decision to follow Jesus and I realized that at that moment I was born again. I found a young group of people in a protestant church that I didn’t know existed in my city. I was part of a group as well of IFS students in university where I studied. My life finally was filled with peace and joy and I became a committed disciple of Jesus. In 1998 I became a youth pastor of an evangelical church in Novi Sad. That is where I met the founder of Linking Partners, and led to my role in working as National Director.
Don & Joanie Weese, Jerry & Ruth Hill
Other early supporters include the late Don Weese and his wife Joanie, and Jerry and Ruth Hill. Both men traveled to Serbia to assess needs and provide encouragement. Don was a significant donor to the ministry in its early days, which has lead to many coming to follow Jesus Christ, many baptisms, many home churches. Jerry is a Bible scholar. His teaching, early in the ministry, help shape and clarify the work of Linking Partners. He also abridged the book we use as the basis of our training, Multiply. This book was then translated into Serbian and has been an irreplaceable asset to the ministry. Both of these families have been important in the growth of Linking Partners.
Ed & LaJuana Oswalt
The daughter of Linking Partners’ founder, James Greene, LaJuana and her husband Ed, as well as each of their three children have been active in the Linking Partners ministry in Serbia. LaJuana brings management experience in the non-profit field, as well as experience teaching discipleship through the use of the book Multiply by Francis Chan and Mark Beuving, forward by David Platt. Ed’s near 30 years experience as a critical care RN and emergency response manager gives us insight to some of the underlying health problems that plague the Roma community. They still participate in Linking Partners work, both in the USA and Serbia. However, modeling what we teach, they are handing off day-to-day work to their daughter and son-in-law, Coty and Meghan Skinner.