Late evening in Prokuplje, Serbia. We gathered at dusk to pray over the city. Roma, Serb, and American — all praying that God would send the harvest in His time. Trusting that we could rest in His word that he would do just that. We know we can trust Him because He has been faithful in the past. Two years ago, we prayed for God to send His workers to His harvest. That night, He sent Ivan. This week, we saw a thriving church of over 60 people, and over 100 coming to hear the gospel. Now we pray for renewed harvest in Prokuplje.
After a lengthy time in prayer, we headed to Marijan and Caca’s home for dinner together. Produce from her garden (those tiny white peppers are SUPER hot!) and a special cold coffee treat started out our time together. We ended our night together in prayer. Tears, songs, and deepening friendship. It was a night to remember.
The next morning. Well, can you guess? We had a morning full of discipleship teaching from Multiply. We went over familiar ground, stressing the importance of Studying the Bible Prayerfully and Obediently, and Studying the Bible Logically. We gathered in the small Evandjeoska Crkva (Evangelical Church) in Prokuplje with our team members and the leadership team from Prokuplje — Marijan, David, Niki, Pera, Vlada and Andrija.
Andrija is a young man now — when did that happen?
We had lunch together (Caca’s famous stuffed peppers), then headed to our flat to rest during the heat of the day. Our flat is used during the school term to house high school students who come in from outlying villages to attend school. We rent rooms in the summer and stay in a home environment at a very economical price.
As dusk again approaches, we set out to visit three villages — Toponica, Dubovo, and Jasenica.
First stop, Toponica, where we visit Velja, Malina, Nikola, Snajka, and little Zoki. We sang a song and Janice shared scripture about trusting God for the harvest. Then we prayed together. After prayer, Velja shared with us that little Zoki had heart problems, so we prayed for him, as well.
Then we headed to Dubovo, where we only intended to have a quick visit, because we still planned to go to Jasenica (where the greenhouse project is still in operation), then back to the church for the men to all have time together.
Plans don’t always go the way we intend. As we were wrapping up our short time together, a battered car slowly crept up the dirt lane. It was unexpected guests from Jasenica. As the two men, two women, and several children climbed out of the car, we looked over the newcomers. It looked like trouble had arrived. The first man out of the car had the most bitter, hard, cynical look on his face you can imagine. He wasn’t a young man, and time had not been kind to him. His life had clearly been hard. He sounded confrontational when he told us he believed there was a God out there somewhere, but that was all.
Sasa, whose house the home church meets at, asked us to sing another song. As we sang a song in the Roma language about the hurt we hide inside and how Jesus is the only one who can really heal that hurt, the man’s demeanor softened. Marijan began to talk to him, telling him about his own difficult upbringing. He talked about difficulties that many of the Roma share, then he explained how God loved us so much He sent his only Son to take the punishment of our sins. Rising from the dead, he conquered sin and made a way for us to be seen as holy, if we will accept that gift of grace. Marijan calmly asked the man if he would like to pray a prayer of repentance, and he did. There, on the crude, roughly built porch of the tiny house in Dubovo, Serbia, that man and one other became believers in Christ.
We’ll have to make it to Jasenica on our next visit. Marijan will visit them soon, and when he does, he will call these two men who also live in Jasenica and they will gather together with the home church there. We obviously had an answer to our prayer from the day before. His harvest in His time.
After that full day, we came back to the flat and packed to start our long journey home. We arrived in Belgrade late this afternoon. We had a late lunch/dinner then walked around a bit in Zemun, which is a town that adjoins Belgrade. We saw a beautiful Catholic church in a large city square, then walked along the Danube.
Our plane leaves at 6:00 a.m., which means arrival at the airport at 4:00 a.m., which means . . . well, very little sleep. Pray for our return journey. It always leaves us feeling a bit like this street art we saw during our walk this afternoon.