Growing Up

I was like a child two weeks ago. I have literally learned so much being in Petrinja with Maja that I feel like two weeks ago I was a child. From cultural differences to deep roots of brokenness, I have witnessed Croatia in a completely different way then when I was here with Americans. My time in Croatia has been full of adventures. Some disappointing, some extremely encouraging, let me tell you about them.

Last week I met some sweet girls from Sisak, Croatia named Ellen and Renata. These girls have been such an encouragement and answer to prayer. They have absolutely no idea how much they mean to me. Just the fact that they simply exist has brought me so much joy. They are Christians that live in Sisak. They share my excitement and enthusiasm for starting a youth group in Sisak. From spending time with them I see that they have a heart after God and they genuinely want to see a change take place. They are willing and ready to help and I cannot wait to see what God does through us. We have already begun dreaming about what ministry will look like.

On Saturday we had a special youth meeting with the Petrinja church. We called it Taco and Bible Study night. Maja and I hosted a group of teenagers at our house. I invited all the people I know from Sisak. Maja and I spent all day cleaning, decorating, shopping for supplies, and cooking. As the event got closer, I got more and more excited. I was looking forward to having my Sisak friends join for church for the first time. I was counting on them being there as they told me they would come. However on my way to Sisak to meet my friends to bring them back, everyone slowly cancelled. While I rode a bus towards Sisak feeling very disappointed, the song “Our God” by Christ Tomlin came on through my headphones.

“Our God is greater, Our God is stronger, God you are higher than any other. Our God is healer, awesome in power, Our God.”

Again, God used a song to speak to me. My disappointment was matched by Gods gentle encouragement. I overcome with the realization that Satan hates Sisak. He wants the people there to stay in the darkness that they are in. He absolutely hates the fact that I am here trying to start something in Sisak. He will create every kind of distraction to keep people from coming to Bible study.

“And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us? And if Our God is with us, then what could stand against?”

Satan will be defeated. Our God is for us, nothing will stand against us. The youth group will come. It may take time, and it will definitely require perseverance, but nothing can stop it. God has prepared this time for Sisak. Things are beginning to move into place and I am constantly receiving confirmations of my call to Sisak.

As I stepped off the bus, prepared to see nobody waiting for me at the bus stop, there stood my friends Ellen and Renata. Being able to talk to them on the way back to Petrinja for Bible study was the most encouraging thing and I am confident that God put these girls in Sisak just for me.

The Taco and Bible Study night went so great, even without the new Sisak people. During the discussion however I was very discouraged, not because the Sisak people didn’t come, but because of the language barrier. I have recently been very discouraged by this essential part of living in Croatia. I am a people person, and this people person can’t effectively communicate with people! It is very very frustrating. While I am allowing my frustration to motivate learning, it is not at the rate that I want. I want to be able to sit in church and understand what is being said. I want to be able to sit and talk with Maja’s 92 year old grandmother. I want to be able to console to a hurting teen who needs a friend. I feel so useless. During the Bible study these feelings overwhelmed me and I was so upset. After the Bible study, Maja and I sat and talked. I told her about my feelings of uselessness and purposelessness. She quickly reminded me that I have been doing a lot, and even though it is not helping in the ways I want, it is still making a difference. Although I am still disappointed about my lack of understanding, her words did offer me a bit of comfort. Maybe I cannot minister in the way I was expecting, but I can still make an impact.

 

I need prayer y’all. So much prayer. Here’s a “short” list of the many things I need prayer for.

  1. Language- please pray that God would expand my mind to be able to understand the language quickly and fluently so that my ministry can flourish.
  2. Sisak- there are so many problems in Sisak. I cannot even begin to explain all the issues. So please just pray for Sisak, open doors, changed hearts, and open minds.
  3. Maja-we are busy getting ready for 3 different VBS programs that will take place in 3 different cities all around Croatia. Unfortunately, Satan has been attacking our volunteers and we are currently loosing people left and right. Please pray for peace and people. Also thank God that he brought Maja into my life. She has taught me so much and has been a friend to laugh and cry with.
  4. Rest and growth-please pray for me as I battle with growing with the Lord. I am constantly in church, but I am not learning as much as I want because of the language barriers. Please pray that I would get rest while seeking him in ways other than church.
  5. School-yes yes, I know it is summer for most, but my school program goes year round. That means that I will have to work exceedingly hard to be several weeks ahead when I have busy weeks with VBS or no wifi.
  6. Komarac (AKA Mosquitos)-there is a ridiculous amount of mosquitos in Croatia at the moment, and I would really like them to go away. I’m getting eaten alive.

 

If I have learned anything over the past few weeks, it is that doing ministry in Sisak will not be easy. Literally everything is against us, but we have a God that is for us and that is all that matters. He will be there for us, even in the hard times.

“And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us? And if Our God is with us, then what could stand against?”

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