Mission to Montenegro newsletter

Blog entry for 19 March 2016

March 2016 Mission to Montenegro Newsletter

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, 
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son 
and of the Holy Spirit, 
teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; 
and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Matt. 28:19-20

Grace and Peace to you in the name of God our Father!

Twenty years ago this month, in March 1996, we moved from sunny Southern California to Montenegro with the desire to bring the gospel, the living Word, the Good News of Jesus Christ, to this land.  We concur, with the Apostle Paul, that neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase (I Cor. 3:7).  

Thus, in this month's newsletter, we look back at what the Lord God has done here in Nikšić over the years, to God be the glory!

Dedication Service 1995
Note:  Milijana is not born yet, neither was Montenegro as a nation.
Caption above map on photo:  Mission to Yugoslavia
In the beginning,  for years, we hosted all the Bible studies and meetings at our house--there was nowhere else to have them.  Now, we are able to go from house to house as different families host our mid-week meeting and our Sunday services are held in rented facilities.
Sweet fellowship at Makica's

In the beginning, we were the only Christian family (husband, wife, and children) in the fellowship--all others were divorced, widowed, or married to an unbeliever.  Since then there's been more than half a dozen weddings, and now there are several young families, committed to the Lord, raising their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

In the beginning, we had one English Language Bible study at our house.  Now, we have Sunday services, morning and evening; a mid-week prayer and sermon discussion, ongoing mentoring and visitations (all in the local language!), plus the university student work, EUS-CG, with its own bible studies and outreach activities in its own rented facilities.

In the beginning, we were one American family with Montenegrin roots (note our last name!)  Since then, we've hosted hundreds of short-term helpers from every habitable continent.  Now, we have ongoing, mutually beneficial relationships with Christians and Christian groups from Serbia, England, the US, Denmark, Italy, and more.

In the beginning, we prayed to meet people, to stay in country, for people to be saved and baptized, for Stan's citizenship to be recognized, for worship music leaders, for unity amongst all the evangelical believers in MNE, for more men to be saved, for the outreaches amongst the young people, and so much more.  Now, we give God glory for He has done all that and abundantly more besides.

What now? What's next? 

We have a good start.  We do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin (Zech. 4:10)but there is so much more to pray for and work towards for we are confident that He who has begun a good work... will go on to perfect it in preparation for the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6).

The work of building Christ's body here in Nikšić and in Montenegro is still a pioneering work.  

  • Montenegro remains among the least evangelized of European countries--even if a few thousand souls nationwide have heard the gospel, there are still hundreds of thousands that have not.  
  • All pastoral leaders of the evangelical churches are from outside the country--in our own fellowship, they are American, Serbian, and English.  We look forward to the day when well-trained, well-equipped Montenegrins are pastoring churches in every city!
  • Evangelicals are still widely considered a "sect" which has very negative connotations.
  • No evangelical church in Montenegro is entirely self-supporting although we rejoice that the tithes and offerings in our fellowship currently cover the rent and utilities, plus a benevolence fund as well as a tiny but growing nest egg for a future building of our own.

A good next step is church facilities of our own.

  • While we know that a building doesn't make the church, in the eyes of this culture the lack of a building that looks like a church equals a lack of legitimacy.  This perception contributes to the "You're just a sect" mentality as well as "You must have something to hide, meeting in homes and small store fronts."
  • We believe that having our own church facilities will be an important part of reaching unbelievers in the community more effectively with both increased activities and outreaches but also a better set-up to visit and fellowship after any event, including normal Sunday services.
  • Additionally, we've been reworking our current facilities to better accommodate young families and a Sunday School class, but as renters, we are rather limited in what we can accomplish.
  • Lastly, over the past five years, the congregation has gained and demonstrated the mindset that Biblijska Hrišćanska Zajednica (Christian Bible Fellowship) is not "The missionary's church" but rather "our church" with a real sense of ownership and proactive care.

Please pray for and consider donating funds towards establishing Biblijska Hrišćanska Zajednica in its own premises.  We are looking for possible locations and outlining next steps to take.

One young father,  looking down at his infant daughter in his arms, shared with tears in his eyes his hope that when she is school-aged, she could walk down the street with her friends and point and say:  "That is my church. Want to come with me this week?"

Will you help make that hope, that dream, a reality?

In conclusion, as befitting such a time as this, we express our most heartfelt thanks to God for all that He has accomplished in these years which could not have been done without you.  With that in mind, we especially want to thank:

  • The elders and saints at Faith Community Church  for embracing the original vision more than 22 years ago and for their ongoing support, through oversight, finances, and faithful prayer.  
  • The churches and individuals who've given to the ministry over the years. Some of you have been part of Mission to Montenegro (M2M) for more than 20 years, others for just a few months.  The "History of the Evangelical Church in Montenegro" would be far, far different without your love, prayers, and support.
  • The hundreds of guests who've passed through our home.  We've been blessed with a  bigger, better understanding of the greatness of our God, and we've enjoyed a taste of heaven, worshipping our God with those from every tongue, tribe, and nation.
  • The saints of Biblijska Hrišćanska Zajednica, past, present and future. Truly, God has done wondrous things in bringing us all together here, in the fullness of time.
  • Our family who faces special challenges for the sake of the gospel.  Be encouraged, it has not been in vain for the grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. (Is. 40:8).  You've been a blessing to so many; we love you all so much!

With great love and appreciation for your ongoing prayers and support in this great work of God,

Stan and Vicki Surbatovich
Mission to Montenegro

Note: If you desire to give monetarily, whether for ongoing support or as a special offering for new facilities, here’s how:

If you live in the U.S., you may mail checks made out to: Mission to Montenegro with appropriate memo and addressed to:

Faith Community Church
Attn:  Mission to Montenegro
723 South D Street
Oxnard, CA 93030

If you live outside the U.S. do get in touch (stan.surbatovich@gmail.com) and we will give you bank transfer information.

Thank you for your support! To God be the glory!
Original link: https://christianitymontenegro.blogspot.com/2016/03/march-2016-mission-to-montenegro_19.html
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