In our morning service, Stan most recently preached from John 15, where Jesus says: I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
In the evening, preaching from Rev. 8:1-5, Stan brought out the truths seen in the throne room of heaven when the seventh seal is opened: Deep, pervasive silence followed by prayer ending in a cacophony of calamities.
The UCCF group were a great team; God always brings the right people! They meshed really well with each other and with the local EUS team/church. The time away at English camp proved fruitful: All camp spots were taken, camp activities ranged from fun outings, English lessons, Bible lessons, discussions, and more. The best part? One young woman gave her life to Christ and the other campers were much encouraged.
Please give God all the thanks and praise due His name!
Please pray for both the campers and the UCCF team as God continues to bring forth good fruit from lessons learned, hearts touched, as well as eyes opened to future ministry possibilities.
Please pray for T who openly professed faith in Christ for the first time.
Camp Monty activities are in full swing! While the sports camp officially begins next week on July 24th, pre-camp activities and outreaches have already begun.
Please pray for the EUS team members who are reaching out and following up with the young people who are interested in attending.
Please pray for many opportunities to clearly and biblically share the gospel with the campers throughout the next two weeks.
Please pray for us as we host semi-local helpers for the outreach. (The main US team is quite large and stays in university housing).
We've had several individuals as well as an organization contacting us about the possibilities of coming to support the work of the local church here in Nikšić.
While is it too early to reveal details, it is not too early to be praying. Please pray that God would bring clarity and confirmation to all.
We give thanks to the Lord for all of you reading this newsletter, praying faithfully, supporting us sacrificially; you are God's blessing to us and His people in Montenegro. To God be the glory!With great love and appreciation,
Stan and Vicki Surbatovich
Vicki's Snapshot: Touched by War, Part 1
With the sad milestone of 500 Days of the Russo-Ukraine war in the recent news, I thought I might recount our own teeny, tiny brush with war from our early days here in Montenegro.
When we moved to Nikšić in early 1996, the former Yugoslavia was already split back into several nations, and only the republic of Montenegro was still wedded to Serbia in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY).
However, in ’98 the Kosovo War broke out. I have no desire to get into the political rightness or wrongness, but in a nutshell a significant number of ethnically Albanian people in Kosovo (a region within historical Serbia) believed their moment had come to gain independence from Serbia.
This war was still going on a year later, and Stan kept abreast of the rumors of NATO involvement (which would change much) . So much so, that when he needed to take our car to Gibraltar to be reregistered, he didn’t want to leave the rest of us behind in case the borders got shut. Although nothing happened then, we did get a much needed family vacation.
Fun with Gibraltar Monkeys
However, upon our return and with no improvement in the conflict, I started buying an extra bag of flour one week, a couple of bottles of oil the next, sometimes another carton or two of milk (UHT tetrapaks which last for months at room temperature). I didn’t indulge in extravagant stockpiling, but I did aim to be wise about the possibility of a disrupted supply chain.
Stan’s fears were justified and confirmed when a few months later NATO entered the war. Despite Montenegro’s official distancing from Serbia’s Kosovo actions, It was still part of FRY, and ergo, NATO included federal military sites in Montenegro in its aim to hinder Serbia.
In a single night, NATO bombed strategic targets here—the major airport which served both civilian and military aircraft, some naval assets on the coast, and a military outpost in Danilovgrad, located less than 20 miles from Nikšić.
By no means were we “under attack” as a people, so we did not suffer as those who live in the actual chaos and insanity of war. Nevertheless, it was a sobering, eye-opening experience.
That morning, as the news of the bombings spread, shock, bewilderment and worry set in. Life as we knew it didn't happen that day; nothing got done.
No one went to work, no kids went to school. Instead, we milled about in our neighborhoods, wanting to be with people, not alone, going from house to house, seeking company, talking about the terrible events, wondering what might happen next, trying to make sense of it. Each of us grappling privately and corporately with a stark sense of how little power we really had in the affairs of our lives.
But, the human spirit is amazingly resilient, and by the next day, while not quite business-as-usual, life went on. Partly because there just wasn’t anything new to talk about, but also because the best antidote to helpless despair was normality. Kids were dressed and sent to school. Stores opened (and sold out fairly quickly!). Our neighbor went ahead and put on a birthday party for her little boy.
Over the next month, RTCG (Radio I Televizija Crna Gora) rebroadcast both SkyNews (English equivalent of CNN) and Serbian TV. It was hard to see pictures of NATO planes readying for take off and know that you’d be hearing those same planes flying over head a few hours later.
And even though MNE had distanced itself from the Serbia/Kosovo conflict (and got left alone after those initial sorties) , it was still one country and nearly everybody had some mix of close family, distant relatives, and friends in Serbia and/or Kosovo where the fighting was occurring. Seeing planes coming to destroy loved ones was doubly abhorrent.
At times I felt I was living out Orwell’s 1984 reality, witnessing totally different news slants on the same exact happenings: NATO would claim X targets hit while Serbia made no mention of NATO attacks but boasted of how many planes Serbia had downed (mainly false). Eventually RTCG stopped showing footage from either source.
Once NATO entered the picture, the war officially came to an end three months later. However, neither God's abundant grace nor the rippling effects of the war ended for us… More to come....