Serbia is a landlocked Balkan state with two autonomous provinces, Vojvodina in the north and Kosovo in the south. Kosovo declared independence in February 2008 but is only partially recognised as a state. The future of Kosovo and its independence is a contentious issue for Serbia. Pray for peaceful negotiations over this matter. Pray for the Christian compassion ministries to the many war refugees who were uprooted in the Balkans war. Few have returned to their original homes. Pray that they will experience God’s love and find a new sense of home and family.
With a population of more than 7.7 million Serbia has been poorly served economically from 45 years of communism. Evangelical believers face many difficulties. Yet, many churches are effectively taking a very holistic approach in reaching the country's more marginalised people. Mihajlo, one man who encountered The Rainbow Rehabilitation Centre for heroine addicts and a hospice serving people dying of cancer, says “I have been a thief, a liar, and a drug addict, Jesus pulled me out of that by his mighty hand.” Pray for those accessing this ministry for deep healing and for them to know they are children of God.
OM EAST works in partnership with the Roma Bible Union to share the gospel with Roma groups in Central and Eastern Europe, including the Arli in Serbia. Together, they produced an illustrated family Bible in the Arli language. My First Bible is capturing the attention of both adults and children. Recently one of the Roma Bible Union team members, Kristof*, gave a copy to an Arli man. As he left, Kristof was deeply moved by what he had witnessed. “It was so touching to see him react to having a Bible in his own language,” Kristof said. “He just held it and said over and over ‘this is my language’.” The man’s response is a powerful example of how important it is for people to receive God’s truth in the language closest to their heart.
Although dictator President Milosevic was finally ousted in 2000, Serbia is still struggling with bitter ethnic hatred - partly a legacy of the ‘ethnic cleansing’ that took place during the succession of wars in the 1990s. Evangelical believers among Serbs number only a few thousand, and these have to contend with a revitalised Orthodox Church which threatens to restrict freedoms of non-Orthodox groups. Yet it is possible that the tiny evangelical community may prove a catalyst for good. Across the whole of the former Yugoslavia, evangelicals are almost the only body which has been able to retain multi-cultural fellowships. Pray for Serbia’s tiny evangelical church as it bears witness to reconciliation in Christ.
Population: 7,058,322 (2016)
Official languages: Serbian
GDP (PPP) per capita: $15,321 (2017 est.)
Life expectancy: 75 years
Religions: 87% Eastern Orthodox, 7% Catholic, 4% Muslim, 2% Protestant