Even as our US exile continues, things back in Serbia are moving on…and in the right direction.
Allow me to start with a bit of back-story. The Roma home church had outgrown its first meeting place and a second group was started. A couple was being raised up to be the new group leaders. This was some beautiful organic growth and a wonderful development. Sadly something was hiding in the shadows.
After months of the new group meeting and growing, some dissent surfaced. The couple leading the group felt too constrained, too restricted. Rather than trying to work things out they went on a campaign of spite and lies. The unjustly attacked the church leadership. They fabricated accusations and soon drove a wedge through the membership. But the worse was yet to come, not content with merely causing division, they also wanted to poison the well by including the children in their deceptions.
Over a number of months the children were told to stay away from where they had been going for church and the after school program. The kids were told if they went to church they would be taken upstairs and forced into sex acts. The kids were told if they went to the after school program they would not get backpacks for school. The kids were told that the very people who loved them were evil and not to be trusted. These lies reached the parents and many of the children being blessed by these ministries were forbidden to have anything to do with the Roma church.
But, kids aren’t stupid. They knew a safe place when they saw one. They knew who they could really trust. They soon saw through the lies. Slowly, cautiously, some of the kids started coming back. Eventually some of the parents realised they had been blinded with lies and deceit.
But there was one boy (Alex) who had to disobey his grandfather to attend the after school program. His disobedience was met with beatings. The fear of being beaten overcame his love of being with his friends. This created a void in Alex’s life. the program was full of games, fun, friends, and the beginning of his exposure to the idea of faith and the person of Jesus.
Just a few days ago, Daniel, the great young man who runs the after school program, saw Alex and his grandfather coming down the street. Daniel expected to be ignored at best, possibly insulted or worse. But he was so wrong. The grandfather crossed the street, not to accost Daniel, but to let him know Alex could return to the program and be with his friends. The grandfather had also seen through the lies. He had seen too much positive change in his grandson’s life to ignore the obvious. Not an easy admission to make since the deceiver was the grandfather’s own brother. Many other children have returned, we pray their parents soon follow.
Every day brings new challenges, but each struggle yields new growth, new chances for miracles. We are so blessed to be part of this work. We can’t wait for the new visas to be granted and getting back “home”.
Paul and Mary