October 18, 2017
Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina
Mostar/ Bosnia & Herzegovina thoughts
I'm not sure I have the vocabulary to put words around all that we've seen in this country. We spent some of the day today with a missionary couple in Mostar. The phrases "this is hard soil" and "if you're going to be here, be ready to be here for the long haul" have been ringing in my ears for days. The stat that Geoff quoted yesterday of 500-800 Christ-followers in the country has been replaying in my head. The images of buildings covered in bullet spray just above a modern coffee shop keep flashing in front of my eyes.
I can say all of that and it can sound so hopeless, but I know I don't speak for just myself when I say that something is going on here. Something is different. This country will stay with me for a long time.
October 17, 2017
Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina
Sarajevo Wrap Up
When it comes to really knowing and understanding a place, a person can research, study, and learn a lot of things, but there is no substitute for being on the ground in person. Walking the streets, seeing the sites, smelling the smells, eating the food, meeting with local people. That realization is a big part of what led us to embark on this trip in the first place, and now that we are in the middle of it, that reality is even more apparent. The conversations we've had so far have been incredibly valuable, and the time spent in both Belgrade and Sarajevo has been far more helpful than I even expected.
Today was a full day in which we were able to connect with the leadership team of a local church (possibly the largest in the country with around 50 active members), and two American missionaries, who each have dedicated nearly 20 years to serving here. Hearing as they shared their challenges, their hopes, and their experiences was incredible, and it gives me hope for the future of the Gospel in his country, even as I struggle to comprehend the thought of there only being 500-800 Christ-followers in a nation of around 4 million people.
October 16, 2017
Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina
We spent the first half of the day touring the city with a local pastor who was also on the front lines of the war in the mid-ninties. Besides giving us incredible insight into the work currnetly being done in Sarajevo, he helped us understand the history of the city. Everything from the early history of the city, to the assasination of Franz Ferdinand and both World Wars, to the gutwrenching civil war of the mid-nineties. I've been deeply struck by the cycle of destruction and rebuilding.
October 15, 2017
Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina
Belgrade Wrap Up → Sarajevo
We’re flying out on a turboprop to Sarajevo after spending a few days in Belgrade. I’m not sure what expectations any of us had but I feel confident, if we had any, they were exceeded in the short time we were there.
If one even knew Serbia or a city like Belgrade existed it would be quickly stripped of any color sitting among other nameless countries that look or sound “Soviet”. That’s what it was like for me. If I could picture Belgrade it was in grays and browns interrupted by the occasional angst-filled, anonymous graffiti on decayed apartment buildings. Don’t get me wrong - that’s some of what we saw - we saw much much more.
Belgrade is a fairly large city (approx 1.23 million people) filled with what you would expect to see in most cities it’s size in the US. Sharing the same sites, smells, sounds and shops that you’d expect when you’re in a city it’s size in our part of the world. What it was missing was the oppressive, desperate feel that I think I expected. The little I knew came from the same sources that most of us rely on when it comes to this part of the world; the news, movies, social media, etc. From my experience so far, a lot of these sources would seem more slanted than they let you in on. Granted we effectively spent 2.5 days there but our time there left us feeling that the Belgrade (and Serbia for that matter) has made (and is making) significant strides to emerge from the “developing” country category.
Friends back in the states helped connect Ben to someone who’s had feet on the ground in a neighboring city (Novi Sad) for over 20 years. We sat over dinner and talked for hours about what God has been doing in Serbia, what the needs are and why there seem to be so few opportunities to make connections with other organizations doing work in Serbia. We’re still not entirely sure what’s happening here in the way of “advancing God’s kingdom” but we’re eager to learn more.
Our takeaway - Serbia is an unexpectedly fascinating city with rich culture and history. This has been a really cool way to start the first exploratory trip and we’re excited to see more of the Balkans. Now - off to Bosnia!
October 14, 2017
Yesterday, we met up with a local church planter named Erol. He was gracios enough to share his story and some insights into how war and media affected western missions, or lack thereof, in Serbia. It was an incredibly refreshing and inspriring few hours.
Today is our last full day in Belgrade. We'll tour the city some more and try to get a better understanding of the city and its needs.
October 13, 2017
We made it! After a long day of travel, we spend the afternoon walking around our area. Today, we head up to Novi Sad to meet with Erol, a local church planter.
October 11, 2017
And we’re off! First layover, Atlanta, then on through Paris for a quick 4-hour stop, then Air-Serbia to Belgrade. Pray we’re able to get a little sleep, that Ben feels better —and no one else gets sick! The team is in good spirits and we’re excited to see how God leads the next 13 days.
October 6, 2017
Our explore team leaves soon! I’m confident there will be many unexpected encounters, meetings, and cool moments the Spirit leads us towards. But here is a snapshot of our current route: Belgrade Oct. 12-15; Sarajevo 16-18; Mostar 18-19; Dubrovnik 20-21; Paris 22-24. At each location we have lined up meetings with potential partners, national church leaders and international workers. We have also left margin in our schedule for unexpected meetings, prayer-walks, and cultural immersion. Keep checking this journal for day-by-day updates!
September 29, 2017
On October 11, Uncharted takes the first step in a new journey. While on our Exploratory trip to the Balkans, we plan to post everyday. Pictures, stories, plans, thoughts. We want to take you on this exploration with us. We want you to know where we are, and why we're there. Thank you for supporting us during this trip.