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Nontraditional Believers Recover Christian Community
Nontraditional Believers Recover Christian Community

Why do you want to fight in the war?

The blunt question sprang suddenly into Jasmin's mind, surprising the spiritually seeking Croatian soldier with its clarity. It happened in 1991, at the start of the war in the former Yugoslavia.

He responded, "I want to fight for good, to defend my country. I want to fight against evil." Somehow, he knew the question had not come from an earthly voice.

The unknown voice was penetrating and unforgettable. "If you want to take up a weapon, you will be killed by a weapon. But if you want to fight for good, then put off your weapon, and I will teach you how to fight for good."

A few months later, Jasmin turned in his rifle and uniform and began a three-year spiritual trek through Islam, astrology, numerology, meditation, and Christianity. One day as he studied the Sermon on the Mount, the words of Jesus captured his imagination. He thought, If I submit under any authority, it would be Jesus.

As he studied the Bible more intensively, other spiritual interests faded into insignificance. Eventually, in a quiet moment alone, he understood the gospel message in his heart and accepted it.

After the war for Croatian independence ended in 1995, such spontaneous conversion stories emerged in greater numbers. Local evangelical pastors found fresh openness to God as alienated individuals wrestled with difficult questions about the war and grieved the devastating loss of 140,000 lives.

"You cannot imagine all that was happening here," one church leader told Christianity Today. "The whole nation was in a depression." Abuse of street drugs, especially heroin, skyrocketed right after the war, leveling off in 2006. People with post-traumatic stress disorder flooded treatment programs.

In time, many new Christians ...

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April 2012

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