In the face of international isolation, national persecution, and severe economic hardships, Serbian Christians have launched an ambitious church-planting campaign, the Jericho Project.
"Today's Yugoslavia, Serbia, and Montenegro is depicted as a land of aggressive nationalism and hopelessness," says Victor Sabo, pastor of Senta's Baptist Church. "As Christians, we view it as a land of opportunity."
But the task is daunting. Many cities with more than 50,000 residents have no existing non-Orthodox church.
For the past 18 months, 10 Baptist and Pentecostal churches have been preparing the campaign and have trained 20 people as church planters, Sabo says. Outreaches in four cities are planned soon.
Already, there is a new church with 20 young people in Pozarevac. In Nis, the second-largest city of Serbia, Youth With a Mission helped establish a church last year. And in Podgorica, pastor Dusan Klajic and 20 new converts form the first Protestant church in Montenegro.
Harassment by some local government leaders makes evangelism difficult. New anti-Protestant laws are possible. "We may be in for open persecution soon," Sabo says.
According to Sabo, war and ensuing United Nations sanctions caused a "total collapse of industry" in Serbia (CT, Nov. 11, 1996, p. 93). Serbia, considered the "most hated" nation in Europe, receives little foreign aid.
"Even Western Christians seem to view Serbian Christians as black sheep," Sabo says. "Since the war broke out, befriended churches and mission organizations have forgotten us. This is a very painful experience."1
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