The country of Croatia has a special place in my heart. The country is a desert desperate for water—the Living Water. The countryside is beautiful and the people there do life together. They serve each other, cooking and gathering often. The culture of Croatia has deep roots and history in Catholicism, causing most people’s culture to be Catholic, whether they practice the religion or not. For the most part, Croatians have no problem talking about their faith; their Catholic roots run deep.
The team and I had the chance to go to a smaller city in eastern Croatia, Slavonski Brod, to build relationships through a Bible camp for kids and a sports camp for teenagers, while partnering with the Baptist Church led by Pastor Darko Mikulic. This year we embraced the theme of grace with the Croatian children. It was an honor to teach them about not earning our salvation, but receiving grace as a free gift from God.
The idea of grace was radically new from their normal theology. We got to tell them God isn’t a God of hard, strict rules that gets mad when we mess up but that our identity determines activity, not the opposite. Because of our standing with God through grace, we get to serve him; we do not serve him or others to earn our righteousness.
There was a little boy, Roko, that came to camp everyday and our team got to know him well. On the last day, he and I were taking a break from the sports camp and I mentioned to him that I noticed he knew a lot of the answers at Bible camp. He said that yes, he did and that he is an altar boy at his Catholic church. I asked him if there was anything new that he learned that week and his immediate response was “yes, grace!” It was a moment of inward celebration for me. I had come all the way to Croatia to teach Roko about the grace of God.
Going back the second time was like seeing old friends. God generously gave me young girls to spend time with and get to know on a personal level. The girls didn’t know Christ but they wanted to know me. I grew in affection for them over that week in the summer of 2016 that would not subside when I flew home. Via social media, I was able to continue to build relationships with the girls in Slavonski Brod.
Going back in the summer of 2017 was a refreshment for my soul. The Lord had given me these girls to love and care for and then sent me to visit them. Even if none of them professed Christ as their Savior, they heard and experienced the gospel through our team and were pointed to Truth. Although many of us from the trip have been to Brod two times now, I get the feeling the partnership between Fellowship and the Baptist Church of Slavonski Brod is just getting started.
For more information on Fellowship's global partnership with Darko Mikulic and Slavonski Brod Baptist Church in Croatia, please contact Dave Flowers at .