Bosnia and Herzegovina
After the Bosnian war of the 1990s and the US-brokered Dayton accords, it was divided into two semi-autonomous regions, Republika Srpska (RS) and the Bosniak-Croat Federation. Bosnia-Herzegovina's senior, ethnic Serb politician, Milorad Dodik, has been threatening to withdraw the Serb territory from national institutions such as the tax authority, medicines agency and - crucially - the armed forces. The potential revival of an ethnic Serb army is a frightening prospect to many people in Bosnia. Please pray for stability and for Christian witness to the peace that Christ brings.
Please pray for the 60 families who received humanitarian aid recently through Mission Without Borders. They are visited regularly every week in their homes and we pray for God’s blessing for them and their families.
There are approximately two million Muslims in Bosnia; just over half of the population. Outreach by Christian workers in the past led to some Muslims following Christ and forming local fellowships, but they have recently suffered from strong persecution and many have returned to their Islamic faith. There are now believed to be only about 100 Muslim-background believers. However, there is a growing sense of hope and expectation among church leaders and long-term workers. Pray for more workers to go and be ready for the harvest that God is preparing. Pray for church leaders to find strength and encouragement as they work together with a fresh vision for reaching their Muslim neighbours. Pray for the few local believers to be strengthened in their faith and for their fellow Muslims to be more open to the gospel.
The post war (1992-1995) socio-economic situation is troubled and recovery is slow. Bosnia and Herzegovina still struggles with poverty. Organised crime syndicates thrive and prohibit the country from joining the EU. The “brain and youth drain” sap Bosnia’s potential; 60% of young people want to leave the country. Pray for economic transformation and for a new generation of Bosnians to stay and help the country to develop. Pray for God to bring deep healing and reconciliation from the hurt and divisions created during the war. Pray for a spiritual awakening – for people to come to faith in Jesus Christ, in a country where only 0.1% of the population are evangelical Christians. Pray for the summer camps 2019, where children and young people will have the opportunity to hear the gospel.
There is a dire spiritual situation in Bosnia and Croatia: churches are sparse, evangelical believers are few, and apathy to the gospel reigns. There are less than ten thousand evangelical Christians in Croatia and less than five hundred in Bosnia! Some churches really want to make a difference but often they have few resources at their disposal. Many feel it will take up to fifty years to see new churches develop in their areas. That is too long for the eight million people in Bosnia and Croatia to wait. Please pray for visionary local leaders and churches to plant new churches and to reach the lost in their areas and for God to be at work powerfully by His Spirit.
Bosnian allegiance to Islam came about as a result of 500 years of Turkish occupation, which means that evangelical witness is small. Prior to 1991 there were only two or three known congregations in Sarajevo. By 2000, this number increased to 29, some fellowships in places where the worst atrocities had taken place, and with about 500 people attending services. However, these infant fellowships are by no means strong. Churches started in Bosnia after the end of the war in 1995, with dozens of mission workers coming in under the umbrella of Christian NGOs. A lot of people became Christians based on the benefits they perceived in doing so. Today, many of these people still find it difficult to be self-confident in the Lord and in His provision. The true situation today is a stagnant church with little or no growth. Please pray for a spiritual awakening in Bosnia.
Three lively churches, two in Croatia (Dubrava and Varaždin), and one in Bosnia (Novi Travnik), aim to start planting a total of 10 new churches over the next 5 years - a great undertaking. In order to do this they intend to mobilise 12 Brazilian missionaries and 4 Ukranian missionaries, who will greatly speed up the process. They are planning special worldwide prayer evenings for ‘Revival in the Balkans’, during Pentecost (8th-12th June) when they will seek to encourage and facilitate evenings of prayer, and hope to have people participating from Korea to Ukraine, Britain to Brazil, America to Australia, and everywhere in between! Pray for many new Christians and new churches, for finances and vision of the workers from Brazil and Ukraine, and for both the existing church planting zones (Dubrava and Varaždin from Croatia and Novi Travnik in Bosnia) and the possibility of identifying more in Croatia, Slovenia and Serbia.
Bosnia sits on the cultural divide between East and West. The country’s population consists of relatively even numbers of Bosnians, Croats and Serbs, and consequently it suffered terribly during the civil war in the 1990’s. It is estimated that 250,000 people were killed in the fighting and ethnic cleansing. This has left deep scars - all the more because this took place among communities that had previously lived together and even intermarried. For centuries Bosnia has been predominantly Muslim and before 1991 there were only three known congregations in Sarajevo. Now there are around thirty, some in places where the worst atrocities had taken place, with about 700 people attending services. These infant fellowships are evidence that there is no place so dark that God's love cannot shine.
Population: 3,531,159 (2013)
Official languages: Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian
GDP (PPP) per capita: $11,647 (2017 est.)
Life expectancy: 79 years
Religions: 45% Muslim, 36% Serb Orthodox, 15% Catholic, 4% other religions