Serbia trip report

Colorado District
Work & witness trip Report:

Our district team consisted of 8 people from five different Nazarene churches. Three of us from Denver First Church of the Nazarene were able to participate.

Our mission started out at the newly opened Mission Outreach Center located near the center of Belgrade, Serbia, the capital city. We quickly got to work helping paint, complete electrical improvements, put together IKEA cabinets as we reconfigured the kitchen area, an important focus for the center as they will be hosting ministry activities there. The Colorado District earmarked money that went towards those building materials as well as helping them launch the opening.

One of the first outreach efforts was a Bible study for Russian immigrants who left Russia due to the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Our missionary hosts were Ben & Hannah Ponder, who are pioneering Nazarene efforts in Serbia. Another key missionary couple to the Russian outreach was Alexi & Olga who lead the Bible study each week. The center will have outreach to children with many activities focused toward them. Our team delivered a puppet stage for use in that ministry.

The last two days of our mission we worked at a Refugee Camp in western Serbia near the Croatian Border. The government run camp at one time was a Hotel spread out on a few acres. It can hold up to 1000 people escaping from various countries due to ongoing war and political strife in their home countries. Currently there are less than 100 there as the refugees that are in transit are now being held at the border for political reasons.

We partnered with Operation Mobilization who have a tent set up as an outreach center within the grounds where the refugees can come for a cup of tea or coffee, play games, learn English, and just visit. We did have opportunity to meet several refugees from Morocco, Afghanistan, and Somalia. We played games that helped them learn English, played Ping Pong, and also talked about Jesus with those who were open to it.

Part of the ministry of Operation Mobilization is to help the upkeep of the camp with laundry, landscaping, and maintenance work so our team pitched in by painting, cutting and trimming grass, as well as assisting with the refugee laundry needs.

It was a privilege for us to serve our Lord in this Nazarene pioneering effort to establish the church through Compassionate Ministries, serving the central part of Belgrade, where it is visioned that many Serbians and Russians will come to know Jesus through this new outreach center.

We look forward to hearing about how the Lord uses that center for years to come! Thank you for praying for this work and witness team and remember to pray for this unfolding work in Serbia and the missionaries who are leading it.

Memory or Moment That Will Be Remembered:

Kathy Bruneau:
My favorite part was at the refuge camp where we got to interact with the refugees, played games, helped with laundry, painted, and participated in sharing Jesus through an interpreter.

John Bruneau:
I had fun trying to communicate with the Serbians at the market, hardware store and plumbing supply store. Communication was by sign language, pictures, and pointing. It was neat being a part of a pioneering effort of the Church of the Nazarene as they launch the Community Outreach Center reaching Serbians and Russians with the love of Jesus.

Rob Garrison:
I loved the do-anything spirit of the team and the way the lord brought people together with such a perfect set of skills. Through the skills of the team, we repaired and upgraded Ben’s bicycle, changed exposed electrical wires into working outlets, and set up the Wi-Fi network in the ministry center. Also, I will never forget spending an evening playing dominoes with refugees from Iran and Afghanistan.