Imagine you are the only pastor in a city of 70 000 people…people who are mostly suspicious and hostile towards you. Every day is a struggle to serve Jesus and make his name famous to the thousands of people who label you a sect or cult. You work primarily with the down and out, refugees and gypsies, which doesn’t help your reputation much.
Nothing is easy for you but you press on because you know that these people desperately need Jesus. Now imagine that one day, after years of hard service with little fruit you come to your tiny church building only to find smoke billowing out the windows. You’ve had your church fire-bombed in the middle of the night and everything you have is gone. All the equipment, chairs, bibles and aid that others have given you from around the world is now ashes.
This is what has really happened to one of our close partners in Serbia. That’s right in Europe, not a muslim country, not Africa, not Asia…but in Europe in a supposedly Christian nation. Sasha Vitakic and his wife Sara have served faithfully and in isolation for many years in Kralajevo becase they know that people there need Jesus. Sasha found his church in ruins after vandals smashed his windows and threw a petrol bomb into the church in order to stop the work that they are doing. I’ve been to the church, walked the streets with Sasha and have seen the edgy reality that he has to live and work in. This is not the first threat they have received but the most serious and violent. This is what Sasha wrote to NLI in an email:
With great sadness we want to inform you that during the night between Sunday and Monday (17 & 18 Dec.’06) our church has been attacked by a petrol bomb. The unknown attackers first smashed the windows of our church with stones and then threw in a petrol bomb that caused a great fire in our hall. When we came in the morning the fire was still burning and we couldn’t go in because of the very thick, black smoke.
We opened the doors and windows, then with water tried to put out the fire which was still burning. We then called the police and the firemen who came and finally put out the fire. Our hall has been burned and it caused great damage. Our floor is burned and the carpet, our air-condition system is burned and the chairs in the front too All the walls are black and our church looks like a horror movie. It is exactly that. They burned our church in order to destroy us so that we would not exist. Please pray for our boldness and protection.
We are sending to you some pictures from our burnt church, so that you can see for yourselves what has happened. We also want to tell you that despite all of this we are still very committed to the vision God has given to us and that is to reach central Serbia for Christ.