MISSIONS TRIP TO SERBIA
Serving the Refugees
There are thousands of Iranian and Afghan refugees in Serbia who are in desperate need of clean water, food, clothing, and medical assistance. Discipleship for Iran mission team is raising funds for a couple of mission trips which are scheduled for 2019 to go there and serve these refugees. Please donate today and help us not only serve them but also share the Gospel with them. They need hope! They want a brighter future! We can do this together!
Serbia is a landlocked country in South East Europe with a population of about 7 million. It’s capital, Belgrade holds a population of about 1.2 million.
This country is currently facing an extreme refugee crisis.
About 150 refugees enter Serbia every single day. Alarmingly over half are unaccompanied minors. Women and small children also make up a large percentage of these refugees.
These refugees intend on settling in Europe. Because refugees are no longer able to access Serbia by sea, they are forced to make the journey through Turkey. However, a decision in March 2016 to end irregular migration from Turkey into the European Union closed the migration route through the Western Balkans, making Serbia the last country available before entering the EU.
On the journey, refugees face physical and sexual abuse as well as freezing temperatures with no warmth or shelter. The only warmth that many of these refugees have is a small fire kept alive with chunks of plastic, creating fumes that lead to respiratory infections.
Because of this refugee crisis, eighteen refugee camps have been stationed throughout Serbia. In each of these camps, there are anywhere between 200-2,000 Iranians.
These Iranians made the decision to flee their homeland to embark on a journey that is described as torturous. They risk both their lives and their futures for one thing: hope.
Last year, when pastor Firouz heard that there were tens of thousands of Iranian refugees in Serbia, he saw it as the perfect opportunity to share the Gospel with them.
He went to Serbia with two main goals: to feed the refugees and to share Christ.
Despite the various challenges that came with ministering in a foreign country, Pastor Firouz and the Discipleship for Iran team were able to register a new platform for this ministry called Hope for Heaven.
Through this ministry, the Lord miraculously paved the way for five Iranian churches to be planted. These Iranians meet in rooms that existing churches rent out.
In addition to paying rent, Discipleship for Iran helps to financially support the pastors of the host churches. Our Greatest challenge is being able to provide enough food for the ever-growing number of people attending the services. We hired two women to help feed the refugees, however, as the numbers increase, we will need to expand this team.
For this new ministry, Pastor Firouz travels to Serbia every three months. In his absence, his ministry partner teaches and disciples the new believers. Our goal is for these believers to have strong, personal relationships with God and for these churches to operate independently. If you have a heart to support this ministry and partner with what The Lord is doing in Serbia, please visit the homepage of our website. God bless you!
August-September Ministry Report
July Ministry Report
ONE HOPE. ONE REFUGE.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore. -Psalm 125:2
Our dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
For this month’s update we will first take a look at the work that has been done through the “Hope for Heaven” ministry that the Persian Church of Calvary Chapel began. It has been a few months now since they started this ministry in Serbia and we pray that by the grace of God this ministry will continue to produce fruit among Farsi speakers.
HELPING THE COMMUNITY
As you have probably seen on the news, the government of Serbia, in cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees worked to establish camps that would care for the refugees. Through this effort they were at least able to establish camps that provide for the basic needs of the refugees.
For most of these refugees, Serbia is not necessarily their final destination but rather a stepping stone to their true goal: western Europe. Therefore, every year as the weather gets warmer, many refugees attempt to find ways to cross the borders into western Europe, or as they call it, “playing the game.” It is difficult to find an exact statistic or percentage on how successful they have been in crossing over. However, it is clear that their attempts to cross the border directly affects how many people attend church services and participate in Christian activities.
Despite the increasingly strict border control, waves of refugees continue to come and take the place of those who have left.
REINFORCING OUR COMMITMENT
Those of us at “Hope for Heaven,” in combination with Pastor Firouz have come to the conclusion that we must strive to improve the ways in which we serve these refugees. Therefore, we have begun to travel to different cities (first to Serbia and in the future to different countries within the Balkans).
We have also decided to dedicate more time to fellowshipping with the refugees, as well as provide classes that help them to understand different topics of Christianity ( such as: who Jesus is, what His message is, having a relationship with Him, as well as the overall Christian faith).
Of course, we have also included a children’s ministry and do our best to teach them as well.
ONE STEP AT A TIME
There is no question that as we do this, just as before we have benefitted from the help and support of Christian organizations such as “Bridge to the Nations” from Bulgaria as well has the local churches in Serbia who have helped us with worship and finding spaces to hold our services.
Of course at times when we do not have access to space or help from others, we still carry on our services in parks, forests, and any other space we can find that will allow us to continue fellowshipping, preaching the Gospel, serve food, and talk to each other.
The true test of finding real believers among these refugees if to see who volunteers to help us in ministry and in spreading the Gospel as well as their salvation testimony in the camps in order to produce fruit.
While taking into consideration that these refugees intend on moving to different countries in the future, our goal is to train them in ministry and to grow them in the knowledge of the Bible so that they are prepared to serve wherever they are.
MEETING IN PERSON AND ONLINE
Taking into consideration the desire that many of these refugees have to fellowship and learn about the Word of God, we have provided weekly online services for fellowship and Bible studies.
We have also decided to make monthly trips to see these people who partake in the internet lessons so that we can maintain our relationship with them.
INTERNATIONAL OUTREACH AND CHILDREN'S MINISTRY
Many of the church members that we would see weekly emigrated to countries such as Austria, Bosnia, and Germany. However, over the past few months we have been able to get in contact with them again and hold weekly online meetings to see how they are doing and help them to continue to grow in their faith. Through this we are also able to find local churches that are faithful to the Word of God and pray for/ plan with them.
Among these refugees, the children most heavily affected. Therefore, they receive the most attention in our ministry. Through educational programs and introductory Bible lessons, we have asked these children to express their stories through songs, prayers, and messages and have them sent to the children in other camps to encourage them.
Our women’s ministry is something that we have recently begun in our Belgrade office church. This ministry involves reading books, language classes, as well as a Christian psychology program. We are still in the beginning stages of this ministry. The goals of this ministry include education, encouragement, motivation, fostering their talents, and helping the population of female refugees. In spite of the many difficulties and restrictions in their lives, we wish to empower these women and help them to make a positive influence for Christ in their homes, with their children, and in every area of their lives. A group of Christian women in Texas have agreed to help us with this ministry as well. We hope that this ministry will soon spread to different cities so that we can reach more refugees through it.
During the various trips that we take to talk to the Iranian and Afghan refugees in different cities, we realized that some of the management of the refugee camps have provided certain skill training and handicraft classes for the refugees (such as sewing, drawing, etc.) and have provided the materials necessary for these activities (to the extent that their resources will allow) in order to encourage the women to become more active in these areas. Even the smallest camps have access to these opportunities, however, one must also take into consideration the overall availability of resources in the country to carry out such programs. Nonetheless, we are attempting to help these artistic women and provide opportunities for them to grow through online meetings.
We also saw that many young mothers were having trouble providing powdered milk for their newborn babies. Because of various reasons such as the number of newborns in the camps, lack of availability of certain powdered milk brands, as well as the overwhelming number of refugees, it is difficult for the camps to provide it for the mothers. Therefore, we are trying to provide both powdered milk and new clothes for these newborn babies (to the extent that our resources will allow). We try very hard to ensure that these newborn babies do not have to wear second-hand clothing as they run a very high risk of being contaminated with bacteria that will make the babies sick.
During our trips to the southern cities in Serbia (and even some of the western ones), the number of Mosques and people dressed in Islamic dress pointed to the fact that these particular cities were heavily influenced by Muslim culture. Although there are some protestant churches in the area that could help introduce Christianity to the Muslims, many of the Refugees still feel a connection to Muslim culture which causes them to feel unsafe in certain areas. Because they do not feel safe, they are reluctant to join Christian groups or participate in their activities. This is particularly true among the Afghan refugees in Serbia and especially the refugees in the camps located in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition, we have noticed that many of the refugees have had exposure to Jehova’s witnesses in the area and have been fed false doctrine that has repelled them from the truth. Despite there being churches in the area that are well grounded and faithful, due to a lack of knowledge they have not taken the opportunity to engage with these issues and therefore have left many in spiritual captivity.
PRAYER REQUESTS AND FUTURE GOALS
In conclusion, we request that you be in prayer for us so that we become salt and light in this world and fulfill our purposes here in Serbia, which include: fellowshipping with these refugees to see who has a genuine desire to know the Lord and serve Him, reaching distant camps in different cities, discipling new believers, spreading the Gospel to those who have not heard, taking care of sick or defenseless women and children.
Future goals that we are working towards:
-Finding a larger space to hold our church services so that we can incorporate sound systems and other features to help invite refugees as well as other laborers who desire to extend their ministries into this realm.
-Easier transportation for the refugees. Most of the camps are far from the cities which keeps many of the refugees from coming to church.
-Access to other areas in which we can hold Christian conferences and seminars so that we can teach the refugees and help them grow spiritually before they go to the West (or even back to their home countries).
-Provide educational books, as well as english lessons to help us make connections and build relationships with the refugees.
-Provide the materials and ingredients necessary to serve the refugees in church services and in meetings.
-Establish conferences and seminars to evangelize the refugees and help them grow/learn about the Word of God. We also hope to be able to invite other well-known and established farsi speaking preachers to speak to the refugees. Even now we are making plans to have one of these conferences in November 2019.
-To provide these same services to the refugees in neighboring countries.
May you remain victorious in the name of the Lord.
Missions Trip to Armenia
We visited two orphanages in Armenia, and we provided food, clothes, and toys for them. Moreover, for one whole year, we hired a Christian believer in Armenia, and we would send $1200 each month for her to buy food and clothes for all the orphans. All those orphans were disabled. Serving them and making them happy was a tremendous joy and blessing for our team. More missions trips like this are coming up. Please partner with us to serve God and His children together.
Discipleship for Iran Team