Some of the few evangelical believers in Bosnia and Herzegovina are being helped with funding from Foursquare Disaster Relief (FDR) so that they can reach out to victims of the recent flooding that has devastated the country.
The crisis relief ministry has released $10,000 to Biblical Protestant Church (BPC) in Zenica, the fifth largest city in the southeast European nation. The money is being used to help some of those who lost homes and possessions as a result of the unprecedented torrential rain, which left many communities underwater and claimed at least 40 lives in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and neighboring Serbia.
The humanitarian crisis in the region is the worst since the Bosnian War of the early 1990s. Many have been forced to flee their homes and have been left without access to clean water, while widespread damage to infrastructure has hampered relief efforts by authorities.
Though Foursquare does not have an official presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina yet, there is a strong relationship between the Zenica congregation and Jeff Roper, Foursquare Mission International’s (FMI) area missionary to Europe. He has visited Zenica on several occasions and welcomes the FDR support.
“I am so glad that we in Foursquare are able to help both the believers and non-believers deal with this tragedy,” Jeff affirms. “This is an opportunity to show the love and compassion of Jesus in a country where the voice of evangelicals is almost unheard of.”
Around half the Bosnia and Herzegovina population is either Muslim or Eastern Orthodox, with smaller Roman Catholic communities. According to Dario Kapin, who pastors BPC, there are only 400 or so evangelical Christians in the entire country.
Zenica escaped the worst of the flooding, but nearby areas were badly affected. Pastor Kapin and members of his 20-strong church are using the FDR funds to provide food, medicine, clothing and other basic supplies. Traveling out to the nearby disaster areas is dangerous, as landslides have uncovered landmines buried during the ethnic conflict 20 years ago.
Some people lost everything when their homes were buried by mud, Pastor Kapin reports. The Foursquare gift “will help us to show that we care for those people and to share God’s love with them,” he says.
Pastor Kapin and his wife founded BPC as a two-person prayer group 10 years ago. Now the congregation meets for Sunday services in a rented hotel room, and the pastor has been featured on national TV and radio.
Thanking Foursquare for the support, Pastor Kapin asks for prayer for his church: “Pray that God will use this situation to show people how much He loves them. It’s important that we as a Christians show that we are not just interested in their conversion but in showing real love toward them. I know that many people from our city will see God’s love through all that we do in this situation, and there will be a lot of opportunities to share God’s love with them.”
The FDR emergency support was arranged by the ministry's international operations chief, Chad Isenhart. He thanks Foursquare churches and members who have given undesignated gifts to the ministry, as they make it possible to provide relief support quickly in these kinds of situations.
In recent months, FDR has also released urgent funds to support crisis ministry in Myanmar, the Solomon Islands and Indonesia. FDR was formed last year to better coordinate Foursquare’s international relief ministries, bringing together FMI’s Foursquare Relief and Compassion, and the disaster relief arm of Foursquare Chaplains International.
As former coordinator for Foursquare Relief and Compassion, Jeff Roper knows well how practical care in the wake of disaster and tragedy can open a door for the gospel.
“Pray that God can turn this situation around for His glory,” Jeff requests, “and that more people are reached, and that more disciples are made as a result.”
Anyone wanting to help the relief ministry in Bosnia and Herzegovina with further support, or anyone desiring to provide funds so that FDR can respond quickly to other emergencies, can donate now to FDR.
By: Andy Butcher, a freelance writer in the Orlando, Fla., area