Pioneer Trip: Lescovac
King’s is part of a family of churches called Relational Mission, and it is a family that stretches all over the world. As a result, there are often opportunities for us to go overseas on a pioneering trip to serve and love a community of international brothers and sisters. Tony Greene has been on a few such pioneering trips and here tells us about all the amazing things he and the team got up to in Lescovac, Serbia.
“People brought all who were ill with various diseases” (Matt 4: 24)
I’d been on pioneering trips before, with Andy Moyle (Gateway, King’s Lynn) to Smiltene (Latvia) and Weil Am Rhein (Germany) so when I had a WhatsApp message from Maurice Nightingale asking for volunteers to go to Lescovac in Serbia to serve at a weekend leaders’ conference I jumped at the chance.
The brief was to just be there and pray for, make friends with and encourage the Serbians in the wake of Grantley Watkins’ (Wymondham) ministry on the Holy Spirit. I knew that the gathering would consist of Serbian and Roma gypsy leaders who were serving in churches around Serbia, and connected with the church in Lescovac.
What a whirlwind!
Maurice warned us that getting to Serbia was not straightforward, and so it turned out! A 3 hour flight to Sofia, Bulgaria, where the team of around 10 were met by Vlada Stojanovic from Nis. This was followed by a 3.5 hour minibus ride to Lescovac where we were warmly greeted by our hosts with Serbian snacks.
The friendliness of local interpreters overcame our inability to communicate and helped us to make friends with the leaders of the local church in Lescovac.
After we booked into our hotel for the weekend, we returned to the church meeting house for the evening meeting. I was amazed and humbled by the warmth of our reception by the local leaders. I was hugely impressed by the depth of relationship Vlada has with the local leadership.
The Friday evening meeting started with worship! Amazing! This was a blend of songs we know and songs we don’t but all done in a style unique to their culture and origins. Just amazing. Such a wonderful privilege to be there and worship with them.
The people responded with great faith to Grantley’s teaching on Friday evening, Saturday morning and evening and Sunday morning, and we had many opportunities to pray for the people in the congregation in response. I felt we left a “deposit” of prayer and support with them.
It was the other things we did that left more of a lasting impression though.
On Saturday afternoon, we were taken to a Roma “mahallah”. “Mahala” is also a Balkan word for "neighbourhood" or "quarter" (Wikipedia). It is a place where Roma gypsies live in a segregated area, with all that the word “segregated” implies. We accompanied the church leaders, who took a smaller band of musicians, into the centre of the mahala and simply played music and worshipped.
Because of the longstanding relationship between Roma and the local church, the sounds of the band brought many Roma people out into the street from their homes to be prayed for. It was something I’d read about in Matthew 4:24, but I was seeing it for myself! We prayed for the sick and Grantley preached the Gospel in the street.
What affected me most was praying for a young girl of around 5 or 6 in her mother’s arms who was incapable of anything except eye movement. When prayed for in the name of Jesus her face became joyfully animated - there was a difference. All we had to offer was the love and compassion of Jesus. What a privilege.
We were also taken to a plot of land that the church had been negotiating for 15 years. They were finally going to be able to cast the first foundations of what would become the home of the church and means of serving and reaching the people of Lescovac. 11 Hectares of land! We walked and prayed and prophesied over the land. God said some powerful things over the church and their future. When we came back, we heard that several Roma had been attacked and assaulted in the very street we had been worshipping, praying and preaching the Gospel. They really are on the front line!
As I reflect on the trip, I realise that I have been left with a greater deposit than the team brought to them. I should have expected that. We made great friends and RM has an opening to train many leaders around Serbia. A great weekend.
Pray! For success for Relational Mission in organising and delivering leadership training for Serbia
For the safety of the church and its members
For provision: they need €300,000 to complete their building
Perhaps you could join a team? Go to the Relational Mission Pioneering website to find out more about how we are spreading the word of God to all corners of the Earth and how you can be a part of it.