We arrived back home at Niš, in Serbia, after deputation in the UK, to find it had been raining heavily for many weeks. 15 May was the day Serbia suffered most.
We had to postpone lectures at the Balkan Theological Seminary (BTS), as all of us were involved in the flood disaster response. As our church runs a humanitarian organisation called ‘Love Your Neighbour’, we were among the first Christians on the flooded fields of south and north Serbia.
Within two weeks, we had visited eight towns and helped over 500 families, by providing food and hygiene boxes. Many we met had lost their houses and family members; and children had lost their parents.
Many lives were lost in just one night, when a big wave hit towns and villages. Five thousand people were evacuated to shelters where they received medical and other help. The chaos continued for two weeks, until at last the water receded.
Many doors were open to us and we were able to share the Word of God. Some even let us pray for them, realising that God is their only hope.
In Paraćin we worked through the local church. One person helped was Mircić, who, along with his father, is blind. They live alone on the outskirts of Paraćin.
Early in the morning, when the floods began, Mircić could hear the water and did not know what was happening. He is thankful to the Lord that he was awake, otherwise he would have drowned.
Water came into their home up to Mircić’s waist. He started walking towards the front door screaming for help. Neighbours took them to safety, and Mircić and his father praise the Lord for saving their lives.
Even now, a few months later, the situation is very difficult for those whose homes still need disinfecting and renovating. Many are too poor for this and have caught various diseases.
We have put families in contact with local churches and are considering ‘after-flood’ projects to help people renovate their homes. So please pray there might be people interested to help. Pray too for those whose family members died or were injured, that God may bring them hope and peace.
Following two weeks of humanitarian work, lectures began again at BTS. We were very happy to have Dr Garry Williams from the John Owen Centre in London lecture at the end of June.
God is blessing the work of BTS, and already young men are becoming involved in the ministry. We plan to travel around Serbia and other Balkan countries during the next six months, to help churches train members who are called to the ministry but lack theological training.
Emanuel and Jelena Ralević
The authors are EMF missionaries