A first for IFES in the Balkans
Last summer, we organised an IFES (International Federation of Evangelical Students) summer camp in Dalmatia, on the Adriatic coast. For the first time it was for Serbian and Croatian students.
Previously, Serbian and Montenegrin IFES camps had been held for many years by Evandeosko udruzenje studenata (EUS) just for their students. But on this camp, EUS worked with Studentski evandeoski pokret (STEP), its Croatian counterpart, to lay on a camp for students from both areas.
Dalmatia is a tense area for Serbs, since in the 1991-95 war there were many hostilities in this area. So our Serbian bus was given an escort by Croatian police, and police were present the whole time to prevent outside interference.
But we all felt safe. The students from the two countries started building friendships from the very first day. The programme started with a prayer meeting at 7.30am, and students were free to enjoy the Adriatic Sea until 11.00am.
They then organised small groups to discuss important passages from the Gospels and other issues. In the afternoon, we had creative workshops in such subjects as art, dance, drama and sports. This gave further opportunity to build lasting friendships.
Friendships and ministry
The evening programme was especially important. Serbian and Croatian worship teams played on different nights and our speaker, Pastor Vlada Stojanovic, brought powerful biblical messages to the students. The students also had an evening where they gave their life stories.
It was great to see many for the first time on a camp like this, singing the songs and listening carefully to the ministry.
Here are some of their comments: ‘This camp was a great opportunity to meet students from the other country! Especially I enjoyed the small groups where we had chances to discuss faith and important matters in life’.
‘This camp opened new horizons and showed me where I am making mistakes’. ‘The camp was a gift from God to me. Here I got many new friends for life from a different country, and I will pass this atmosphere to my friends in my home city and faculty’.
‘I couldn’t believe that I would experience such a summer with so many positive people who are speaking and singing about God. I was searching for this many years, and I would like to continue to be part of student meetings. Thank God for this opportunity’.
Once again, thank you for your prayers and support, which make such a difference for students from Serbia and Croatia. They are tomorrow’s leaders, to shape our society and make important decisions.
National director of EUS (www.eus.rs)