Montenegro is one of the least evangelized countries in Europe, with the lowest proportion of evangelical Christians. About 8% of the population is Muslim. Muslim Montenegrins are concentrated in certain regions, and here they form the majority of the population. There is a Roman Catholic presence, primarily on the coast.
There are very few biblical churches in Montenegro. Most people grew up under Communism and have never heard the gospel. That is why we are here. We want them to hear about Christ, and for God to be glorified in the establishing of real Christian churches.
We live in Niksic, a run-down industrial city surrounded by mountains. Surrounding the central part of the city are residential neighbourhoods, villages and small farms. We are the only Protestant group in Niksic.
The Serbian and Montenegrin Orthodox churches (two different denominations) claim to represent the religion of the people, but this claim is a farce and a tragedy. For example, Niksic’s population is 70,000. About 60% claim to be Orthodox, yet there is only one Serbian Orthodox church in the main part of Niksic that holds services regularly – and on any given Lord’s Day there will only be less than 100 people attending the service, except on holidays.
Many who claim to be Montenegrin or Serbian Orthodox have no idea what the Montenegrin or Serbian Orthodox churches teach and have never even been inside their church buildings. Their religion is just a cultural identity.
Serbian Orthodox leaders do not preach the gospel. They do not call Montenegrins to faith and repentance, or teach the love of Christ. Rather they call biblical Christians a ‘sect’ – likening us to Satanists and telling people not to listen to us.
There is much superstition, paganism and occultism in Montenegro. People claiming to be Orthodox often visit fortune tellers and psychic healers. Ostrog, the most famous monastery in Montenegro, claims to have a piece of the original cross. The monastery in Cetinje claims to have a body part of John the Baptist. People go on pilgrimages to view these relics thinking that they are thereby earning merit with God.
Many will not work on ‘saints’ days’ but have no regard for the Fourth Commandment to ‘Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy’. Yet in spite of the unpromising background we are encouraged that the Holy Spirit is moving and opening the hearts of sinners in Montenegro.
Stan and Vicki Surbatovich