“…people are sad and disappointed. Country is destroyed, two million families without jobs, old people like my father didn’t receive their pension from January… It is very hard to find a job in which you don’t need to lie or steal or to do some non-Christian acts. Maybe this seem to you very strange but this is reality here.”
The horror of Kosovo has dominated our media for months. The very idea of ethnic cleansing is appalling. Its implementation is sickening. But this is part of a letter, not from Kosovo but from Belgrade. For in war, the little people on both sides suffer.
To Australians the war was on the other side of the world. Even for NATO it was fought at the clinical distance of aerial efficiency. Only in the stream of refugees did the devastating reality enter our lounge rooms. Yet war is not about generals and politicians but about little people: the nameless citizens whose lives are caught in a maelstrom.
One such nameless citizen is Ivan.* Ivan is a Serbian Christian who lives in Belgrade. Below are snippets of his recent letters.
Hearing of these Serbian brothers preaching in prison and in the army kitchens, sounds so much like the days of the New Testament, and so different to our days of the busyness of sport, shopping, and social life.
“The bus came a little earlier than usual (when) NATO bombed electricity place 150 meters from house. Praise God that he saved me,” Ivan writes.
“My father came out from hospital yesterday. In hospital he started to witness to doctors, nurses and other patients. He gave five Bibles to them.
“Simon is in army prison. He is good, soldiers have treated him very well. He wrote to army to give him other responsibilities without gun… In prison he found many people from his city and shared the good news with them. Please pray for Simon.
“We preached on John 4 with candles because we didn’t have electricity. It was great. Chris’ mother Mary and Elizabeth listened very carefully and asked questions. Praise God for that!
“Situation in Kosovo region is not as good as International forces expected. At the same time when International forces are finding massive graves on Kosovo, KLA are killing, raping Serbian population. In one region KLA burned many Churches, and raped one nun in one monastery.
“Finally after three months state quit war. Simon is now in state prison. They gave him five years. Situation in that prison is not good. Please pray for him.
“One brother Robert from our group was with us last week. He was in Kosovo and told us many great testimonies (at) how God protected brothers in Kosovo. Robert refused the gun and wrote a letter (saying) that he is believer and didn’t want to kill people, and they put him to work in the kitchen. He told us how he and others witnessed to other soldiers.
“Robert knew that many of you prayed for them and he sent greetings to you and say thanks. None of brothers in Jesus died, God protected his saints.
“All Christian leaders gathered together at prayer breakfast. We talked about situation in the city and how we can cooperate together in spreading the gospel.
“In Church we are planning to do some humanitarian (work). We will buy 100 kg potatoes and give them to an orphanage in Belgrade.
“In our home we started Bible group every Tuesday evening with our neighbours… we are living in one part of Belgrade, amongst 300,000 people and there is no Church, not even Orthodox… former and present communists are living there…
“Many people are now open for Word of God. Many people, old and young are asking common questions like: Why has this happened to us? Many people find out that God is in control, not them… I believe that now is God’s time for Yugoslavia.”