New Partnership Forms Between Baptists And Catholics In Croatia

( [email protected] ) Jun 09, 2004 05:30 AM EDT

Baptist Missionary Society workers have been co-working with local Roman Catholic churches in Croatia to spread the gospel in a nation that historically has been marred by Christian sectarian violence.

The co-operation started when BMS mission workers were looking for a venue to show the 'Jesus film' in the village of Mandaljena, south of Dubrovnic. A local Catholic priest was willing to offer his church hall free of charge for it. In addition to this, the priest also advertised the event in his own congregation and got permission from the bishop as well as priests from neighboring Catholic churches, who also ended up advertising the event.

As a result, 176 people attended and they were handed a copy of Luke's Gospel and an invitation to join a correspondence course offered by Campus Crusade For Christ. These numbers encouraged all the workers, particularly when considering there is only a population in the country of 4.3 million people, of whom only 6,000 are evangelical Christians.

The Republic of Croatia is one of the former republics of Yugoslavia, and has suffered from the effects of Christian sectarian violence between nominally Orthodox Serbs and Catholic Croats (as well as the better-known conflict with Muslims) during the reign of first Yugoslavia (1918-1941) and second Yugoslavia (1945-1991).

However, the desire to spread the good news of Jesus Christ has resulted in Baptist initiatives working through the Catholic networks and infrastructure.

The co-operation is a good first stepping-stone to reconcile the damage of the troubled history in the country, and it will most definitely aid the effective proclamation of the gospel in the future. 'Jesus film' events have recently also been brought to the neighboring towns of Cilipi and Cavtat, which enjoyed a similar success in regard of the co-operation with local Catholic churches. If it is possible, all future screenings of the 'Jesus film' by Reuben and Katie in Croatia, will be in co-operation with local Catholic churches.

The local cooperation primarily focuses on evangelism and in establishing a deep faith in Jesus Christ. “With local co-operation, hopefully it will also knock down some of the barriers between the Christian denominations in Croatia. Given the region's history, such a by-product would not only be positive from an ecumenical point of view, but politically as well.?Esaid Reuben and Katie Martin, BMS mission workers in Dubrovnik.