“God, if you exist, please help me now.”
“God, if you exist, please help me now.” In 1992, this was Slavko Hadžić’s desperate prayer to a God he didn’t yet believe in. The Bosnian war had just started and Slavko, from a mixed marriage, was expected to join the army. “Whichever army I joined I had to fight against half of my family,” he recounts. Instead, he and his wife left Bosnia, vowing never to return.
God heard Slavko’s cry and through some friends and family continually sharing Jesus with him, God called Slavko into His Kingdom—and back to Bosnia.
“Three years after my first prayer, I decided to follow Jesus and commit my life to Him,” Slavko recalls. “I started to feel that God wants me back to Bosnia to spread his kingdom here. . . I was really strongly resisting that, . . . but after few months of wrestling with God, I decide to return to Bosnia and Herzegovina and my wife followed me.”
“A decision to follow Christ is almost always costly.”
Slavko explains that because in Bosnia and Herzegovina, religion and nationality are intertwined, life for new believers is challenging.
“There are three major national groups: The Croats (Catholic), the Serbians (Orthodox), and the Bosniaks (Muslim),” he shares. And though faith is primarily nominal (“50 years of communism has helped that,” he says), a decision to follow Christ is almost always costly.
“There is strong rejection from the family because of the war and because people identify religion with nationality. If you change your religion, you become a traitor of your nation, your family, your friends . . . so there is a lot of rejection,” Slavko says.
Another challenge: the size of the evangelical church.
“In our last war, so 25 years ago, there was less than 100 Christians and maybe 5 or 6 churches in the country,” Slavko says. “Today there are around 800 believers in our country, which is 3.5 million in population . . . and 25 local churches. [We] experience some growth, but still the need is great and there are many towns and villages without any evangelical witness.”
“I had classes on preaching, but it wasn’t really sufficient.”
The church in Bosnia and Herzegovina, small and fragile but growing by God’s grace, desperately needs trained leaders who can teach God’s Word. When Slavko returned to Bosnia—he volunteered at a local church, led a home group and men’s ministry, began attending Bible school and eventually became an associate pastor—all the while feeling unprepared to shepherd his church. “I didn’t have any Christian training,” he says. “I had classes on preaching, but it was not really sufficient.”
So, in 2008, Slavko traveled to Croatia to join a small group of pastors and leaders at the first of a three-part Langham pastor training seminar on how to study and teach Scripture.
“I really fell in love with Langham because Langham is great tool to equip preachers to communicate the Word of God in a better way,” he says. “I can see how it is bringing big change into the local churches, and preachers, and pastors who are exposed to Langham seminars.”
“The Word of God is alive and it’s changing lives.”
Today, Slavko not only pastors at Koševsko Hill Evangelical Church in Sarajevo, but he also works to train other local pastors around the region through Langham.
“When a preacher is preaching from the text and brings the Word of God to the congregation, I believe lives are changed,” Slavko says. “We have so many examples of changed lives of former drug addicts, alcoholics, or just regular people with high moral standards but with empty hearts, when they are exposed to the Word of God…they are growing into the knowledge of God, and the Word of God is alive and it’s changing lives.”
Slavko has a burden for evangelism and discipleship–to see churches established and growing not only in number, but in maturity. His prayer is to see “not two dozen, but hundreds of churches packed with people who are worshipping God.”
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