Serbia has faced a growing problem with drugs and addiction since the 1970’s. Years ago hospitals were unable to offer much help so in 2006 Novi Sad Christian Fellowship decided to open their church facilities for drug addicts. The chief desire was to introduce them to Christ.
The first challenge is funding for the Rainbow Rehab Centre programme led by Danny and Vera Kuranji who accept men and women in the rehabilitation programme without a charge because they and their family members do not have funds. We always take the step of faith and believe that God will provide. The programme lasts around 18 months and depends on how each person responds to the change that Christ can bring in their lives.
Secondly is the challenge when someone wants to leave the programme. After a few months some residents feel that they are no longer addicted and they leave early. Often they go back to drugs. This is hard for us since we have given our selves for them and know they are not yet ready to face life out of centre.
Mihajlo is 32 years but he is not the same person that walked into the centre because now he is free from drugs and transformed from all that the addict lifestyle involves. His parents divorced when he was a teenager and his mum left the country for a new life in Germany. By this time Mihajlo was already deep in his drug problem and living on his own in Belgrade. Somehow, he decided to stop doing drugs and for a few years was clean until he slipped back into the old habit. Most of his former friends were no longer alive and he knew that he was on a similar path. He was desperate for change. Some friends brought him to the center. At first he was tempted to leave. All the talk about a God was so foreign to him because of his atheism. He doubted that he would ever be able to believe. He stayed and after a couple of months he asked Jesus to take over his ruined life. Two years later Mihajlo is a changed man and has since joined our staff in the centre. He helps other addicts to come to Jesus and follow Him and now has a big family that loves him. Something that he never had. His life finally has a purpose.
Shortly after we started the rehab for girls, Sofija was brought by her father who was unable to help her or provide accommodation. Her husband also feared the impact on their little son watching his mother unable to function. We watched her shaking, weak, pale and lost. We knew that we had to do something. We couldn’t turn her away and now we are so are so glad that we didn’t. Eighteen months later Sofija is a changed women. She looks different, thinks different, and has a bright new identity. She is a child of God, who is loved, accepted, forgiven, and free.
“I have a new wife.” said her husband. The family will soon be reunited and little 3 year old Filip is patiently waiting for his mum to come home. Sofija is free after 15 years of heroin addiction. She came in depressed and hopeless and now she is glowing!
All the men and women from the centre attend our church services and many of their family members come along as well. The church is the family. It’s the place where those staying at the centre have sister and brothers, as well as solid teaching. It’s the place where they worship God. What has been your personal involvement in the rehab work? My wife, Vera and I started the ministry and now we oversee the team and are personally involved in rehab for both men and women. We often bring them to our home and counsel them…we are like parents to them. Work with them is more than work, ministry; it is our life.
Our biggest need and challenge is financial support. We always have at least 20 people in rehab for at least 16 months and they do not pay at all. Running costs for each person are more than £200 for each month. For this we totally trust God to provide and are grateful to all that are part of His plan to provide.
Interview with Danny and Vera Kuranji