Impact Montenegro takes place 2 – 9 July 2017 under the auspices of the Pentecostal European Fellowship. Teams are being recruited from across Europe and the USA to support local believers and church leaders in a coordinated outreach in the capital Podgorica and five other towns across the country. Montenegro is a small, mountainous Balkan nation with a history going back 1,000 years. It enjoys a short stretch of the beautiful Adriatic coastline. Montenegro is the least evangelised country in Europe and back in 1965 there were no evangelical churches. Today, there are three registered evangelical churches in the whole country that each receive support from Transform Europe Now plus at least two other Christian gatherings. Over 72% of the population of 626,000 adhere to Eastern Orthodox Church, but there are only around 250 evangelical believers.
Fifty years ago, Montenegro was part of former Yugoslavia, a communist country led by President Tito, although, in comparison with the rest of the Eastern bloc, communism within Yugoslavia was much less extreme. Jovica Bacvanski, who with his wife Savka leads Podgorica Pentecostal Church, tells us: “ As I was growing up I realized it was safe to live in my country. People were united in their effort to rebuild the country just 20 years after the great destruction of the Second World War. People were poor, but happy. They were united. Anyone who wanted to work could find a job. Many, who were not satisfied with the opportunities in Tito’ s Yugoslavia, could travel to the West to find jobs and a better life.” After the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia in 1992, Montenegro remained part of a smaller Federal Republic of Yugoslavia along with Serbia. Then, following a referendum, in 2006 the country finally declared independence. How are things now?
Jovica explains: “People who used to call themselves communists, today call themselves democrats. But they are the same people. We have a saying here; ‘The wolf changes it skin, but it does not change its nature’. Economically our country is weak with unemployment around 20%, although the tourism industry along the Adriatic coast is growing. A few people are rich, while many others struggle for daily bread. The dream of most young people, who are supposed to be the future of the country, is to go to the West. The irony is that people were happier in 1965 than today in the 21st century. Then and now church leaders were persecuted, many of them punished and despised for their faith. The needs of the country are huge— workers need places to work, new factories and firms, improved working conditions, increased salaries, enough money for daily needs, a better schooling system, less corruption, crime or illegal short cuts in every area of life.”
There is much to be done. Jovica’ s vision is to have a Training Centre for Christian workers and home cell groups in every city in Montenegro to carry the torch through prayer and personal witness. He concludes: “ There is a price to be paid whenever people united in prayer will not receive ‘ impossible’ as an answer.” Please pray for the church and its mission in Montenegro.