The second post in the Cultural Perspectives series is written by Vicki Surbatovich. Vicki is an inspiration in godly obedience, patience and hospitality. I have learnt so much and experienced so many great times with Vicki and her family.
Nearly eighteen years ago we moved from sunny Southern California to Montenegro with the desire to bring the gospel, the living Word, the Good News of Jesus Christ, to this land. We moved to a city with no evangelical church, no known evangelical believers, and no welcoming committee. From being part of an active, loving, living fellowship, we were abruptly on our own, a lone Christian family desiring to love and serve the Lord, and we knew we’d experience both delights and hardships and learn many lessons.
One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned (and am still learning) is to view this life, this ministry, these years from God’s perspective: Do not despise the day of small beginnings. (Zechariah 4:10a, NLT). As much as we would love to be able to report that as the Word is being preached faithfully, thousands have come to know the Lord and are being added to the church daily, we can’t: That is not what God is doing at this time and in this place; that is not reality.
This is reality: After all these years, there are only five registered evangelical churches in the whole country. When we hold our yearly All-Montenegro Believers meeting, where believers from every church and those believers scattered about the country join together for a day of worship and fellowship, there are fewer than two hundred people gathering. Think about it: Fewer than two hundred in the whole country after twenty years of ministry. Pretty pitiful, at least by man’s standards.
But we do not lose heart, we do not despise the day of small beginnings because the verse continues for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin. (Zechariah 4:10b, NLT)
In the beginning, for years, we hosted all the Bible studies and meetings at our house—there was nowhere else to have them. Now we are able to go from house to house as different families host our mid-week meeting and our Sunday services are held in rented facilities. Back then, we were the only Christian family (husband, wife, and children) in the fellowship—all others were divorced, widowed, or married to an unbeliever. Now there are several young families, committed to the Lord, raising their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Formerly, we were the worship leaders: my husband strummed the guitar and I led the singing—he was the only one who knew how to play and I was the one who knew the songs. Now our singing is led by gifted, godly worship leaders. We are blessed beyond our greatest imaginings.
All this is the LORD’S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. Do not despise the day of small beginnings for this is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.