Cultural Perspectives: United States on Montenegro

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.


Comments on UN Resolution on Palestine

This week Israel authorised the building of 3000 houses on Palestinian land in East Jeruslam.  This is illegal but the rest of the world watches on passively as Israel continues their strategy to cut the West Bank in half and make Palestinian statehood almost impossible.  I wonder why Israel chose this week to make this move…!?

Earlier in the week the UN General Assembly passed a resolution which recognised Palestine as a non-member state with observer status.  As BBC Middle East Bureau Chief Paul Danahar tweeted it is the word ‘state’ which is important as this is another step along the road towards being accepted by the world as a country in its own right.

However, the vote wasn’t passed unanimously.  Less than 5% of nations voted against the resolution and joining the United States and Israel were Canada, Panama, Czech Republic and those huge and influential nations called Palau, Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Nauru.  Despite being part of a tiny minority it is tragic that Israel and United States are able to hold Palestine in such an oppressive grip.

This tragedy is allowed to happen because dozens of other countries are, I believe, too chicken.  Amongst others Great Britain abstained – despite William Hague’s reasoning I believe we are just too under the thumb of the United States to take a stand on Palestine.  I think it’s time that the United States and Israel accept they’re in the minority on this instead of churning out media that gives the impression they hold a rational point of view that stands on the moral high ground.

Countries that recognise the state of Palestine

Countries that recognise the state of Palestine

As you can see from the map above it is pretty much only the ‘West’ that doesn’t recognise Palestine as a nation in its own right.  But I suppose we must be right because we are the free West after all.

USA holds UNESCO hostage

OK, so UNESCO is all about promoting peace and justice through countries working together to protect and celebrate culture, science and education.  Right?

So why, why, why, why, why is the United States employing bully-boy tactics and removing one fifth of UNESCO’s budget as a reprisal for UNESCO accepting Palestine as a member?  Palestine is a member of FIFA but you don’t see the United States boycotting the World Cup!

If the United States really cares about what UNESCO is all about – education, science and culture – then they wouldn’t turn it into a massive political game for spoilt children.  I honestly think this decision by America to try and hold the world hostage is deplorable.  Their decision will effect the development of education for children, the progress of science for preventing diseases and the loss of protection for some of the world heritage sites.

And worse than the United States is the cowardice of the United Kingdom.  We abstained in the vote to accept Palestine! It seems our conscience wouldn’t let us vote ‘no’ but we were to scared of the good old United States and Israel to vote ‘yes’!

Sorry for the rant I just think this is horrific.

Why can’t North Korea test nuclear weapons?

I don’t understand why it is reported as something abhorrent in the West when North Korea (and Iran for that matter) do anything that suggests they have nuclear ambitions.  I checked up on an unnamed but highly reliable internet encyclopaedia which countries have nuclear weapons.  They are:

United States, Russia, UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea.

North Korea have about 0.2% of the amount of nuclear weapons that are possessed by the United States.  Therefore, I don’t understand the uproar.  How come the other countries are allowed nuclear weapons but North Korea aren’t.  Could somebody please enlighten me?

Pardon you, President Bush

I heard on the news yesterday that that George Bush character who has been in the headlines quite a bit for the last few years is gonna be able to have one last stab at major injustice before he heads out the backdoor of the Whitehouse for a cushy retirement.

I couldn’t believe it when they explained he is allowed to pardon any criminal he likes!  They mentioned one possible recipient could be shamed drugs cheat Marion Jones (I think I’ll write a whole blog about that story!) and that he may also be able to give a pre-emptive pardon to those who could potentially be indicted in war crimes particularly regarding the torture that went on in Guantanamo Bay, including himself some experts believe!

Now that would be ridiculous.  George Bush is responsible for the torture of hundreds.  George Bush is responsible for an illegal war that has resulted in the deaths of thousands.  George Bush ignores international law by recognising Kosovo as a country.  George Bush takes away the lives and the humanity of thousands of Palestinians through his political and financial support of the illegal Israeli state.  George Bush abuses the name of Jesus by using Christianity as the banner for all of his crazy crusades and policies.

I do not believe that retribution would solve anything but I think the US seriously needs to look at their law that can allow evil men to do evil things and then fade away into obscurity conveniently forgetting the consequences of their greedy and immoral actions.