Youth trip to Bosnia

Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colours. And the people there see you differently too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.
— Terry Pratchett

On the 6th July 2018 a team of twelve headed out from Durham for an adventure.  We were going to work alongside Novi Most, a youthwork charity based in Bosnia and the Evangelical Church of Bosnia Herzegovina in delivering a camp for teenagers at Emek Beraka up in the mountains of Bosnia Herzegovina.  The team consisted of five young people, two Youth Leaders and the Elliot Family.

Flying into Sarajevo was an adventure in itself for some of our team who had never left the UK before, but we all arrived safely and were met by the team from Novi Most and spent the rest of the day settling in and watching the England world cup quarter final match.

Sunday saw Pete preaching at a Sarajevo Church plant speaking on faith and being where God has told you to be, using the story of Peter walking on water.  We spent the afternoon exploring Sarajevo including riding the tram to the old town and finding ice cream.  We then went to The Evangelical Church of Sarajevo in the evening. 

Camp started on the Monday so we all drove up together in the morning.  Mike Elliot had particular fun driving a borrowed car on the ‘wrong side’ of the road up into the Bosnian mountains.  There were about 120 people at camp including 90 teenagers from all over Bosnia and a team from the Czech Republic all with varying levels of Czech, Croatian, Bosnian and English.  Our first meeting was an amazing time as we worshipped God together in our own and each other’s languages.

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Molly, Rosie, Greg and Pippa all ran workshops for the morning sessions of the camp.  It was incredible to see the range of gifting and ability that God had blessed our team with and the way that they just threw themselves into running sessions and teaching skills to groups of young people that they had only just met.  For many of them it was the first time they have ever had to deal with translation and they all took it in their stride.

The camps theme for the week was Fear Factor, looking at subjects such as, Why do we fear? The fear of the Lord, Fear for our reputation and overcoming fear.  Mike, Oli and Pete all taught as part of this program and Oli in particular did an excellent job sharing his story and teaching about understanding that it’s only God who’s approval we need.

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Our afternoons at camp where split between, activities, free time and sports with plenty of time spent swimming in the lake and playing volleyball and Frisbee.

One of the Highlights of camp was Molly being Baptised.  Her testimony of faith. Of knowing God in heart and not just her head was so powerful and such a clear message of the difference that God makes in the lives of those that follow Him.  It was very special to see her share her story in front of 90 of her peers and such a privilege to baptise her in that beautiful mountain lake.

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We returned to Sarajevo on Friday night and just about had the energy to go out and eat before collapsing in our apartments for some much needed sleep. 

Saturday however was a different story with the young people heading off to be shown round Sarajevo by a local friend that they had made at the camp. And the rest of the team taking in some of the sights and backstory to that amazing city and having our eyes opened to a rich history of prosperity and conflict that has resulted in Sarajevo and Bosnia being the place that it is now.

In the evening we ran youth club at the church for some of the local teenagers.  Jonny and Moyo both did a fantastic job at giving their testimonies and we as youth workers looked on in awe at the relationships God had built up between these young people from different nations in such a short time.

Molly is baptised in a lake in Bosnia

It’s safe to say that God worked through the team and we all learnt to rely more on Him during this adventure.  Bosnia has left a mark on the young people in particular that will last the rest of their lives.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
— Joshua 1:9