In January, Alice Watts visited Good News Church in Niš, Serbia, to be a part of their Voice Youth music workshops, get involved with the Sunday worship and perform a small gig in a local café. Here she tells us a bit about her trip:
The weekend was a happy one with many adventures, lots of snow, music, Serbian food and fun. God really blessed us with new friendships, and gave me a deeper understanding of church planting in an Eastern context, and the church family inspired me in how they readily give their lives for the gospel.
I landed in a flurry of snowfall, and spent most of the weekend loving the fresh blanket of snow, although I was mostly unprepared, and the snow was deeper than my boots so I had cold feet all weekend! I spent most of my time with Karolina, Miloš and ID student Yasmin, who is doing a year there from Aylsham.
Karolina, Miloš and the team do an outstanding job inspiring the youth of the city by leading the outreach groups ‘Voice Youth’ and ‘Voice Kids’. Every Saturday, they give up their afternoons and evenings to teach the young people musical instruments and singing parts, and they play a major role in building their confidence for public performances. They’ve seen a number of young people come to faith through the group, and there are even more who have become a part of their church family, feeling at home as they gather weekly in the church building. At the end of the sessions they all come together for a big meal together, and I was lucky enough to be there for Karolina’s debut of the baked spaghetti roll!
I led a small songwriting workshop on the Saturday with some of the youth, and then did a Q&A with the main youth group in the afternoon. There are many talented young people in the group, and I was encouraged to see so many of them growing in passion for music and also for the community they are building. On Sunday, I took part in the worship, leading a few songs in English alongside the young musicians. The songs sung in Serbian had some familiar tunes so I was able to hum along to those too.
That evening the team took me into the city where I performed a small gig to locals and they were able to invite friends, colleagues and more of the youth to come and watch. It was a fun evening and Miloš even managed to secure TV coverage from a regional network (watch the video)!
Good News Church is one full of grace and passion to see their community know the intimate and transforming love of Christ. I began learning about the history of the culture and how most Serbians will call themselves Orthodox Christians of the Serbian church, but most of them don’t read the Bible, live a life of faith, or put their trust in Jesus. So, this mighty church is paving a way of love into the community through their many outreach groups, bringing healing, truth and so much grace with their message of the gospel.
I was able to meet Vlada and Sonja (who lead the church) on my last day for a traditional full Serbian breakfast, and hear more about their heart for their land and the neighbouring regions. I left Serbia moved and inspired by this nation which has been stripped of so much following a barrage of wars, occupation and communism over many decades. I’m honoured to have seen the beacon of this brave church shining its light through the darkness and bringing hope to many. If you ever get the chance to visit them, please go and take many blessings with you. I guarantee you will be blessed and inspired as you give. If you can’t make it over, know that they are mightily blessed by your prayers.