Church Planting in Croatia

Church Planting in Croatia

Daniel Trusiewicz - September 19, 2014

Baptists in Croatia
The beginnings of Baptist Movement in Croatia may be traced to the missionary outreach of Johann G.Oncken (1800-84) who is often called the ‘Father of European Baptists’. The very first Baptist congregations in Zagreb and Daruvar were founded in the 1890s. More significant growth was registered in the years 1922-39 (after the World War I) and is often attributed to the leadership of Vinko Vacek, a successful church planter. At that time the Croatian Baptists numbered about 600 and were part of Yugoslavia. Further growth came after the World War II, when the Baptist congregations were planted in the industrial cities (Rijeka, Sisak, Karlovac). The Croatian Baptist Union was formed in 1991 and the Baptists have enjoyed further growth and even to the extent of doubling the number of members and congregations. The current vision is to plant a Baptist church in every of the 21 counties. There are about 50 churches and mission stations that comprise the total of 2000 members.

Church Planting in Croatia
There are several church plants in Croatia. One of them is located in Novi Marof, about 100 km from Zagreb. There are about 30 people who regularly meet for a Bible study and worship. The meetings take place in a rented hall and are led by the indigenous church planter Jonatan. He is married to Daniela and they together raise two children. The group has been meeting there for about three years and a good deal of growth has been notified since. There are counseling sessions twice a week in the same hall where the group meets for a weekly Bible study so that people can come to talk or find advice about some spiritual or practical issues.

Jonatan says: “There are only two reasons that prompt me to plant a church in Novi Marof: the Great Commission and God’s love towards lost people who need to be saved. Our vision is to start a reproducing congregation that will be able to influence the whole Varazdin County. We have to recognize that evangelism is not the same as it was 20 or 30 years ago. Therefore we need to be thoughtful when we approach people so that they do not reject the gospel before even hearing it.”

Here are some extracts from the church planter’s reports:

Every day many people come to the Counseling Centre in Novi Marof which gives us numerous opportunities for personal contact with them. Some of them experience God's saving grace through our work. Now the vision of the planting of new church in Novi Marof is slowly but surely becoming a tangible reality. We meet lots of people who are really interested in Christian faith and ready to join our fellowship. Seven persons have become Christians and two of them have been baptized, and we six other persons are preparing for baptism.

We also have to face obstacles: a Catholic priest speaks regularly against us from his pulpit. After one evangelistic event which we organized in a local Culture Centre its director told me that he had been harshly criticized by this priest who also suggested to forbid our events in the Centre.

When I think about the past year, I can praise God for His enormous grace and numerous blessings! The greatest joy for all of us in Novi Marof (but also for the mother church in Varazdin) was the baptism of eight new believers. One of them was Diana (18), a girl who came to our meeting out of curiosity... After attending a few meetings and several conversations, she said that her Christianity and faith in Jesus became much more real than ever before. Now she has led her mother and a mother’s friend to our meeting; and she also invited us to her home and introduced to her family.

Since the official opening of the Cultural Center which is the largest building in New Marof we organize Christian concerts and similar events there. In July, the Croatian music group "Adonai" held a concert and in November we had the country music concert. At both concerts were approximately 250 people. In the summer we organized a camp for 85 fostered children from Varazdin area who came from non-Christian background. After the camp we organized interesting workshops for these children to follow up the good work.

I’m grateful that the Baptist Union supports our efforts towards establishing new congregation. Similarly the mother church in Varazdin (15 km away) is tireless in facilitating us in many ways.

The Baptist congregation of Varazdin was planted 20 years ago and has grown really well since. The church has also developed a program of planting several Baptist congregations in the region, one of them is Novi Marof.

There are 15000 inhabitants in the town of Novi Marof and the new group is the sole Evangelical fellowship there. In the region of Varazdin – Novi Marof there are about 200000 people but only three Evangelical churches.

Prayer requests
1. Pray that the new planted congregation in Novi Marof will grow spiritually and prosper.
2. Pray that the people in Novi Marof and its vicinity will continue being receptive to the gospel.
3. Pray that the gospel outreach in Croatia will result in many more new planted congregations.

In Christ,
Daniel Trusiewicz
EBF Mission Partnerships Coordinator