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Youth Group Brings Gospel to Croatian Classrooms

BCC-SigncroppedBerean Covenant Church in Columbus, Georgia last year began to develop a mission-minded youth ministry. Like many churches, they wanted Jesus’ final charge, go and make disciples of every nation, to be deeply impressed upon the hearts of their young people. Already having supported a TMAI training center for several years, they decided to strengthen that partnership by sending their youth to have firsthand experience in serving the missionaries who work overseas.

“We were really drawn to the TMAI concept,” explains pastor J. W., “because we love the idea of training pastors in country. It is something that we as elders and we as a church really believe in. So when it came time to develop our youth ministry, the first major event we planned was a trip to visit the missionaries and training center that we partnered with.”

Berean’s budding youth group and their adult leaders spent six months in earnest preparation for this trip. They prayed together, raised funds together, learned the Croatian alphabet together, and even collaborated to put together 14 unique lessons for English language students, many of which had a gospel focus. Each lesson was intended both to practice English skills and to drive conversations to the gospel of Jesus Christ. One lesson involved debating the question, “Are people born good or evil?” Another lesson explained the surprising fact that Croatia is actually in the Bible. The Apostle Paul mentions Dalmatia, and that he preached as far as Illyricum (part of modern Croatia), so the youth group took this passage to show that the earliest Christians loved people in that area, that they did, too, and that this was why they had come. Other lessons contrasted two artists’ renditions of Noah’s Ark, one cartoony and full of bright colors and smiling animals, the other more realistic, envisioning the sober reality of God’s judgment upon a sinful world.

The Lord blessed their diligence. Their hard-working approach to the lessons paved the way for their heartfelt appeals to the gospel. The woman in charge of the school, a professing atheist, was highly impressed by the lessons, and enthusiastically invited the group to return. She was even “caught” reading over one of the gospel tracts. The Croatian students were directed to the local church and the related training center (Theological Biblical Academy) as their source to learn more about the gospel. And as for the youth group themselves, the firsthand exposure has deeply impacted the way they view the church and their own identities as Christians. They are already asking to go back!

This synergy between youth and adults, students and missionaries, is what the church needs. Austin Duncan, pastor of the 1,000-student college ministry of Grace Community Church (Sun Valley, CA) writes, “The youth must be involved with adults in serving missionaries . . . One of the reasons that young people withdraw from the church is because they grow out of what it has to offer them. Eventually, they will tire of games and skits, and look for something more profound. A key to student ministry—for a lasting student ministry—is to get young people involved in the church because they are in love with the gospel.”

The youth were also exposed to the pastoral training taking place at TMAI’s Theological Biblical Academy (TBA). Pastor J. W., who also taught a workshop on sermon preparation, explains, “This trip not only provided us opportunity to sow gospel seed in Croatian soil, but also deepened our commitment to the necessity of theological education there. As we interacted with the students of TBA, we could tell they were getting full, thorough biblical education, and will serve their countrymen well. We are all very excited about what the Lord is doing in Croatia!”

We are grateful for Berean Covenant Church and the many other partners who have helped establish and continue to support the TMAI training centers around the world. The opportunities are innumerable. If your church is currently in the process of developing a mission-minded youth ministry, we hope you will also consider how we might work together toward that end for the glory of God! You can reach us at info@tmai.org.