Early this year, a ministry partner of TMAI in Croatia received an email that read like an SOS.
Through his internet connection on his home island, 17-year-old Luka* reached out asking where he could attend a faithful church. And as Theological Biblical Academy (TBA) began to correspond with Luka, they discovered just how spiritually isolated he is.
Luka lives within Croatia’s range of 49 inhabited islands. Among these, TBA knows of only one evangelical church. Most of the churches in Croatia are Catholic, and for Luka to attend any non-Catholic church would require him to book passage on a boat, travel to the mainland, and drive for at least four hours. But this is practically impossible. it’s the fellowship of the church that Luka desperately needs.
On his island, Luka is surrounded by devout Catholic family members who oppose the gospel. Only through the Lord’s grace in giving Luka access to the internet did he come to understand the cross, believe in Christ, and repent of his sins. But according to his family and culture, to be Catholic is to be Croatian, to be Croatian, Catholic. So, like many other evangelicals in his country, he risks being utterly disowned. Luka needs the lifeline of Christian community.
“Luka is hungry to learn and committed to the Scriptures,” said TBA’s assistant dean, Kris Brackett. “He is honest and transparent about his struggles in sanctification and the challenges and fear he faces in witnessing to his devout Catholic family.” Since connecting online, TBA has sent him several books to read as well as tracts that he might use to evangelize his family and friends. However, it’s the fellowship of the church that Luka desperately needs.
Unfortunately, Luka’s story is not uncommon.
Croatian Christians are spiritually isolated and in need of Bible-teaching local churches. And because difficult economic factors and a declining population have significantly hindered the ability to commute by public transportation outside of the largest cities, many Croatian believers are left with a vital dependence on the internet, fundamentally detached from the joy of Christian fellowship.
TMAI and TBA can offer written resources for the time being, but there remains a need for more church plants. Graduates of TBA currently shepherd over 50% of the country’s Baptist churches that have pastors, yet as God redeems those beyond the reach of these churches, the need for church-planting grows.
Please pray that God would raise up men to plant churches in these areas, reaching a community of saints eager to welcome them. In God’s grace, TBA is anticipating its highest enrollment ever in its flagship program for preparing pastors and church leaders. But even so, this is still a small number compared to the need in Croatia and the surrounding countries. In the meantime, TBA seeks wisdom on how to best connect these spiritually isolated believers to one another so that they may be encouraged. Pray that men may be trained and believers comforted until the essential beauty of church community arrives on their shores.
*Name changed for security