Life in Croatia

After coming back from Croatia, the Lord had me in California for over a year.  I’d like to say that the past year was easy and that I loved every second of it but I cant. This past year has been one of crying my heart out to the Lord, questioning His timing, and being challenged in various ways. However, this season has also been one of full reliance on the Lord, hearing His voice, sharing the Gospel with the Lost, and learning what it means to live one day at a time. It’s been a challenging season but also a very sweet season. 

In getting ready to head back to Croatia, I packed up my things, I kept what I needed and donated the rest. Though I knew that it was going to be hard, I never imagined how scary it would actually feel to get rid of everything and leave it all behind. As fear crept into my mind, I called on the Lord and just like the good Father that He is, He answered. He took my fear and replaced it with peace. I was sent off be Calvary Chapel Saving Grace. It was a huge blessing to be able to have Pastor Trent pray over me with the entire church before I left. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been in Croatia now for almost a month now. I’ve had so many people ask me how it feels to be back and honestly, it feels like I never left. The familiar sounds of the language, the smell of people smoking, the trams that take you from one place to another all feels like home. As I walk through the streets, I’m humbled by the fact that the Lord has called me back to the country and people I have grown to love so much. 

Each new day is filled with new things that just warm my heart. From the new people I meet to the friends I get to hang out with again, each moment has been a huge blessing! I reminded of God’s goodness and love towards His children. Each new day that I spend in Croatia is a constant reminder of God’s call to go share the Gospel to the Nations. 

                             Raskrižje Kršćanska Zajednica Church

Serving with Ben and Emily Spector has been the biggest blessing! They have opened up their home for me to stay until I move into my apartment and they are constantly checking on me to make sure that I am doing well. They’ve adopted me into their family and I couldn’t be more blessed by the amount of love that they have shown. Serving alongside of them has been an answered prayer. I couldn’t be more excited to see what my part will be in Raskrižje and how the Lord is going to use this church to reach Zagreb!

Unfortunately, I will not be able to be apart of the Roma Ministry that I initially intended to serve with here in Zagreb for reasons that I cannot explain (Partially because I don’t fully know and understand the reasons myself). At first this news was very discouraging. I have dreamed and looked forward to going back to those villages for such a long time. It shattered my heart to know that it was going to be a while until I am able to step foot back into the villages. It’s in those moments of questioning God’s will that He brings to remembrance the importance of the waiting season. I know that the Lord has a plan and I fully trust that He alone will provide a way for me to start working in the Roma villages again. Until then, I’m using all my time to study Croatian so that when I do go back, I will be able to speak to them in a language that they can understand. Please join me in praying for a way back into the villages and for a team that I can serve alongside with. Ben and Emily (Pastor and His Wife) are currently contacting ministries they know that work with the Roma community, to see if I can serve with them. 

I also just finished my second week of language classes. I can officially say that from the moment I step into my classroom till the time I go to bed, my head hurts. I’m constantly listening to people speak, trying to figure out what they are saying, and then trying to form a sentence that’s understandable which I can say before they move on to the next topic. I know that the Croatian language is going to take time to learn and I pray that the Lord gives me the endurance and perseverance that I need to learn Croatian. 

I love going to school and talking to my classmates though. I happen to sit next to a Muslim lady from Libya. I can only think that the Lord not only prepared me all summer to work with Muslims but also that He placed her next to me for a specific reason.  I’ve invited her to church and to the English classes at the church and though she hasn’t taken me up on any of my offers, I will keep offering it to her. Join me in praying for her and her family. I can’t wait to see what the Lord does through our friendship that’s starting to develop. 

 

Praise Reports:

I made it to Croatia safely and I am staying with THEE sweetest family!

I found an apartment!

Language school is going well. 

Prayer Requests:

Pray for me to be able to learn Croatian quickly. 

Pray for the English Classes offered at the church every Thursday night.

Pray for the Roma Villages!

Pray for the Gospel to penetrate the hearts of the Croatian people.

Needs:

The Lord has provided in so many abundant ways! I know and trust that He will continue to provide the amount that I still need. As of right now, the Lord has provided $880 of monthly support. Which means that I am only $120 from reaching my goal of $1000! 

However, in making my original budget, I didn’t count for Social Security taxes, Conferences, Furloughs, etc. I would like to raise an additional $300 monthly on top of $120 to cover all of the extra costs which I didn’t account for. I know that this is a lot to ask for but I promise that I’m not adding the $300 for no reason. If you would like a copy of my budget, I would be more than willing to share it with you.

If you feel the Lord is leading you to support the work happening in Croatia, please click on this link. I want to thank everyone who has supported financially and prayed for me in any way. It’s through your support and prayer that I am now in Croatia. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you! 

My first semester of Language school cost me 700 Euros. I chose to take this course because I believe that if I want to serve in Croatia long term, I need to be able to speak Croatian properly. If you would like to help me pay for my language class please click on this link.

Thank you for wanting to take part in the work that the Lord is doing in Croatia. I am so blessed by the fact that you are partnering with me through prayer and financial support! 

God Bless, 

Rebecca

 

Voice of Refugees

For the past couple of months, I’ve been asking the Lord to give me a passion to share the Gospel with those who are lost. Though I grew up in the church I never felt like I had sufficient training in the Word of God to share with those who knew nothing about the Bible. I always told myself that I didn’t have the gift of evangelism so therefore I never had to share with others about Jesus. Silly, I know. Yet I feel like many in the church feel that exact way. We may not be gifted evangelists like Billy Graham or Greg Laurie but we all have the responsibility of sharing our faith with those around us. We’ve been called ambassadors for the Lord. People who He has given the responsibility to tell others about Him but many times we don’t live life in that way. In my life, I was saying that my fear of sharing my faith, the uncertainty of not knowing the answers, was more important than the soul of a person. How completely selfish I was and at times still am.

The crazy part is that once I started to pray that the Lord would give me people to share the Gospel with, He did! Not only did He place specific people at specific times in my life, He also opened the doors for me to work at Voice of Refugees. I went from being too scared to share the Gospel, to trying to incorporate the Gospel in every Bible lesson that I gave to Muslim children. How good is our God! I’ve learned a couple of things this summer that I would like to share with you.

    1. God does not call us to the easy things. Every day it was a battle to go teach. I had some difficult students that literally kept me praying every second I was with them. Yet because they were so misbehaved, I developed a sweet relationship with their mothers that wouldn’t have developed if I didn’t have them constantly in my classroom. I also learned firsthand that God is with me in the difficult times, guiding my every step.
    2. God equips us for the work that He has called us to.  Every college class I took, every Sunday school class I’ve taught, every VBS I participated in, etc was all for a reason and a purpose. To equip me for this summer and for the many adventures that are to come. Nothing is in vain. The Lord wastes nothing.
    3. Prayer changes things. Teaching this summer led me to a point where I didn’t think I was going to make it through the day. In every moment that I was overwhelmed, I took it to the Lord. It was in those moments of taking it all to the Lord that He granted me peace and grace. I prayed for the Bible lessons to be received well and they were. I prayed that the kids would learn how to pray and they did. I even had a Muslim child volunteer to pray for the snack!!
    4. I need to be willing to be used. I could have said no to this opportunity. I knew it was going to be a challenge and that it was all going to be new to me. Yet, I asked the Lord to use me in any way that He wanted. I was willing and because I stepped out and said ‘Here am I, Send me’ the Lord used me. He wasn’t going to force me to do anything but in walking through the doors that He so wonderfully opened, I was extremely blessed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apart from working with the kids, I was also able to develop amazing relationships with some of the mothers. I had a goal to speak to the parents as much as I could, in order to build relationships with them. I loved on every mother that walked through my classroom door. The relationships I built with the mothers was one of my favorite parts! I spent a day at the beach with them, which was an amazing time. I was also able to spend an afternoon with them at a park. I even had one lady remove her hijab (head covering) to show me her hair. That moment was HUGE and I was blown away!  These women, are seeking for family and friendship. I was told over and over again that they feel like they are all alone and they simply want someone to talk to. The Lord loves these women so much and I pray that one day they will run towards Jesus and away from Islam.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the second to last day, I shared with the kids about Jesus and what He did for us in order to take away our sins. I didn’t know how my Muslim students were going to take it or if they were even going to listen but as I spoke, each child listened and I pray that seeds were planted. I continually pray that the Lord would place more Christians in their lives who would continue to water the seeds that were planted. I pray that each and every student in my class would become a Warrior for the Lord!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I learned so much this summer and I stand in awe of God’s goodness and faithfulness through it all! Stay tuned for next month’s newsletter as there is going to be some BIG exciting news shared!

God Bless You!

If you would like to volunteer at Voice of Refugees, please let me know. The missions field is in our backyard, it’s your turn to step out and reach the nations for His Glory.

A Heart for Croatia

Many people, when I first mention Croatia, tend to give me a puzzled look.  “Croatia?” they ask. I’ve had many people say, ‘Oh, the cruise that I took there was beautiful,” or they list the touristy cities in Croatia, which I have never been to or even knew existed. I smile at their comments and respond by saying “Maybe one day I’ll be able to experience those places as well.” For me, Croatia isn’t about the coast and its mesmerizing beaches. It isn’t about the beautiful architecture that lines the streets or anything that a tourist would know this small country for. It’s about a small group of people that most of society doesn’t want to be associated with. It’s about what the Lord is going to do through this small group of people. It’s about reaching the unreached and unloved. It’s about being called to live out the simple Gospel. 

For those of you who don’t know where Croatia is, let me help you out.  Croatia is in central Europe in between Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. In moving back to Croatia, the plan is to live in Zagreb and work with a church that is already established and has been working with the Roma Communities for a long time. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For those of you who would like to know what I’ll be doing in Croatia, please keep reading.

What is a Roma Community? Roma communities, otherwise known as gypsy communities, are little settlements of people who are outcast from normal society. The people that live in these villages are looked down upon by society and many times are deemed unworthy. They speak their own language and most of the time marry only within the Roma Communities. Many of these families live in extreme poverty and in really filthy conditions. Most homes consist of two rooms, one for sleeping and the other for eating/hanging out, and don’t have a bathroom. Families normally have to use an outhouse (if they have one) or the nearby grassy hill. There are many homes that don’t have electricity or running water and at the same time are infested with cockroaches and rats. Families normally consist of 10-13 people who all tend to sleep on the floor in the same room. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back in 2014, I was privileged to visit a Roma Village for the first time while I was studying at Bible College. I remember being so excited to go into the villages and share the gospel with the Roma people. I also remember driving up to a village for the first time and telling myself that there was no way that I was going to get out of the car. I was struck with an insurmountable amount of fear. It was in those villages that the Lord revealed His love for the gypsies to me. It was in those villages that I got to meet some of the most beautiful people I have ever met to this day. I’ve been given the privilege to be able to work with these beautiful, energetic, loving and yet difficult people. The kids that I first met in 2014, I now know. They know my name, they give me hugs, we’ve played games and laughed together, but more importantly, they get to see Jesus lived out through me every time I’m with them. I so strongly desire for each one of these kids to KNOW JESUS. Not just to know the Bible stories and to be able to answer questions thrown their way but to experience Him. These kids from a young age are told by society that they are not wanted, I want to dismantle that lie and show them that they are very much wanted by Jesus!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The team that I am apart of works in three different villages every week, Loncarevo, Trnovec, and Strmec.  Each village is unique in its own way. Normally we arrive at each village, gather the kids and do a Bible lesson and craft with them. Each lesson is crafted up in an interactive way that requires the kids to participate. Though these kids love the way the lessons are presented, I believe that worship is their favorite part. We end each lesson with a craft for the kids. While a couple of us work with the kids, we have 1-2 guys that work with some of the men in the village as well. The men gather together and study God’s word. In learning the Croatian language, I would absolutely love to start a study with the women. Once a month, we are able to bring sandwiches, chips, and soda to the Bible lesson. We have our biggest classes on those days. For us, a sandwich is nothing special, but for these kids, it’s like Christmas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve also started a program called Bright Futures, in where we take ten jr. high age kids out of the villages and bring them to the city to live with us for the weekend. In a typical Roma home, education is not important. You raise your kids to marry so that they can make more babies that can one day marry. Guys and Girls are dropping out of school at 15-16 and getting married. They have kids by 16-17, maybe even younger. Men sometimes leave the country to find work, while the women stay home and take care of their 5+ kids. Other men stay home and try to find work near home. Then there are the men that stay home and drink away all of the money that is given to them. Alcoholism is rampant, and sadly, many times this can lead to abuse or neglect in the home.  We see this crippling cycle and we want to help change it. So we bring ten kids with us to the city to live with us. Over the weekend, they get tutored in Math, English, Croatian, Science, and any subject they are struggling with. However, we know that even though education is extremely important, it isn’t eternal. So we focus on teaching them God’s word through devotionals, Bible Studies, and church services. We want them to know that they are valuable, not only to society but more importantly to God. We end the weekend by doing something fun with them. It’s a blast to see a 12-year-old ride on a small roller coaster for the first time or to take them to the movies to see a cartoon, or even just taking a trip to the store to buy an ice cream cone.  We do this in hopes that what they learn about Jesus throughout the weekend they take home and share with their friends and family. We do this in hopes that they’ll become the lights on the hill within the Roma villages.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Working in the communities hasn’t been a walk in the park. Each time we go into these villages, it’s like we are entering a battle zone. These people, as loving as they are, can be a challenge. I was recently given this statistic. There are about 16,000 Roma people in the area that the team works in. Out of those 16,000 people, most of them would say that they are religious but don’t really practice or live it out. Only 1.5% of the Roma people are actually following Jesus. If you were to do the math, that would make each team member responsible for sharing the gospel with 3,200 souls. Talk about intimidating. The awesome thing is that we already see the gospel changing the lives of some of the Roma people. Though the numbers of believers in the villages are few, we know not to limit God to what He can do. You see, when I think of Croatia, I don’t think of a postcard. I think of all of the lost souls who are unreached. I think of the 16,000 souls who are despised by society but who are loved by the Lord. 

Though I had some wonderful people partner with me at my dessert gathering, I still do not have enough finances to go back to serve the Roma people. As of right now, I have about 25% of the monthly financial support that I need. My heart’s desire is to be back in a Roma Village before the next school season starts. However, I cannot return to Croatia until I have reached my goal of $1,000 a month.  Therefore, if you would like to partner with me in reaching the unreached people of the Roma Villages, please click on the Financial Partner button at the bottom of the page. 

Please pray for me as I continue to walk by faith. I am really excited to see how you’re prayers are going to bring change to the Roma Villages! God Bless You. 

Your Sister in Christ,
Rebecca  

Finding My Family

There have been times in my life where the overwhelming sense of loneliness left me feeling isolated and separated from the rest of the world. For me, it didn’t matter that I had a family that loved me, friends that cared for me, or even a church in where I could go to hear the Word of God taught. I would read scriptures that proclaimed the truth of God never leaving me nor forsaking me, yet in those moments, He felt so far away. Since coming home from Croatia in July, I’ve experienced many moments like this. Moments of longing to fit in. Moments of desiring to be like the people around me. Moments of asking the Lord why He’s given me such a strong burden for the lost abroad, all while wondering why I couldn’t just stay in California and be like most of my friends and family so that I can feel normal and accepted. Time and time again, I fell on my face asking the Lord for forgiveness for those thoughts even crossing my mind. Christ had to teach me that I am not called to fit in. I won’t ever feel at home here on earth again but that’s okay because my citizenship is in Heaven.

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ .”
Phil 3:20


Since coming back to California, I’ve had the opportunity to serve at Saving Grace World Missions’ home base. For those of you who don’t know, SGWM comes alongside missionaries to help them accomplish what the Lord is calling them to do successfully. They work relentlessly to make sure that the needs of missionaries are being met. They routinely have Skype meetings with them to make sure that they are doing okay. They also have weekly prayer meetings in where they intercede for those on the missions field front lines. They send out newsletters and countless amounts of other emails. Overall, they are the missionaries that work super hard here in the states, so that the missionaries abroad can do the work that the Lord has called them to do more effectively. It has been one of the sweetest seasons. I get to work with people who love Jesus and live out their calling every day. I get to talk to people all over the world, whether through Skype, email or in person, who are servants of the Lord, living radical lives for the sake of the Gospel. It’s like I’m reading a different missionary’s biography every day I go into the office. It’s so extremely encouraging to hear what the Lord is doing around the world through His Body.

As followers of Jesus, we belong to the Body of Christ. We become a part of a new community. A new people group that we will spend eternity with. In Heaven, there won’t be different denominations. In Heaven, there won’t be churches that are separated by disputes or disagreements. There will only be one body, one group of people, who will be on their faces, for eternity, worshiping THE GREAT I AM. Just thinking about it makes me want to cry and praise the One who created this community for us, so that we may thrive together on this earth for the spreading of the gospel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last Sunday, I had my dessert gathering. For those of you who don’t know what a dessert gathering is, it’s just a time of me being able to share what the Lord is doing in my life and the vision that He has given me for a group of people that don’t know Him, all while eating delicious desserts. In other words, as pastor Trent put it, ‘I was the mouthpiece that the Lord chose to use, to bring awareness about the Roma villages to people who would never have known about them otherwise.’

I’m not going to lie, I was terrified that no one was going to show up. I was scared, discouraged, and I was feeling that sense of loneliness that I described at the beginning of this post. And satan, knowing where to hit the hardest, made me feel like no one cared. I didn’t share this with anyone at the time and even now I am so ashamed to even write these words, and to admit that I was starting to buy into these lies. BUT GOD IS SO FAITHFUL! As people started to walk into the room, I heard His still small voice saying, “These are your people, this is what the Body of Christ is for,  this is the community I’ve placed you in.”  It was overwhelming and humbling at the same time. My God, the Creator of the Universe, revealed to me that night what it looks like to be a part of His body, His community and He used people I knew and a lot that I didn’t. If you think that’s awesome, just wait there’s more! This is how good our God is, He doesn’t just reveal lies for what they are, He demolishes them.  At the end of the night, Pastor Trent asked anyone who wanted to lay hands on me and pray to come up to the front of the room. One by one, everyone in the room stood out of their chairs and came to the front. I stood there speechless, humbled by His love, and on the verge of tears. This is my family and I can’t wait to spend eternity with them, praising Jesus!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lord reminded me that I have a community. A group of people who welcomed me in and saw me as one of their own. I belong to this Body, not because I deserve it but because Christ has given it to me, as a gift that is to be cherished. All the moments in where I felt rejected, lost, isolated, and alone didn’t matter anymore because that night Christ showed me that I wasn’t. I needed Him to show me, and though He didn’t have to, He still chose to. I am so extremely grateful. Words can’t even describe the amount of gratitude I have in my heart towards those who have come alongside me. This past weekend, the Lord revealed His love towards me through His body of believers and I was left overwhelmed by Him.

The Waiting Period

The waiting period.

 

Also known as the most difficult season in my book. The anticipation of being sent out. The eagerness to get where you are going. The longing to be where you know where the Lord has called you. The yearning, the tears, the prayers that are lifted up, the crying out to God. I wish I could write that I’ve been excelling in this area of my walk but to be completely honest with you guys, it has been an area in where I constantly have to seek the Lord and ask for forgiveness.

 

It’s funny how we as humans plan out our lives. As an American, I am used to the here and now. Why wait in line for five minutes at Starbucks when I can order the coffee on my phone and not have to wait at all. Our culture has been trained to not wait. Yet countless times in scripture, we are told to wait on the Lord.

 

“I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, And in His word I do hope.”
Ps. 130:5

 

קָוָה
To expect. Wait for, on, upon. To gather together. All words used to define the Hebrew word, wait, in the scripture above. In other words, we wait with expectancy. We gather together everything we need in preparation knowing that the Lord is going to lead us out of the waiting. We have our oil lamps prepared and ready to go, so that when the Lord says ‘let’s do this,’ you’re ready to go.

 

I never really understood the real purpose behind the waiting season up until a couple of months ago. I’ve always heard and been taught that through the waiting season, your patience grows and you learn to depend on the Lord and though that is true, there is so much more!

 

I look back to July of last year. I was sitting in a meeting with SGWM pouring out my heart about Croatia and the burden the Lord has given me for the Roma communities. I remember telling Pastor Trent that I needed to be back in Croatia by the end of August. I also remember him telling me, it’s not impossible but let’s see what the Lord will do. I walked out of that meeting excited that I had a group of people who believed in the work that the Lord had called me to and wanted to partner with me but at the same time I was also ready to show them that I could make it back to Croatia before the end of August.

 

Since then, I’ve had to ask the Lord for forgiveness for trying to get a step ahead of Him. God knew my desire to return but He also knew that I wasn’t fully ready. In a sense, I hadn’t gathered together everything I needed to do the work that He has called me to do successfully.

 

This past couple of months, I’ve never appreciated the waiting season more. It’s in this past couple of months that I’ve scratched the surface of understanding the true meaning behind the waiting. I can say that I’ve learned more about cross-cultural ministries than I have ever learned before. I can say that I’ve learned so much through the lives of other missionaries that went before me in the past. I can even say that I’ve learned the significance of meeting with a mentor weekly and discussing the word of God but also spending time in prayer without time constraints. But most importantly, I’ve learned the real meaning behind the phrase

 

 “He’s in the waiting.” 
You see, the season of waiting isn’t just a time of praying. It’s a time of doing! It’s a time of taking steps towards where the Lord is calling you so that when He says ‘Let’s go’ you are ready. It’s a time of preparation, studying God’s Word, increasing your knowledge, praying for wisdom, sharing with others, and the list goes on and on.  It’s not easy and many times you need to come alongside believers and ask them to hold up your arms so that the battle may continue to be won but what the Lord has for you, in the end, makes it worth every tear you shed, every prayer that is spoken and every lesson that is learned.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I still long to be back in the Roma communities with the children and women that I miss so much, it hurts. I want to be able to hug the women, this being the only affection that they get throughout the week. I want to hang out with the young ladies of the village and help them with little things like doing their hair because I can’t fully communicate with them. I want to play with the kids, sharing God’s love with them. I want to continue to bring light into a community where darkness is what is seen and experienced daily. And though my prayer is to return soon, I have the full assurance that what the Lord has promised to do, He will complete in His perfect timing.

 

I long for the day when I can see my Roma family again but until then I have to continue to prepare myself for the return. I have to continue to remain in His Word, I have to continue in prayer, I have to continue telling people about this group of beautiful people that many don’t know even exist, I have to continue raising support, and most importantly I have to continue to find people who would come alongside me in prayer. I am currently still in need of people who feel led to give financially each month. If the Lord has placed the work in Croatia on your heart and you feel led to start giving, click HERE to become a financial partner. Once I have enough monthly support raised, I’ll be able to head back to Croatia, long term.

 

I know how difficult this season can be. Let me encourage you to remain faithfully active towards what the Lord is calling you to. Surround yourself with people who are on fire for the Lord and build one another up. David Guzik said this in his commentary of Numbers 32, “If you want to press on with the things of the Lord and go deeper and further with Him, there is a sure way to discourage the desire- start hanging around believers who are content with where they are and who don’t want to press on with the Lord. Complacency is contagious.” Let’s not be the people who lead our friends and family to complacency in the Lord by the way we live our lives but rather lets be the generation that challenges one another to go further in our walks, to live out the gospel, to step outside of our comfort zones and to live fully surrendered radical lives for the Lord!

 

If you need prayer for anything or simply someone to listen and come alongside you, email me. I would love nothing more than to be able to be praying for you in any way possible!

 

God bless!

 

–Though I am not in Croatia at this moment, I do receive pictures from the kids. Enjoy the pictures and continue to pray for them!