Ten hours drive away (900km/ 560 miles) is Tuzla in Bosnia. Whereas Friendship Church has its own building, New Hope Church now meets in an apartment on the second floor of an office block. The congregation numbers are smaller, but in all other respects the ministries are similar. Caring for orphans, working with families of children with special needs, visiting senior citizens in their state-run home and for the past three or four years helping refugees on their way to the West. This past year has seen the refugee corridor move from Serbia to Bosnia and there is a constant flow of refugee families arriving in Tuzla and other Bosnian towns.
When I visited the church, a team of members were at the bus station with a car full of blankets, clothes, medicines, food and hot water for drinks. They found a mother andthree year-old child alone, having alighted from a bus, and took them back to the church overnight. The mother sat through the Sunday service and enjoyed lunch with the church. Afterwards she had to be taken to the Police Station, and so we don’t know what happened to her. The following night two families with babies arrived at the bus station and were given a bed for the night. Winter is harsh in Bosnia with snow on the ground for months and hundreds of refugees are sleeping in tents around the town of Bihac near the Croat border. There is no end to the situation in sight. No political party wants to be involved, so it is left to very few humanitarian organisations and Christians to offer love and practical help. Again and again the refugees ask ‘why are you helping us?’ And we know how the team would reply!