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MISSION WITHOUT BORDERS
"Reaching people for Christ: Helping people out of poverty into a sustainable future."

Love is strong: reflecting on OCL and Srebrenica

Reflections of Dalibor Kojic, MWB's Field Manager in Bosnia-Herzegovina

01/01/2018

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I was born and raised 90km drive from Srebrenica, in the city of Tuzla, where many refugees from Srebrenica found new homes during and after the war. I remember the day of Srebrenica massacre every year.

Part of the reason is that in 1993 on July 11th I started a relationship with a girlfriend that became my wife on July 11th 1998. So that date reminds me personally on life and death of us humans who got opportunity from God to share the same piece of land under the sky.

2016 was the first time I visited that area in my life. Most of people used to joke with me because I talk a lot. I am also very emotional. After my first visit I was speechless and in two weeks' time during my second visit, emotionally, I was overawed for a time. As son, father, husband, brother, pastor, humanitarian worker and Christian, as person who understands the power of sin in this fallen world, I was anyway shocked and aware how it is easy to underestimate the sin; that comes from evil one, from past hurts and pains, from relationships or from our sinful desires. And who knows where else from.

We arrived in Srebrenica and started to deliver the parcels late afternoon. It was already dark. We had a help from Christian worker there who works among Serbian population. She took us to the old lady who was delight to see us and receive the OCL parcel.

There are many elderly and lonely people in this area. Her neighbor pleased we visited her too. She let us enter into her home and her husband was laying on the bed. He has only one leg, other he lost during work accident. She starts to cry: "You do not know, but today is our 50th wedding anniversary. You are the only ones who visited us." This was so extraordinary in God's plan to happen, and we have been honored to be part of this joy. She showed us some photos around room, some painful memories; her daughter died in her late 20's in car accident. As Srebrenica was becoming more silent and covered with smoke from the chimneys, we asked our Bosniak (Muslim) contact to take us to her relative. We knock on the door, then on the window; we see the light inside, but we are aware we come without announcement and woman inside must be afraid. After a few minutes we established contact and she opened the door and welcomed us. Again a lot of photos around, painful memories on what happened in 1995.


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But she starts to smile after tears and asks our names, full of thankfulness for visit and OCL parcel: "Let me take you to my friend, I help her, she lives alone.", she said and cheerfully made us move on. We jump into the car, a bit too many people for one vehicle, and we climb up hill to the next house. We are welcomed, we gave Christmas parcel, but this woman had sorrow on her face all the time. We came in and she took a photo and said: "This is my son". On the photo there was a young boy between 16 and 17, in civil clothes, kneeling with tied hands behind his back, waiting for a special forces soldier to shoot him. I was paralyzed. I remember watching his execution on TV, when this terrifying video was revealed. That picture will stay in my mind as long as I live. One of the women said: "We do not live here because we like it or to defy our neighbors. We are here because we do not want to leave our dead children alone."


Talking about reconciliation, I see that mothers from both sides of conflict who lost their children in the war or in other ways, know best what matters. Their hearts are still full of love for their sons and daughters. I believe they are in constant pain because of loss of dear ones. Nothing will bring them back. Like the message of the cross that carries the pain and suffering, where Heavenly Father looks how His Son is being killed by the people He desires to save from sins and give eternal life and fellowship with Him; this tragedy reminds me how love is strong.

I can only pray for the comfort of those who are to continue to live in pain and for divine work of Holy Spirit in this area to bring reconciliation. The traces of that I have seen and testified, but in general there is a long way to rebuild trust and peace. I do not doubt it is possible to God. Jesus said that blessed are peace makers, for they will be called the children of God. We are all to contribute for that to happen.

As I write this story, I have to stop several times to take away the tears to be able to continue. I am not full of anger or judgement. I am disappointed and saddened. We as humans are sometimes so stubborn, and we want our rights now, not the good for all, for our children and generations to come. I again remembered the sermon of Franklin Graham where he said that Jesus died for all sorts of us sinful people to be offered with forgiveness. Hard to believe. I am often asked why situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina does not improve after so many years since the war. We need repentance to heal our country, or we will stay in poverty and potential war again. Our broken relationship, trust and identities need Jesus the prince of Peace, Jesus the Savior of all people and the Lord of our lives to take all our pain from now and the past, and set us free for present and eternal time.

I leave you with two verses that have been close to me these last few weeks:

2 Chron 7:14: If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

John 8:36; So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed