Ingrained skepticism towards Christianity provides a challenge for Nazarenes in Slovenia. Yet, people are coming to Christ and are being discipled in this Central European republic.
One person out of 30 commits suicide in Slovenia. Out of two million inhabitants, there are only around 1,000 Evangelical Christians.
Slovenia, the northernmost republic of the former Yugoslavia, is a small country about the size of New Jersey that lies just south of Austria and just east of northern Italy. Shortly after the Church of the Nazarene started a church there, SloNaz Mission was established in the capital city of Ljubljana (population 350,000).
In May 2000, the first Youth In Mission team arrived. Since then, a steady stream of long- and short-term Nazarene volunteers-about 70 in the last 10 years-have helped proclaim the kingdom of God in the midst of intense spiritual darkness. The church, established in 2002, continues to serve in a unifying and healing role among the few, small, fragmented Evangelical churches that exist in Ljubljana.
Our primary ministries focus on evangelism and discipleship. Through small groups, one-on-one relationships, a mid-week discipleship gathering, and Sunday worship services, people are experiencing transformation in Christ. We have a solid core group who attend our Sunday worship faithfully, but we also attract more than 100 visitors each year.
This is all quite remarkable for a people who have experienced so much historical tumult. Since 1991 when they won their independence from Yugoslavia, Slovenia has been a democratic nation. For over 40 years the gospel was repressed through the influence of Communism. It is now repressed through the influence of secular humanism. The vast majority of Slovenes remain skeptical about Christianity, which is evidenced by strong religious prejudices and resistance to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Not many Christian books are written or translated in the Slovene language. Recently, I wrote one on discipleship based on the teachings of Jesus. Fragments of Light has just been translated into Slovene and will be published this fall and used throughout the country. This will greatly enhance our influence, which continues to focus on making Christlike disciples in the nations.
The following testimonies give evidence to the blessing of God on the SloNaz Mission . . .
I cannot stop thanking God for what He did through the Church of the Nazarene. I was under a hard depression and suicidal thinking for almost 20 years. For a very long time only the fear of going to hell stopped me from killing myself. But help came . . .
God had to do a miracle in me. I was healed in an instant by the word that God spoke through Daniel. I think only those who try to kill themselves know what suffering it is to be in bondage to the spirit of death. I still praise God for freedom. For a couple of days after that moment it felt like I was floating on the air, so free I was from the constant death wish. I can now worship God in freedom!
I met Jesus by a happy "coincidence." A few years ago I was blessed to come in contact with a Nazarene missionary in Ljubljana. I had been going to a Catholic church, but I really didn't think much about God. I was preoccupied with my family, my job, studies, and work at home. In spite of all this, I felt that something was missing, like I had an empty space in my heart, which was waiting to be filled with something very special.
I started to read books about Jesus, and I started to visit this church, which was so refreshing. Now I really look forward to Sundays. I also got involved with the Bible study group, where I find a great opportunity to share my thoughts, concerns, and love with other believers.
During those initial days my inward need to get to know Jesus gradually became so strong that I finally gave my life to Jesus. To show my inward relationship with Him outwardly, I was baptized in May 2009. I'm very thankful for the initiative of the Church of the Nazarene. It has enriched my life and is such a blessing to my family and me.
I have been blessed many times by the friendship, acceptance, and love I felt every time I came to the weekly Bible study in the last few years. The women have been there for me when I needed an understanding ear and advice from a Christian perspective. The Bible study also offers more than just learning about the Word, as important as that is. The fellowship we experience, the meals we have, the laughs we share, the prayers we pray, and knowing there is always somebody there for you who cares-it is all so important to my ongoing development as a Christian Slovene. Thank you, Church of Nazarene, for your eternal investment in us!
I was invited to the church where missionaries from the Church of the Nazarene meet and work. I also found out about their Bible study that goes on every Tuesday, and later the holiness group that meets on Wednesdays-both led by Nazarenes. I found them all to be very helpful for my spiritual growth. I must say that they all seek first the kingdom of God and not just the Church of the Nazarene. This is what Slovenia needs!
Daniel Psaute is a global missionary for the Church of the Nazarene in Slovenia.
Holiness Today, May/June 2010