The First Christian Contact in Yugoslavia


(This story is taken from a fantastic biography about Brother Andrew, called The Narrow Road)

My first stop was Zagreb. I had been given the name of a Christian leader there, whom I shall call Jamil. The name had come from the Dutch Bible Society, which listed him as a man who occa­sionally ordered Bibles in quantity. However, they had not heard from him since Tito had become premier in 1945. I hardly dared hope that he would still be living at the same address, but with no other choice, I had written a carefully worded letter stating that toward the end of March a Dutchman might visit his coun­try. And now I was driving into Zagreb looking for his address.

To underline the wonders of that first Christian contact in Yugoslavia, I shall have to tell what happened to my letter, even though of course I did not know the whole story until later. It had been delivered to the address all right, but Jamil had long since moved. The new tenant did not know his whereabouts and returned the letter to the post office. There it was held up for two weeks while a search was made for Jamil's new address. On the very day I entered Yugoslavia it was finally delivered. Jamil read it, puzzled. Who was this mysterious Dutchman? Was it safe to try contacting him?

With nothing better than a vague feeling that he should do something, Jamil boarded a tram and went to his old apartment house. But then what? Jamil stood on the sidewalk wondering how to proceed. Had the Dutchman already arrived and gone about asking for a certain Jamil? Did he dare go to the new ten­ant with the suspicious story that someday an unknown Dutch­man might call asking for him? What on earth should he do?

And it was at that moment that I pulled up to the curb and stopped my car. I stepped out not more than two feet away from Jamil, who of course recognized me at once from my license plates. He seized my hands, and we put our stories together.

Jamil was overjoyed at having a foreign Christian in his coun­try. He repeated the theme I had heard first in Poland, that my "being there," meant everything. They felt so isolated, so alone. Of course he would help me set up contacts with the believers in his country. He knew just the man to translate for me. So a few days later, with a young engineering student named Nikola as my guide and interpreter, I set off in my blue Volkswagen to bring "greetings" to the Yugoslavian Christians.

Open Doors, Brother Andrew with John & Elizabeth Sherrill, The Narrow Road, Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 2001, p. 152-153.

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