Before returning to the States in April, we’d already been in conversation with our mentors at Peace Catalyst International to think through where God could be calling us to next. And Bosnia was on the top of all of our radars.
As we’ve been back, we’ve spent time with family (Jack has needed some solid grandparent time!), reconnected with friends, and started to learn how to contribute to Peace Catalyst’s Jesus-centered peace building work in the States.
At the same time, though, we’ve been actively planning for our next steps to Bosnia.
In May, I went on my first trip to Bosnia with Peace Catalyst mentor and friend, David Vidmar (read a trip summary here). That first trip was to connect with Peace Catalyst connections and network with interfaith peace building organizations in Bosnia to determine whether there were positive ways for Peace Catalyst staff to contribute to local peace building efforts. The trip was a huge encouragement and incredibly thought-provoking.
In late August, I’ll return for some follow-up conversations with Protestant Christian congregations and peace building organizations in Sarajevo, as well as try to develop further connections with the Catholic Croat and Orthodox Serb religious leaders and communities (in May, we were primarily able to connect with Muslim Bosniaks and local Protestant communities).
From late September to November, we (Stephanie, Bryan, and little Jack) will be staying in Bosnia as a family to establish some life rhythms as well as deepening our connection to potential partner organizations. After having some concerns about unethical behavior in the non-profit world in the Balkans, we’re approaching international partnerships with much more patience. In Bosnia, this patience is especially needed because of the deep distrust between Muslim Bosniaks, Catholic Croats, and Orthodox Serbs, so we hope to wade into relationships and partnerships with extra care, time, and transparency so that we can more effectively build positive relationships in each community.
In November, Stephanie will no longer be able to fly, because we’re due with baby #2!!! So, after digging into life and partnership issues in Bosnia as a family, we’ll return to the States for the delivery. We expect the new little one in January! By early spring 2018, we hope to have clarity about an organizational partnership for our return to Bosnia long term. Prayers appreciated for a healthy pregnancy, labor, and delivery!
In the meantime (currently, then from November until our return to Bosnia as a family), we’ll studying Bosnian in the States, continue to follow up with contacts and potential partners in Sarajevo, and contribute to Peace Catalyst’s ongoing efforts to build bridges between Stateside Christian and Muslim congregations. Several small groups and churches in the US have expressed interest in developing relationships with their local Muslim communities, learning more about one another’s beliefs and practices, and collaborating for the common good in their communities by doing projects together. We have an amazing opportunity to put into practice in the States (and in English!) the work we were beginning in Kosovo and are planning to do in Bosnia.
If you’re interested in getting more involved in Jesus-centered peacemaking in your community or with your church, please let us know – we’d be excited to journey with you.