Bosnians get a new nation but ask themselves, Who am I?
To pray effectively for 4.4 million people in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) we need to think in threes:
- 1) Ethnically, Bosnia and Herzegovina are essentially Bosniaks, Croats or Serbs.
2) Religiously, these three groups are predominantly Muslim Bosniaks, predominantly Roman Catholic Croats, and predominantly Orthodox Serbs.
3) Bringing the Good News to a Bosnian is difficult from the human point of view. Becoming a Christian is likened to changing ones nationality. Giving up ones ethnical background is equal to betrayal.
After the bloody civil war in the early 1990s, the country of Bosnia and Herzegovina emerged as a new nation. For the first time after nearly fifty years of living under Tito’s communism and the suppression of religion, people are being suddenly confronted with three questions: “Who am I? What am I? What sets me apart?”
Young and Muslim, Adnan attended an evangelistic summer camp this year. Every morning he joined to study the gospels and learn how Jesus handled people with love. He was very impressed by the things he heard and also the fellowship that he sensed. When asking him if he wanted to consider to start following Jesus, he replied: “I really agree with the things we have read and I like what Jesus did, but I can never become Christian, because I’m born Muslim.” This statement depicts just how deep the impact of ethnic Muslim identity has on its people.
In the midst of a nation’s identity crisis, God is moving among the Muslims. The Bosnian people are known for their love of relationship, their warm hospitality and their passion for coffee. You’ll find many conversations about Jesus taking place in the most informal settings, around living room coffee tables and crowded cafes. Bosnians are coming to the Triune God through Christ and finding a new identity and lasting peace in Him.
Ministries in Bosnia and Herzegovina request your prayers:
* According to estimates by the World Tourism Organization, Bosnia and Herzegovina will have the third highest tourism growth rate in the world by 2020. Let us pray that Christian tourists will spend part of their holiday reaching out in love and also to conduct prayer walks on their travels.
* Pray for the Bosnian Evangelical Student Movement which has 10 study groups all over the country. Give thanks for the increased interest in their work and their faith. Pray that more Muslim students will start to read the Bible with them.
* Pray for the church which is often restricted by tradition and orthodox codes, for the Holy Spirit to bring unity and freedom through the message of the Gospel. (John 6:63, 10:10)
* Pray that the door remains open to share Christ freely with Muslims in this nation.
* Pray for continued peace. Tensions between the three constitutional peoples remain.
During the war, Middle Eastern nations helped finance and supply the Bosnian Muslims. Some even came to fight themselves and after the war, took Bosnian wives and stayed in the country. Muslim fundamentalists are funneling into the nation, handing out money for children’s schooling, widow’s pensions and paying women to wear the veil. Bosnia and Herzegovina is a pivotal fault line between the East and West, between Islam and Christianity. It is said that if Bosnia can become a recognized Muslim nation, the door into the rest of Europe will open wide to Islam.
There is a great need for healing and forgiveness over the land. Reconciliation continues to be a ministry focus but requires Godly peace-makers to come between the ethnic and religious divides.
Background on Bosnia and Herzegovina (World Factbook)
Bosnia and Herzegovina’s declaration of sovereignty in October 1991 was followed by a declaration of independence from the former Yugoslavia on 3 March 1992 after a referendum boycotted by ethnic Serbs. The country is home to three ethnic groups, or so-called “constituent peoples”, a term unique for Bosnia-Herzegovina. Bosniaks are the largest group of the three, with Serbs second and Croats third. Regardless of ethnicity, a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina is often identified in English as a Bosnian. The terms Herzegovinian and Bosnian are maintained as a regional rather than ethnic distinction, and Herzegovina has no precisely defined borders of its own.
There is a strong correlation between ethnic identity and religion in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Muslims constitute 45% of the population, Orthodox 36%, Roman Catholics 15%, and other groups, including Jews and Protestants, 4%
Economy of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Although agriculture is almost all in private hands, farms are small and inefficient, and the republic traditionally is a net importer of food. The private sector is growing and foreign investment is slowly increasing, but government spending, at nearly 40% of adjusted GDP, remains unreasonably high. Bosnia and Herzegovina became a member of the Central European Free Trade Agreement in December 2006. The country receives substantial reconstruction assistance and humanitarian aid from the international community but will have to prepare for an era of declining assistance.
About Bosnia and Herzegovina
Population: 3,875,723 (July 2012 est.) World rank #128
Life expectancy at birth: 76.12 years. World rank #86
Ethnic groups: Bosniak 48%, Serb 37.1%, Croat 14.3%, other 0.6% (2000)
Note: Bosniak has replaced Muslim as an ethnic term in part to avoid confusion with the religious term Muslim – an adherent of Islam
Religions: Muslim 40%, Orthodox 31%, Roman Catholic 15%, other 14%
Languages: Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian
School life expectancy: 14 years
Sights and Sounds of Bosnia & Herzegovina Video