Mentorship and Discipleship: A Winter Update

During each of the last four winters we've been able to spend some time at a thermal pool in Slovenia with Petra's parents for a few days. There are various slides and attractions for young kids so it's become a highlight for our children. This year it was an especially timely visit as it allowed us to relax as a family before our busy winter schedule started.

When we looked back at this picture, we realized it's an excellent illustration of the newest phase of our ministry. Over time, the focus of our ministry has begun to center around mentorship.

The word "mentor" doesn't have a Croatian translation. By many accounts, the concept is missing here. Numerous experienced pastors and leaders have no one to pass the baton to while most of the strong younger leaders have had to learn by themselves. Our observation is that a lack of mentorship is one of the biggest issues facing the Evangelical Church in Croatia today.

That's one of the reasons I (Jeremy) have decided to accept the position of National Commander of Royal Rangers in Croatia. Royal Rangers Europe is a scout program designed to equip children and teenagers for Christian service. Over the next few months I will be working with a new board to prepare, with help from a Slovenian team, a national training session right here in Orahovica on May 1st weekend.

This opportunity has been on the horizon for awhile now. Three years ago, I represented Croatia in Paris at the Royal Rangers European Leaders Meeting. Soon after, I was trained in Serbia. This week I will hold the first board meeting and next week I will travel to Poland to again represent Croatia. During this preparation phase I have been praying through Jeremiah 42:3 "...that the Lord our God may show us the way we should go and the thing we should do." Please join us in prayer for wisdom and direction as we seek to mentor and disciple future Christian leaders in Croatia. 

Here are a few other things we're looking forward to this year:
  • As we've done in the past, we are continuing to host couples get-togethers in our home. Recently a Croatian Christian organization translated and began distributing materials from FamilyLife and encouraged various churches to hold their own couples nights once a month. There are 25 other churches throughout Croatia that will also be meeting. This will give us the opportunity to continue the tradition we began a couple years ago, but now with more direction and regularity. 
  • Camps have always been a highlight of our year. This year, we will increase our involvement by joining Family Camp - a fairly obvious step for us! Petra will serve on a new board and will have a major role in developing the program, schedule and logistical parts of this camp. 
  • As we mentioned in our last update, I have begun serving as the Associate Pastor of our church. Thankfully, our pastor is sensitive to the fact that I need to grow into the role. He's one of the pastors who was never mentored. Yet, he has done an excellent job teaching me what it means to be in ministry in Croatia.
Related to this is a clip from the Gospel Coalition on advice veteran pastors would give young leaders. If you don't have 6 minutes to watch the whole clip, here are few things Dave Helm said that really stuck out to me: 

God tends to train people the way He always has. He puts you in some obscure, out of the way place and you're there 40 years. Then that person is ready to go!...What God has really done, is He plants you in one little place, keeps you out of the way and He wants you to work there for a long time. The longevity of faithful service is the way God prepares us to do the work. There's no shortcut.

The Lord has directed our steps to a place I never imagined I would be. And while Petra's leadership in camps "makes sense" given the fact that she grew up attending camps in this very town, the ways God has called me to serve are so different than I imagined. Yet, He has confirmed his calling at every step. And he has provided for us throughout.

Our faithful family, supporters and friends are a huge part of that. We are not here on our own. In fact we are so thankful for the position of dependency we have been put in. Thank you for being part of God's provision and blessing in our lives.

Your partners in Christ,

The Bohalls