Exciting News

We're moving to Zagreb!

In May we accepted an invitation to work with an evangelical church in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. We will be working with a young, vibrant evangelical church whose pastor we’ve known for more than ten years. This is an exciting opportunity for our family!

Zagreb, Croatia
Moving to the capital is significant for our kingdom work: Zagreb is Croatia’s leading city,  a place where lots of young people go to college and begin their careers. A prominent leader recently said, “Where the people go, the gospel needs to go.” We are honored to serve alongside a pastor whose vision we share while filling a need for full-time workers.

  • Jeremy’s role: Teaching Bible studies. Leading the national scout ministry he began three years ago. Preaching occasionally and teaching English.
  • Petra’s focus: Preparing the kids for their new school and preschool situations. Transitioning our family to city life. As things stabilize she will also take on ministry work.
  • Enoh and Ian: 2nd and 1st grade students respectively. Deepening friendships with Zagreb friends and exploring numerous extra-curricular options.
  • Emily and David: Discovering new play places.

This move will impact our financial situation. The transition from country to city-life means that our expenses will increase. Our estimate based on current economic data is that the cost of living is 20% more than in Orahovica.  We’re looking to increase our monthly support by $500. We ask you to join us in prayer for the Lord to provide.

The backstory: During our recent sabbatical that included prayer and numerous conversations with trusted advisers, we felt the Lord preparing us for a change. We received biblical guidance as we sought the Lord’s direction for our lives and ministry.

In March we began a transition from the church in Orahovica we served with for eight years. There we had plenty of freedom to discover and grow in the gifts God gave us. This was an invaluable part of our lives, so we are leaving with bittersweet feelings.

The sabbatical and transition season has been both challenging and beneficial. We’ve had the chance to breathe, spend more time in prayer, read and build relationships. We’ve also had to redefine ministry goals, church roles and lead our family into unanticipated change. We trust that the Lord will finish the good work he began.

Prayer requests:
  • For peace, wisdom and guidance as we move and begin life in the city.
  • That the Lord will provide for our increased financial needs.
  • That we become, collectively, a benefit and blessing to our new local church. One of the attractive things about the invitation to this church was that it fit both the church’s needs and Jeremy’s strengths.
  • For our children. Enoh had a great teacher and school situation in Orahovica. This move will be hardest on him. Pray for his teacher and friends in Zagreb. Ian will be starting first grade in a new city. Pray for his teacher and friends as well.

We thank you for your partnership with us in making disciples of Jesus Christ in Croatia. Please let us know if you have additional questions.

Your partners in Christ,

Jeremy, Petra, Enoh, Ian, Emily and David Bohall

2015: A Look Back

Jeremy here. 2015 was an incredible year for us. Petra and I celebrated 10 years of marriage. We taught a lot, traveled more than usual and were challenged in many areas of our lives. Here are a few of the highlights.

This year marked 10 years since my first camp experience in Orahovica. Although camps have been a constant, a lot has changed over that time. The building has been 99% renovated, there are more campers now than ever before and Petra and I have accepted full responsibility for hosting and coordinating camps. Each camp is different and every year brings new and varying challenges.

Camp Orahovica at night

  • All you need to do is scroll down to the next post to read more about the first three weeks of camp season which includes two kids camps and Young Adult Camp. 
  • If there's a climax of camp season it's Teen Camp because of the added challenges but also added satisfaction of seeing teenagers' lives changed. During Teen Camp, the teenagers voluntarily continued their final worship service for 2 extra hours while letting it overflow to the nearby ice-cream shop. 
  • The theme of Family Camp was (R)Evolution of the Family. There were four main couple speakers, each of whom represented a different decade of marriage - 10, 20, 30 and 40 years. During these sessions the kids all had their own age appropriate meetings. Afternoons were spent in free time for families and there were several excursions throughout the week.

Christian Education
One thing you may not know is that Christian Education is a public school subject in Croatia. Our church is accredited to teach Protestant Christian Education and Petra has been the teacher for the pre-teens and teenagers for a few years now. Her creativity and passion to do things well have helped her become an influential teacher in our church. Some of the main themes this year were worship and prayer with one of the highlights being a project that allowed the students to write their contemporary version of the Lord's prayer.

Royal Rangers
This year I fully dove in to Royal Rangers - both at the national level, leading a training camp for future leaders, and at the local level where I lead an outpost for our Orahovica children and teens. In October I had the privilege of going to Germany (and unknowingly Luxembourg) to receive the final level of Royal Ranger training which included a 24-hour survival trail in which we weren't allowed to bring a pack or sleeping bag.
Jeremy with the Regional Commander and the National Commanders of Slovenia and Serbia

During the training I was encouraged with these words: "Excellence brings glory to God." As the head of a ministry I am still learning about, I've been strengthened by the community in Royal Rangers and challenged by the demand of doing it well. The Lord has blessed me with a strong support system as I continue to learn the ropes of this Christian scout ministry.

Preaching and Teaching
This year saw the first fruits of my commitment to teach and preach in Croatian. It's still a struggle and I still need help editing my sermons and Bible studies. But I've seen a positive change - both in my communicating with the congregation and in my language skills - since I began teaching exclusively in Croatian in June. If you're interested in hearing what it sounds like, here's a sermon I preached on John 10:24-41 in a church about an hour from home. The sermon begins 56 minutes into the service.

I've heard life changes for a family once the first child starts going to school. That's certainly true in our case. Enoh started first grade in September and absolutely loves it. He's excelling in math and doing very well in Croatian. (Soon I may need to come to him for editing help!)

Ian started kindergarten while Emily and David stay at home. It's amazing to see the influence one pupil has on the other children. Both Ian and Emily have begun reading because of Enoh's newfound excitement for sounding out words he sees on books or signs.

Here is our family 2015 Year in Review video if you're interested in the sort of things grandparents love to watch, or if you're wondering what time of year Ian wore which glasses (none of which were necessary).

We are grateful for your support. As always, prayer is the most important way you can continue supporting us. We believe that what we are doing is the fruit of many years of prayer by those who are close to us and care for us. Happy New Year!

Jeremy, Petra, Enoh, Ian, Emily and David

Update: Camp Season in Full Force

In the middle of her other duties, Petra joined our Royal Ranger fire breathing workshop
We're right in the middle of our first camp season as the official hosts and organizers. Because of her 20 years of experience, the brunt of the logistical details fall on Petra's shoulders. It has certainly been a challenge but the fit is perfect; no one else has the combination of experience, skill and knowledge she has, and she immensely enjoys the job. This picture seems like an appropriate symbol for the numerous and diverse roles she has at camp. 

Here's a quick look back at the first three weeks of camp. 

2 weeks of kids camps - Evangelism One of the highlights of this years' kids camps is that we saw an increased number of non-churched children. Some of them come from abusive situations. For many of them, this is the first time they've been in a supportive atmosphere. The Good News they hear is very attractive because its accompanied by friendly faces and positive attention. Please pray for the Lord's continued work in their lives and protection as they return back to their less than ideal living situation. 

Young Adult Camp - Discipleship Our speaker this year was a professor from the seminary in Osijek who led the young people in studying the Bible. Our job in small groups was to find the exegetical and theological points of our assigned passages. During the evening sessions he taught on the Kingdom of Heaven using the parables in Matthew 13. There is no doubt we benefitted from meditating on a specific text for a week. At the end, one of the women in my small group remarked "I never knew the Bible was so deep!" 

Obviously, the fact that both dad and mom are so involved in camp means the kids are too. 

David enjoys playing guitar with one of the worship leaders

As you read this, teen camp is happening. At 90 teenagers + 20 staff this is the largest teen camp Orahovica has seen. To this point, things are going smoothly. One of the reasons we were able to accept all the campers who applied is because we have plenty of volunteers to serve. For example, a family from Serbia who came as participants last week are volunteering as cleaners this week.

Kamp Orahovica
Besides the prayer requests mentioned above, the biggest thing you can pray for right now is for several people to volunteer to help in the kitchen and clean next week at Family Camp. One of the special things about camp is that no one is paid. It has been amazing for me (Jeremy) to see how many wonderful people are willing to give up their vacation time to volunteer at these camps. Just to give you an idea, in the picture below are many of the volunteers. These people standing in front of our church are from other parts of Croatia and stayed between young adult camp and teen camp to help serve. Here they are being prayed for by several members of our church during last Sunday morning's service. 

Thank you for your continued partnership with us as we strive to evangelize and disciple through camps this summer.

In Christ,

The Bohalls

Keep It Going

I flew into Buffalo, NY late Saturday night and drove with my parents to a skilled nursing facility where my grandparents live. I had come to the States for one reason - to join the celebration of my grandparents' 70th anniversary. It had been a last-minute decision, so it came as a surprise to my grandparents.

As I sat with my grandmother while the others were preparing for the party, I asked her if she had any advice for those of us with less experience.

"Keep it going," she said simply. Then a few minutes later I overheard a conversation my grandfather was having with one of the guests. Upon learning that they were celebrating their 40th anniversary on the same day, he said "Keep it going." Hearing the same words from the two people who have kept it going for 70 years made an impression on me.

In fact, the more I thought about the message I realised there were two very important implications. First was the obvious one: commitment. In our 10 years of marriage Petra and I have had many wonderful moments mixed with several difficult times. Certainly God provides grace for us to get through the difficult moments, but there's also the need for determination and perseverance on our own part.

The words don't just apply to marriage. Grandma's words echoed several passages in the New Testament.

...Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us . . . (Heb. 12)

...straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on . . .  (Philippians 3)

But there was another thing I heard in my grandparents words. Keep it going to future generations. My grandparents' 70 years of marriage conveys to their children and their children's children the importance of commitment. It's a value often lost or taken for granted. Her challenge to me was to continue passing on the tremendous virtue of commitment. 

The overall focus of our ministry in Croatia is discipleship. Our passion is to see kids and teenagers grow in their desire to be committed followers of Jesus Christ. During this particular season we've had a tremendous opportunity to work closely with these young teenagers. Our goal is to see them pass on the good news to their friends and model discipleship for future generations. 

"Keep it going" is very much dependent on prayer. Your prayers for each of the individuals in this picture is much appreciated. Please also pray for our family as we're in the middle of the busiest season of the year - camp. There are several requests on the right side of this site, but if you're interested in praying more specifically we would love to send you a list of how you can pray for each week of camp. You can write to us at jeremy.bohall@gmail.com.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.  Amen. 

Pushed to the Extreme

“One of the goals of Royal Rangers is to push you to your limit” our regional leader explained to us during a preparatory training session. “You never know how you’re going to react in extreme circumstances unless you’ve been pushed to your extreme ahead of time.” 

This would be my third National Training Camp (NTC). My first was in Serbia as a participant. Last year I hosted and shadowed the leader so I would be prepared to lead in the future. This year the responsibility fell on me. Although I felt inadequate to lead, especially knowing my greatest weakness - public speaking in Croatian - would be exposed, I didn’t expect to be pushed to any particular extreme. 

Throughout the camp I felt even more sure that this training would pass without any major challenge. In comparison with the flood-like conditions and my lack of experience last year, this year’s added experience plus perfect weather and the number of leaders supporting our effort, convinced me that this would pass without difficulty. 

Then came Sunday morning. The finish line was ahead of us. Our award ceremony/church service would conclude the weekend and I felt okay. But as I began watching the slideshow summary of the weekend with the rest of the congregation tears began to well up. “What’s this?” I asked myself, stepping out of the sanctuary to collect myself before giving a report of the weekend.

I stood up to say how overwhelmed I was with thankfulness and nothing came out. I choked. This had never happened to me, in public or private. Another leader quickly took over and the show went on. But after the whole camp was over I had to process the whole event. 

In retrospect, I had been pushed to my limit. Physically I hadn’t slept more than five hours a night for the last six nights - a very unusual occurrence for me. When I stepped on the scale on Sunday afternoon I realised I had lost three kilos - six pounds - since Thursday. Although I hadn’t run or physically exerted myself as much as I have at other times, various things took their physical toll on me. 

Mentally I was spent as well. From preparing lectures and workshops to simply trying to give directions to convey what needed to happen in my second language was more of a burden than I expected. 

Spiritually I had been seeking God’s help more than I have in a long time. How would these details be taken care of? Would everyone be safe? What if this happened…or that? The responsibility of 38 people fell on my shoulders for the first time in my life and I pleaded with God for help much more often than I normally do. 

Finally, I had been pushed to my emotional limit. Throughout the weekend I had witnessed the growth of several of the young teenagers I work with. Additionally, leaders had come from Germany, Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia and the other side of Croatia to support our efforts. God had rained down his mercy upon this camp in the very practical forms of leadership, experience and support. And when I saw the evidence of it at the end, I couldn’t hold it in.

The point is, I was pushed to the limit. 

Isn’t that what we need? As a church, I believe we’re at our worst when we’re comfortable. Throughout the Bible, God’s people are called to serve the Lord with their heart, soul, mind and strength. How do we do so without being pushed to the extreme in each of those areas from time to time? Royal Rangers is a wholistic ministry aiming to equip men and women of God physically, mentally, socially and spiritually. Part of this equipping means challenging each individual in all four of these aspects of their life. 

In the end, I consider the training session a success. All of our goals were met, and teenagers and adults alike had been trained. And because of the number of eager leaders, beautiful weather and lack of unexpected obstacles, it was an enjoyable experience for many of us. 

But the greatest success was that many of us were pushed to our limit. This, I believe is an invaluable part of becoming and making disciples of Jesus Christ. 

“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13b-14)

Love and Marriage

We often pray that God gives us discernment and guidance as we try to figure out what parts of our ministry to let go of and what possible new things He wants us to be involved in. One of our biggest prayers is that no part of our work ever exists because of tradition or because of our own desire or need for it. We aim to work in accordance to His will.

Family and marriage ministry is not something either of us really considered much when we first started working here but God has really been leading us and it is increasingly becoming a bigger part of our work. As we mentioned in previous newsletters, we began a couples small group. We are now privileged to be just one of the almost 30 small groups that meet all over Croatia in affiliation with the organization ‘Family Life’. The Croatian ‘Family Life’ team has been a huge help and blessing to our marriage and family ministries. Together we were able to organize a one-day marriage seminar in October that 17 couples attended. The response was so positive that we have decided to make the seminar an annual event.

That same team from “Family Life’ helped us this summer as we took over leadership of the family camp in Orahovica. We are so grateful that although we had never even attended that camp, God gave us an amazing support team and the camp was a blessing to all who attended! It makes perfect sense that in this season of our life, God would have us focus on marriage and family ministry - it iswonderful to know that as we lead and serve in this area, God uses this work to mold and shape our marriage and family as well.

Unexpected Challenges

It was around the time our Slovenian leader informed us that he would be handing leadership over to me that I repeated the question I asked 15 years ago in Marine Corps boot camp; "What in the world have I gotten myself into?"

Of course a Christian scout program in my home town isn't as physically demanding or life-altering as the military was. I didn't have a drill instructor constantly yelling at me. I didn't have to run miles in the South Carolina heat.

Still, the National Training Camp I experienced on May 1st weekend was a challenge.

First there was the language barrier. Although I've made a lot of progress speaking publicly, the fact is that it's still difficult for me to speak Croatian off the cuff in front of people. Adding to the challenge was the fact that I don't know a lot of scout terminology. This was the first time I was using words like "torch", "pine tree", and "outpost" in Croatian.

But there was an interesting and comforting side to the language challenge - the fact that all of a sudden Croatian was the Lingua Franca. We had leaders and participants from all of the former Yugoslavian countries - Slovenia, Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia. And even though Croatian is quite different from Macedonian and Slovenian, we spoke Croatian throughout. In other words, there were many others for whom the language was a challenge.
Women from Slovenia, Serbia, Croatia and Macedonia work together to form a human knot

Another difficulty was the weather. By the time Saturday came around we were already wet. Yet from Saturday at 9 am it would rain until the end of camp on Sunday at noon. The Junior Leaders Training (JLTC)  program required the 14-17 year olds to hike and camp out in the woods. They did so in flood-like conditions. The rest of the leaders in training also slept in tents at our campsite on church ground. By the end we concluded that the conditions couldn't have been any worse - even snow would have been easier to deal with.
Leaders and participants of the JLTC ready to hike to their campsite in the rain
The final challenge for me was my lack of experience. I did not grow up in a scout program and I have relatively little experience with Royal Rangers Europe. During the weekend, I attended the various workshops on building fires, first aid and nature so I could brush up on some things I had learned a few years ago when I trained in Serbia. Still, my knowledge of all things scout related was/is limited.

But as the weekend concluded, I realized this was the whole point - to be challenged.

As the Croatian National Commander, I fully support Royal Rangers Europe because of the methods it provides for teaching, mentoring and discipling. One of the key aspects of Ranger training is throwing someone into the fire often before they feel they are ready for it. Many participants who received a diploma by the end were completely taken by surprise when they were told they would sleep outside regardless of the rain. They didn't realize they would have to cook their own food over an open fire or that they would have to build their own campsite with their teammates. The NTC provided many unexpected challenges for everyone.

And isn't that the way it should be? The New Testament frequently reminds us to "run with endurance" (Hebrews 12:1) or to "endure hardship as discipline" (Hebrews 12:11) or to "test our faith" (II Corinthians 13:5). The challenges we were presented with gave us the chance to rely on Christ and put our faith in action. I believe this training camp helped to strengthen and equip future leaders to endure and overcome the challenges they will undoubtedly face in the future.
A team of representatives from Slovenia, Croatia and Macedonia work together to build their campsite on the first day
As we look to the future of this program in Croatia, the only way we can succeed is if it is a team effort. Royal Rangers will not survive without a group of dedicated servants. After all, RR doesn't exist for itself. Rather it serves the work of the local church. Our vision is to evangelize, teach and equip young boys and girls for Christian service. These goals should mesh with the vision the local church has for its community and be a tool pastors can use to strengthen their communities. But it cannot and should not be an individual effort.

Before the training camp began I sent out an email to many of our supporters asking for them to pray specifically for one of the days. Several responded indicating they would be willing to dedicate some time to pray for us. It is so encouraging to know that there is a team of supporters behind us even in America. The Lord continues to provide and we are humbled by the ways he does so.


Jeremy Bohall