Calling students to Slovenia
We've never called for short-term missionaries before, but Aussie students would make such a difference in Slovenia.
My family and I have been here in Slovenia with CMS for 13 years, as missionaries working with the IFES-linked pioneering student ministry, ZVESh.
To illustrate why we're specifically calling for people to join us short-term, let me introduce you to Slovene student Maria*, who goes to Ljubljana University.
"ZVESh has greatly encouraged me in what has been a lonely experience as a Christian at university. Praise God I now know some other Bible-believing Christians at university," she says.
"Through public talks run by ZVESh I now meet for Bible study with two other students from my faculty of 9,000 students. But we need much more help.”
Slovenia is the most advanced eastern European country, so has a high standard of living and its people are very well educated. Most have a very high level of English.
The majority are Catholic or atheist and have never met a Protestant, even though there is a strong Reformation heritage " they even have a public holiday celebrating a Slovenian reformer.
Yet university ministry still has much growing to do.
“Religious meetings are banned at university, so for Bible study, we meet at a youth hostel," Maria says.
"It's a new experience for Slovenes to have Bible study where anyone can freely ask questions. We are used to some religious expert just telling us what to believe.”
However Maria is hopeful this new experience will benefit her non-Christian student friends as well as the small Christian community at her university.
“I pray that God would soften the hearts of my fellow students."
This is where international students come in. Maria says her non-Christian friends are especially open to conversations with the international students that study at her Ljubljana university.
"There are many more Christians amongst international students. Students speak English and more often become Christian through foreigners. It's easier for them to open up to young people from other cultures.”
In fact, she wants to ask a bold, direct question to students in Sydney: "Perhaps you could come to study or work here for a time to help us?"
We join Maria in calling on Australian Christian students to come to Slovenia for 6 to 12 months " there are exchange agreements between Ljubljana University and several Sydney universities.
We believe these students could really make a difference. ZVESh is also calling on recent graduates who could spend a gap year (or two) in Slovenia and play a vital part in this pioneering ministry.
Slovenia is a very beautiful country but it is a spiritual wasteland.
"My fellow students are sure they know what Christianity is, but they have no idea about Jesus. Evangelical witness in Slovenia barely exists. Pray that my home town will have an evangelical church,” Maria says.
* Not her real name