Thursday, February 24, 2011

Balkan trip (final) day 17: "Change your name or change your behavior!"

This morning we went to the International Church. They meet once in the two weeks and sometimes three times a month. Their church services are held in a hotel not far the center of Belgrade. Samuilo led the sermon and had a message to the people.

In the afternoon we had an interesting meeting with him and with a representative of the IFES (EUS). Later on a professor from the political faculty with a young but very intelligent student were joining too. We discussed about possible projects focused on reconciliation and vision building with students and participants from all countries and areas of former Yugoslavia. After this I was running for another meeting with the representatives of the Serbian Christian Democratic Movement and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. We discussed about collaboration for trainings of the members of the SCDM and about other activities we develop in the region. I was invited to share my experiences about the development of Christian Democracy in East Europe during a special session in May. This meeting was followed by another meeting with a friend who worked in one of the West European embassies in Belgrade. We shared experiences and information on how we can develop and promote traditional family values in the EU.

Finally we left Belgrade. It was already late. The trip was almost finished - as this logbook about our Balkantrip is. Although we could not write all the meetings and discussions we had and the plans we will develop on a public blog, I hope and pray that this logbook gave a bit a picture about the developments in different countries in the Balkans.

It was, however, not only a nice and interesting trip, but we also could work hard with our local partners to look together how we can promote and develop Christian-Democratic values in the Balkans. It is wonderful to see how God put such wonderful people on our path in all these places we have visited, with great visions and plans.

It was also beautiful that our Balkan trip started and finished with both a sermon in Serbia. This morning Samuilo had a great message taken from the 13th chapter of the Gospel of St John which summarized how a Christian leader should be and what values should be the base. Samuilo started with a question "What would you do if you know that you only have a few hours to live?" Because this was the situation. Jesus knew that He would be captured and be killed soon. He chose to be with His disciples and to give some important messages to them. While the disciples were arguing about who would have the most important place in the Kingdom of God (to have the most power), Jesus showed them what real leadership means. He did the most humble job and he washed the feet of the disciples. Jesus was the leader, but He was not a despot. He did not come to rule but to serve and asked us to follow Him. "I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things you will be blessed if you do them" (John 13:16). Further on in this same chapter, Jesus calls His disciples also to love: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

This means really to be a Christian: not to dominate but to serve: not to hate, but to love. Samuilo told us an interesting story of Alexander the Great. When he inspected his troups, he saw one soldier sleeping while he was guarding an important and crucial place of the defence. He asked that soldier his name. The soldier answered that his name was Alexander. Then Alexander the Great told him: "Change your name or change your behavior" because he had the same name as Alexander the Great. How many times would Jesus Christ not say to us Christians the same: "Please change your name (Christian) or your behavior?" We have to be humbled. Even if we are saved by Gods Grace, our feet always have to be washed (spiritually speaking), to humble ourselves and to love the other.

I hope and pray that during this trip all three of us (Auke, Annechien and me) we could spread this message of action out of vision to the people we met I think that the targets I put for myself were reached: to meet our friends, to develop plans for the region in collaboration with the ECPM and to learn more about the situation in the different countries and regions and in the Balkans as a whole.

At around 23 hrs we arrived back in Timisoara. There I will be for a few days, before we will go back to Macedonia to participate to the international youth leadership forum and where I will meet some of our friends again: the epilogue of this trip. Therefore the Balkan trip is finished but will be continued.....

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