October 2020

Dear friends and partners in the gospel,

It seems that all we ever do is update each other in the current state of the pandemic in our countries! COVID-19 is still around in Serbia but it seems that the worst is over. Or at least people don’t seem to care that much any more! It has certainly taken its victims (and it still is) and there are additional repercussions in terms of economic struggles, people’s mental health and other health problems that cannot be treated normally since everything is about COVID.  

So far we have managed to stay healthy. We have recently started seeing some of our closest friends but we’re thankfully still doing well. We try to spend time outdoors as much as we can and, because of that, over the past few months we’ve had some wonderful time outside seeing places we might not have visited otherwise. Novi Sad city beach (the ‘Strand’), beautiful parks, mini zoos, playgrounds, nature…. For us, the summer of 2020 will be a time to remember. We also took three days off with some of our friends and we visited central Serbia and saw some of its sights and natural beauties. It was a wonderful recharging time.

Ivona generally handles travelling well and sleeps normally wherever we go. She will be two on 25 October. She speaks intelligibly, is learning English and is very active. Please pray for her and us as parents as we raise her.

As you might know, we have had to move houses since our former landlord intends to sell his house. This was a surprising turn of events for us and not the happiest one either as we really enjoyed living there. We lived there for four years and it was Ivona’s first home. However, we found a nicer apartment just one street away. It is, of course, more expensive but hopefully we’ll be able to cover the costs. See the bottom of this letter for our new address.

I am pleased to say that I finally and successfully finished my undergrad theology studies. These four years are something that I will look back on with joy and fondness. Many of my questions have been answered and many new have arisen but I am looking forward to all the new answers that life and ministry might bring. 

The most recent books we have published are Expository Preaching by David Helm, The Story of the Old Testament by Alec Motyer and Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges. The latter two were in association with BTS (the Baptist Theological School in Novi Sad). I think that, by God’s grace, we could be the most prolific publishers of Christian literature in the Balkans currently and we are thankful that these books are educating our Christians and changing lives. Two more books are being translated, The Gospel Centered Marriage by Tim Chester and The Gospel (part of the 9Marks series). Please keep praying for this part of our ministry, for our translators Matej and Tea, and for the others that help us in our publishing work.

Our northern TNT group graduates later this month (22–24 October) after four years of training. They have been through a lot but the hard work has paid off. We now have 18 pastors who will certainly be better preachers and some of them will be good teachers. The other group, which meets in the south, will finish their first year by studying 2 Timothy later this month (26–28 October). Please give thanks for these people and pray for those who continue with the programme.

With COVID and everything that came with it, we had time to think, plan, deepen our strategy for apprenticeship and develop some ideas about church planting. We are working on this with BTS and we hope that we will be able to give you more details about this soon. Please pray in the meantime that God will lead all this and make everything possible in good time.

Thank you for standing with us in everything that we do. Thank you for being our church family and for carrying us in your prayers. 

Wishing you many blessings in the Lord,

Riste and family