Welcome to the Bosnia International Servant Trip
Srebrenica (& our) Prayer
(Filesize: 166 Kb)
A Ministry of Healing † Hope † Peace for Bosnia and the whole World
This is a ministry of the New Jersey Synod, ELCA, striving to bring peace to Bosnia through the wonderful children of this beautiful country. On this website you'll see much from the past thirteen years of this ministry.
The 2013 BOSNIA IST is June 21 - July 2, 2013
Here is the 5/16/13 Home Team Update for all the latest on how you can help with this year's trip!
Follow the Bosnia IST on our Facebook page. There we will post updates and reminders through out the year as well as photos, stories and videos from the most recent trips!
You don't have to belong to Facebook to see the page!
Here are the basics of the Bosnia IST. For more info, look throughout this site, especially under The Story tab.
A little about Bosnia, the war and its aftermath:
The country's full name is Bosnia-Hercegovina, but we usually shorten it to Bosnia. Bosnia is a small country, about the size of West Virginia, with a population of about 3.5 million people. An absolutely gorgeous country with beautiful mountains and rivers and forests. It’s in south-eastern Europe - if you’re looking at a map its just to the right of Italy. It is a country with a rich history dating back thousands of years. Many different cultures, ethnic groups and religious traditions coexist in Bosnia with the three largest being the Bosniaks (who are traditionally Muslim), the Bosnian Serbs (who are traditionally Orthodox Christian) and the Bosnian Croats (who are traditionally Roman Catholic).
It’s next to impossible to summarize a war in just a couple of sentences, but here we go: Bosnia was a part of a much larger country, Yugoslavia. In the 1990s Yugoslavia began to break up along regional/ethnic/historical lines. Bosnia was the third section of Yugoslavia to declared its independence, which sparked a civil war that lasted a little over 4 years, from 1992 to 1996. This war was never a war between the peoples, it was planned and perpetrated some nationalistic leaders. It was a brutal, terrible war that saw years-long sieges, massacres, concentration camps, rape camps, and more. In the midst of this horror there were countless acts of bravery, self-sacrifice, loving resistance and more. The war ended with a peace accord signed at an Air Force base outside of Dayton, Ohio.
The Dayton Peace Accord ended the fighting, but it established a very unjust “peace”. While in some places things are moving forward, many people and many communities still can’t recover from the war. Many war criminals are still at large (some even serving as police or in the government). Many refugees are still unable to return to their homes (16 years after the war!). Mass graves are still being found. In many places the ethnic groups are unable to live together. So many of the people in Bosnia want peace and reconciliation, but it is so hard…
Our Bosnia Ministry:
In 1998 (two years after the war ended) an ELCA congregation in Metropolitan Washington, DC Synod took a team of youth and adults to Bosnia to hold Friendship Camps (described below) for the children who survived the war. In 2000 this ministry moved to the New Jersey Synod where they began bringing multigenerational teams to Bosnia holding Friendship Camps throughout the country. These annual International Servant Trips (ISTs) are about 12 days in length. Since 2000 they have hosted over 150 Friendship Camps in about 35 different schools and orphanages with over 24,000 children participants!
NEW JERSEY SYNOD BOSNIA IST
Our Bosnia IST ministry is a ministry of healing, hope and peace. We work for those in two ways: 1. We hold Friendship Camps (occasionally with concerts); and 2. We live and make friends with Bosnian young people and adults and explore their beautiful, wounded country.
1. Friendship Camps. Our Friendship Camps gather children from the different ethnic groups for a half-day program that teaches peace-making and reconciliation skills, offers diversity training, and provides music and play therapy. We accomplish these through drama, cooperative challenges/games, music and servant projects, and lots and lots of fun, all the while having them do these things with children from different ethnic groups. And of course we spend as much time as possible simply being with them. Our Travel Team members usually return home with many new facebook friends!
"This has been the best day of my life!" - Friendship Camp participant from Sarajevo
2. Living with them. With our Bosnia partners, young people serving as interpreters and adults serving as coordinators, we travel around the country by bus staying hotels and host homes. We visit sites important in the war (former concentration camps, massacre and mass grave sites, etc.) where we talk with survivors and local peace-builders (our heros and friends!). We visit mosques and churches and beautiful town centers. We tour and stay with local peace-focussed organizations. We also find time to relax, swim (sometimes), talk, dance, sing, worship and eat their wonderful food and lots of their even-more-wonderful ice cream! This aspect of the IST is critically important to us and our Bosnian partners and friends.
It's hard work. It's loads of fun and sometimes heart-breaking. It's life changing.
Things you can do:
THE ELCA YOUTH GATHERING
If you are one of the thousands who was a part of the Bosnia experience "The Wall" at this summer's ELCA Youth Gathering - Thank You! We had a powerful, life-changing time sharing the story of Bosnia's war and God at work tearing down those walls of violence, hatred and fear.
Almost everything we did at The Wall-Bosnia, you can do back home. You can:
Build a tunnel and/or show the Tunnel Video of the siege of Sarajevo or anther video you saw
Set up parts of the display you found informative and compelling
Have conversations with one or more of the Bosnians or American Travel Team members (over Skype or fly them out!)
What else did you experience that you want to share with your family/friends/youth group/school/congregation/synod?
Decorate tote bags or make shrinky-dinks for the children of Bosnia.
You can do these:
with your youth group
at a Family Night Supper (or Advent Meal)
with the Sunday School
at your own school/scout troop/team
at a Synod Youth Event or Synod Assembly
To find out how to do these things or how to borrow some of the things you saw at The Wall-Bosnia, please contact the Bosnia Gathering Team Leader, Emily Horner
JOINING THE NJ SYNOD BOSNIA IST
Our Bosnia IST is divided into to segments: the Travel Team and the Home Team. The Travel Team or those who prepare and travel to Bosnia serving as this ministry's hands and feet in Bosnia. The Home Team provides financial and prayer support for the trip, they make the sewing project gifts and decorated tote bags for the children, and donate other necessary supplies. Both teams are vitally needed!
Travel Team members are people ages 16 to 86 who are physically and emotionally healthy, have a passion for helping children and love peace. To receive the Travel Team 2013 Packet, or if you have any questions about serving on the Travel Team, please contact Bosnia Ministry Coordinator Jason Reed.
The Home Team is made up of individuals, families, congregations, youth groups, school classrooms, Sunday schools, confirmation classes, choirs, camps and more! The 2013 IST Home Team Guide will be available by early October with a complete list of things you can do on the Home Team. In the mean time, prayer and financial support are always needed and welcome! If you have questions or want to help, please contact our Home Team Captain Steve Smith.
HOW TO DONATE!
Please send your financial donation of any size (tax-deductable, of course!), to: Bosnia IST, New Jersey Synod, 1930 Highway 33, Hamilton Square, NJ 08690. If possible, please include this donation form.
If you have any questions about this ministry, please contact the Bosnia Ministry Coordinator Jason Reed.