Here he learned what it takes to lead sheep down treacherous passes to cool running streams and fresh green pastures.
As Alex grew older, he felt the call to become a different kind of shepherd, a shepherd of men. He enrolled at the Adventist theological seminary several hours from home in Serbia’s capital, Belgrade. Here he learned how to lead men and women to the word of God and to develop a relationship with Christ Jesus. Alex felt he’d found his true calling.
Upon graduation five years ago, he felt a burden to gather a flock of new believers rather than pastor an established church. So the Adventist Church in Serbia asked him to plant a new congregation in Pirot, a region in southern Serbia where there were virtually no Adventists.
Most people in this region are firmly planted in their current faiths and are not open to Adventist beliefs. They’re also reluctant to visit churches of other faiths. Alex felt that traditional evangelism would not work, so he took a different approach.
Pirot, like most Serbian towns, has a large city square filled with bustling shops, crowded cafes, and lots of people. Alex thought this might be a perfect place to start his new church. He asked the shopkeeper of one of Pirot’s most popular cafés—a sweet shop with a large outdoor sitting area—if he could hold an hour-long meeting in the evenings. The shopkeeper agreed because he thought it might add to his business.
Within a few weeks Alex had the café filled with people who were interested in what he had to say but who normally wouldn’t have come to his church. Even the shopkeeper, who was a member of another faith, occasionally attended the meetings. Within six months two small groups formed that met several times a week in other locations.
As the group continued to grow, Alex looked for a place to meet on Sabbath, but there were no halls in Pirot for him to rent. Then he happened upon a storefront that was available. It was on a major street in town with plenty of parking nearby. He rented it.
It didn’t take long to run out of space in the storefront, however the large storeroom was conveniently empty. Alex turned the storeroom into an overflow sanctuary by setting up a video camera in the storefront and a video projector and speakers in the storeroom, creating his own closed-circuit television system. Now he has plenty of room for church on Sabbath.
In the past four years 37 people have been baptized. What seemed impossible when Alex arrived five years ago has become a reality.
Adventist Membership: 6,623*
Adventist Churches: 168*
*Courtesy of the General Conference Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research Annual Statistical Report 2010.
Church leaders realized that the gospel needed to be translated, familiarized, and contextualized and that ministers, like Paul, had to become all things to all men so that they could by all means save some.
Centers of influence are currently being established in cities around the world.