Comfort During Four Years of War
DURING the four years of war in the territory of the former Yugoslavia, many people suffered hardships and severe shortages. Included among them were hundreds of Jehovah’s Witnesses, who faithfully continued to worship “the God of all comfort.”—2 Corinthians 1:3.
In Sarajevo, people suffered the added hardship of living in a large city that was under siege throughout the war. There were shortages of electricity, water, firewood, and food. How did the Sarajevo Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses function under these extreme conditions? Christians from neighboring lands risked their lives to bring in a large quantity of relief supplies. (See The Watchtower, November 1, 1994, pages 23-7.) Also, the brothers in Sarajevo shared what they had with one another, placing the prime emphasis on sharing spiritual things. During the siege a Christian overseer from that city gave the following report:
“We value our meetings very much. My wife and I, together with another 30 persons, walk 15 kilometers [9 miles] each way to the meetings. Sometimes it was announced that water would be supplied during the times when meetings were held. What would the brothers do? Would they stay home or attend the meetings? Our brothers preferred to attend the meetings. The brothers always help one another; whatever they have, they share. One sister in our congregation lives on the outskirts of the city, near the forest; so it is a little easier for her to get some firewood. She also works in a bakery, and her salary is paid in flour. When possible, she bakes a large loaf of bread and brings it to the meeting. After the meeting, on the way out, she gives everyone a piece.
“It is important that none of the brothers or sisters ever feel abandoned. Nobody knows who of us will next need help in an unpleasant situation. When we had icy roads and one sister was ill, young, strong brothers pulled her to the meetings on a sleigh.
“All of us share in the preaching work, and Jehovah has blessed our efforts. He has seen our dire situation in Bosnia, but he has blessed us with increase—increase we had not seen before the war.”
Likewise, in other war-torn parts of the former Yugoslavia, Jehovah’s Witnesses have enjoyed increases despite severe hardships. From the Croatia office of Jehovah’s Witnesses comes this report about a group of Witnesses: “The brothers living in Velika Kladuša had extremely hard times to deal with. The town was attacked on several occasions. The brothers had to explain their neutrality to Croatian, Serbian, and various Muslim armies. For sure, they had to endure much—imprisonment, beatings, hunger, danger of death. Still, all of them remained faithful and have the outstanding privilege of seeing Jehovah’s blessing on their activities.”
In spite of these hardships, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Velika Kladuša and neighboring Bihać continue to enjoy increases as they zealously share God’s message of comfort with their neighbors. A total of 26 Kingdom publishers from these two places are conducting 39 home Bible studies!