– This project aims to establish key relationships between the Bible Societies of the West Balkans and the local churches in the area. This will be done by recruiting influential church contacts (e.g. bishops, priests, ministers and lay individuals) who will advocate and encourage the role of the Bible use in their congregations. They will serve as a catalyst through whom the Bible Society will deliver a series of programs and resources that will help the church members to rediscover their passion for the Word of God and its relevance to today’s society.
– The project also aims to bring together these key church contacts in order to create a West Balkans network through which the Bible Societies of the West Balkans will strengthen the fellowship of the churches in the area. The aim for this network of connections is to become a platform for Bible advocacy work in the context of Balkan society and to maximise fundraising opportunities within the Balkan churches both nationally and internationally.
– The initial targets are: key influential contacts and active Christians within churches, Christian organisations or church movements with whom Bible Society can partner. Through these contacts the Bible Society is aiming at targeting the wider church constituency which come from a different church background (Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant).
– The targeted audience also comes from different national backgrounds (Albania, Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia).
-This is a joint venture, which has come about as a result of genuine Christian fellowship among the WBP Bible Societies during the last ten years. We share the same political, social and religious challenges and opportunities in our work. As a result we believe that by collaborating together in joint projects we will thrive and be more effective. In doing so we will be better witnesses of the Christian message of fellowship to the Balkan society which has been characterised by ethnic and religious hatred.
– As most of our Bible Societies were opened after the fall of communism our main efforts so far have been focused on translation, printing and distributing the Bible in order to address the vacuum left by many years of communism. Although this is still important for many of our Bible Societies, there has been a recognition that our work is reaching a different stage where establishing deeper relationships with the churches and creating a base of local support is fundamental for the future of Bible Society in this area.
– There is also a realisation that, even in the Balkans, it is becoming more challenging for the church to deliver its message among its members and the surrounding society. This project is addressing both the need for raising the awareness of the work of the Bible Society and also the need for the church to engage with the word of God in a deeper way.
– The mission, vision and background of our work is contained in the West Balkan Partnership document, whereas our strategic plan is contained in “The West Balkan Partnership Joint Strategy 2012–2016” document. Project “Calling the Harvesters” constitutes the absolute basis and first step for carrying out our mission, vision and strategy. The joint aspect of the project also relates directly to the strategies of each of our Bible Societies, since we see this cooperation as an essential part of our fellowship and mission. The creation of such an international platform with key and influential church contacts will make it possible for the West Balkan Partnership to:
a) reach and bring together all the main traditions (Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant)
b) advocate the Biblical message in the context of some key cultural and social issues e.g. reconciliation, politics, Islam.
– The first part of the objectives has been assessed. We have established the strategy for building a supportive network of Bible engagement activists within the local churches and have written the document “The West Balkan Partnership Joint Strategy 2012–2016”.
– Each BS has already created a network of harvesters which is being contacted and equipped with different tools in their daily work with believers. The BS are still recruiting new harvesters as they continue to organize meetings bringing together harvesters from different churches.
– All over the WBP countries there have been very encouraging news regarding new Bible study groups that have been formed, Bible reading events, sport activities bringing the youth together to read the Bible, new bookmarks and other materials distributed etc.
– First steps has already been done to establish an international platform for the influential church activists to come together and share their experience and vision through the organizing the Translators meeting in Belgrade and the meeting regarding the H+ presentation in Zagreb.
1. There have been already established 60 key influential church activists, 10 in Albania, 5 in Croatia, 20 in Macedonia, 15 in Serbia and 10 in Slovenia.
2. To help with the daily work regarding the project Macedonia has recruited 1 paid part time coordinator, Croatia has recruited 1 volunteer part time coordinator, Serbia has recruited 2 paid and 1 volunteer part time coordinator, Slovenia has allocated an existing staff to the project.
3. Each Bible Society has already organized meetings to bring together the local activists. Slovenia has organized 2 meetings; Albania has organized 1 meeting in Taize; Macedonia has organized 2 meetings; Serbia has organized 2 meetings; There is also the H+ meeting with harvesters from all the WBP countries which will also contribute in sharing experiences and ideas between harvesters.
4. In process of creating the right materials for the harvesters.