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December 17, 2017

Serbia celebrates 1,700 years of Christianity in Constantine’s birthplace

The largest distribution of Scriptures to ever take place in Serbia is currently under way in the southern town of Nis to celebrate a turning point in the history of Christianity 1,700 years ago.
In 313, Constantine the Great, who was born in Nis and was the first Roman Emperor to become a Christian, banned the persecution of Christians throughout the empire by signing the Edict of Milan.
“This was an important moment for Christianity because it effectively led to Christianity becoming the official religion of the Roman Empire,” notes Vera Mitic, General Secretary of the Serbian Bible Society. “This helped create the conditions which led to Christianity becoming the world’s largest religion.

55,000 New Testaments

“To mark this special anniversary in Constantine’s birthplace, we are giving away 55,000 New Testaments – one for every home in Nis – in co-operation with the Serbian Orthodox Church.
“Ironically, despite its important place in Christian history, Nis is in a part of Serbia that is still very much influenced by the legacy of communism and has the highest number of atheists in the country. So this is an important opportunity for outreach.

A first in Serbia: a billboard in Nis promoting
the distribution of the New Testaments.

“For the first time in our country, there are billboards containing Christian messages! Two of them went up on January 7 in Nis, advertising the project and using Bible verses. Radio and television stations have also broadcast adverts, and in December, together with its monthly utility bill from the municipality, every household received an invitation to collect a free copy of the New Testament.
“In this way, tax collectors became sowers of God’s Word!” smiles Mrs Mitic.

People interested in Bible study

“Through this project and all the publicity, we have already seen an increase in the number of people
interested in starting Bible study groups, which is very encouraging. Many people who get one of these New Testaments will probably never have read the Bible before, so we have included a reading plan in this special edition.
“The edition also includes information about Constantine and the Edict of Milan. The New Testaments were funded by Bible Society Australia and the Serbian Orthodox Diocese, which ran its first ever fundraising appeal.

Excitement

“It has been truly wonderful to see the excitement surrounding this project. Many volunteers turned up to help us unload the 688 boxes of New Testaments when they arrived in Nis, and more than a thousand people attended the official start of the project in December in the Church of St Constantine and Helen. It was touching to see people kissing their copies of the New Testament.

“Please join us in praying that many people in Nis will be blessed by this project and will come to know and love God.”

Click here to view a video clip about the project, which was aired on national television (in Serbian).