Writings of Branko's Blog

All around Central Europe


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Lukas of Belarus [blog]


Remember your leaders, who preached the word of God to you (Hebrews 13:7)

Not many people know that the New testament in a modern Belarusian language was translated by Lukas Dziekuć-Malej (1888-1955) in 1920-ies.

Book cover (published in October 2011)

In December 1921 a young missionary Luke came to the city of Brest that just was added to Poland, after the First World War Born in Grodno province of Poland, as a Belarusian, he was educated teacher who met the Evangelical Baptists during the military service just before the war – as he was drafted in Russian army. While serving in the army, he sincerely believed in the Lord, and was baptized in the city of Bialystok.

Luka studied theology for two years and later worked as an evangelist in St. Petersburg and also some places in today’s Poland. He became known as a Belarusian patriot, teacher and organizer of youth. However, the Polish authorities, given the war with the Bolsheviks in 1920 ruled that Luke leaves Grodno, so he moved further from the border. Luke decided to continue the spiritual work and moved to the city of Brest.

“The slanting rays of the morning sun greeted me in December (1921), when I got off the train and looked with great interest the unfamiliar city of Brest. It was destroyed, burned, dirty, cold and hungry. Ragged crowd with sunken eyes, emaciated faces … What a better place to move in from the place of dying in sin and evil? Praying, I went on address where a sister was, who recently came back from Russia. In her small house I began to preach the Gospel” (a quote from the “Sewer of Truth “, 1928, March).

By the end of 1922 sister’s house no longer could accommodate all who wanted to attend the meetings. The Lord helped them find a new place in a dark and gloomy basement of a hotel. Here they founded a cultural association with the interesting name of “Belarusian lodge.” And it gave them an opportunity to establish first contacts with the inhabitants of the city. Soviet persecution just started…

By the 1925, a church had about 200 members. Along with the evangelization work, Luke translated the Gospels. The British and Foreign Bible society in 1931 published 25,000 copies of the New Testament and Psalms in Belarusian, and the new era begun.

In 2005 there were more than 900 local protestant churches registered in the Belarus Republic, and one of the largest today is the local Brest church of Evangelical Christians – Baptists in Brest, the same one Luke started 90 years ago.

TWR broadcasts in Russian and Belarus languages. More information at www.twrbelarus.org


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According to the Old Calendar [blog]


Many people don’t know that some Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate church festivals and saint days according to the Julian calendar, which originated as a reformed calendar in the times of Julius Caesar in 45 BC. But, in 1582 it was discovered that the calculations used for the Julian calendar actually wrongly add 10 minutes and 48 seconds per year, which makes 3 days in 4 centuries. So, that error was corrected by a papal decree (Pope Gregory), and thus came into being the Gregorian calendar.

Gregorian calendar is what it is used today in most of the world. It is also inaccurate – but more on that some other time.

However, the Old Calendar is still used by the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Russian Orthodox Church, in Georgia, on Mountain Athos, the Jerusalem Patriarchate, and among the Berbers in North Africa. The difference is 13 dates/days.

So, in Serbia, the Christmas Eve was on the 6th of January this year, and Christmas was celebrated on the 7th of January 2012. It was a festive and nice time of families joining together and enjoying some good food and company. Most of the people also connect that 3 day holiday with the 2 day New Year celebration, and do not work for a number of days…

The Protestant Evangelical Roma church from Leskovac, south Serbia, celebrated Christmas this year by bringing festive and carnival atmosphere to their neighborhoods on 7th of January. They traditionally walk the streets and sing praises and choruses to our God and Lord Jesus reminding the Romas on the gospel message.

On this photo you can see pastor Sheriff (playing accordion) leading his church members through one of the Roma settlements in Leskovac. A small team of young producers in this church also prepare two weekly Roma programs that TWR is broadcasting on local FMs – the Romane Krlo (Voice of the Roma) and Shalom Romalen (Peace be to the Romas)! The message is great and the worship music is excellent!


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Miss Adeline Paulina Irby, of Bosnia [blog]


A few months ago, in September 2011, Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina) protestant churches organized a cultural and an evangelistic event called “Meeting Miss Irby,” commemorating the centenary of a death of Miss Adeline Paulina Irby, 100 years ago.  Miss Irby was a protestant missionary who came to the Balkans 150 years ago.

site on missirby.com

She first travelled extensively the region along with Georgina Muir Mackenzie. In 1859 they originated from Vienna, travelled through Bratislava, stayed for some time on the Tatra Mountains, and then went to Cracow, just to be accused by the Austrian authorities that they are suspected Russian spies and Pan-Slavism movement supporters.

They later travelled the Balkans and published a much apprised book called “The Slavonic Provinces of Turkey-in-Europe” and upon return to the UK, they gave lectures and published papers on these Slav groups: Bulgarians, Serbs, Croats, Bosnians, etc.

As it was an honorable matter in these days, two sisters in Christ decided to move to Sarajevo and open there a school for girls. Their choice for Bosnia was because there was so little missionary activity in that part of the Balkans. They raised money from family and friends and opened a school in Sarajevo.

Josh Irby, who lives in Sarajevo and who wrote a book on Miss Irby calculated that the amount of support Miss Irby and her friends collected for the work in Bosnia was around 3 million US dollars in today’s money.

Churches in the Bosnian capital used the occasion in September 2011 to and shared a love of Christ with the people on the streets.

This book is a must read: Josh Irby’s Meeting Miss Irby. Video (in Serbian and partially English) at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4Rx4MNKdSY

TWR is also spreading the good news of Jesus Christ in this region. Program schedule can be found on: http://www.twr.org/schedule/?language=bosnian