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Presentation on theme: "VUKOVAR VUKOVAR CROATIA - 1999 OUR TRIP TO WAR-TORN."— Presentation transcript:


2 VUKOVAR During the Yugoslavian civil war, this city was under siege by Serb forces for three months and fell to the Serbs in November 1991. The city of Vukovar is located on the Danube River in eastern Croatia, right on the border with Serbia. A CITY OF SURVIVORS CROATIA Incessant bombing by Serb tanks & artillery caused extensive damage to nearly every structure in the city, forcing most Croats to flee. We were shocked to see so much needless destruction. It’s hard to imagine the loss & pain these people were forced to endure.

3 WHY VUKOVAR? Prior to the war, Vukovar had been a very prosperous city having textile and agricultural industries as well as a cargo port --A very wealthy town. It is said that this area of Vojvodina has the best soil for agriculture in all of Europe, which made it a very coveted area. The Serbs basically wiped out the city with their bombing & perpetrated ethnic cleansing on its people after invading. Unloading donations of clothes, shoes & goods at the local ‘Caritas’ center. Entering Vukovar Via a make-shift bridge that replaced the bombed-out bridge

4 VUKOVAR’S PLIGHT VUKOVAR’S PLIGHT Vukovar reverted to Croatian control in 1998 & since then there has been a flow of Croatian refugees returning home… No Jobs, No Homes, No Hope! No Jobs, No Homes, No Hope! … ONLY TO FIND: Former Vukovar Train Station Deb At Destroyed Center of Town

5 DESTRUCTION EVERYWHERE! Over 90% of the city was bombed-out. Leaving only gutted ruins of their former prosperity. Heavily damaged apartment buildings are now inhabited. The remains of an Historical Palace.

6 THE LEGACY OF WAR! DESTRUCTION… PAIN… AND SUFFERING! What’s left of a residential neighborhood. Sonia & Martha in the entrance of what used to be a nice ‘state-of- the-art’ gymnasium & community center.

7 THE CHALLENGE TO REBUILD Rebuilding homes has progressed slowly, but it has not been as difficult as rebuilding lives! This certainly has been the greatest challenge for the many Croats returning home after spending years as refugees in other countries. In Croatia, Serbs are considered a minority yet in the city of Vukovar they comprise 70% of the population. After the war, Serbs began reaping special benefits & privileges from their minority status established by the UN; preference for jobs & welfare benefits etc., while Croatians do not. This complicates & aggravates living conditions for Croatians that are trying to peacefully rebuild their homes & lives & co-exist with Serbs. One of the few houses totally finished. The home of Božo & Jelena, where we stayed. An occupied house being slowly rebuilt Deb & Brisa say: Hello!

8 WATCH OUT FOR MINES! There were still over 2,000 mines in & around the city & alongside the roads, making it very unsafe for everyone, especially children. ‘MINE’ WARNING SIGNS! It’s extremely dangerous to get out of your car & wander on the side of the road in this whole area.

9 OUR MISSION: Delivering Aid, Comfort & Hope Unloading a trailer full of donated new clothes, shoes & other goods from Western Europe. Debbie & Brisa spent many hours sorting through clothes to distribute. Many returning refugees were struggling to make a living & rebuild their homes. It was difficult for them to obtain even the basic necessities.

10 MEETING FATHER ZLATKO When we departed from Zagreb we had no idea of where we’d stay or how we’d operate. Father Zlatko The only lead we had was a name: Father Zlatko, a Franciscan priest. He worked out a place for us to stay & facilitated our ministry to others in a great way. With Father Zlatko in front of his Church. With Father Zlatko in front of his Church. During the war, they received so much shelling that it’s a miracle it’s still standing. Now it’s being rebuilt ‘stone by stone’ just like their lives.

11 “Lord, Make Me An Instrument Of Your Peace…” “Prayer Of Saint Francis” Singing the “Prayer Of Saint Francis” at their semi-destroyed but beautiful medieval Basilica. “On the Wings of a Snow White Dove” Brisa & Debbie singing “On the Wings of a Snow White Dove” during mass. Father Zlatko commented that he was very impressed by his congregation’s reaction; we received spontaneous applause & a standing ovation which he had not seen happen before. People were moved to tears when they heard our songs.

12 OUR GREATEST GIFT TO THEM: Sharing God’s Love by means of prayer, comfort & listening to their stories with an understanding heart. Our new friends Božo & Jelena opened their home to us & treated us like kings during our stay. We were impressed by their kindness & hospitality. The Wonderful People We Met

13 THE MINISTRY OF COMFORT: Sandra endured the worst of the war in her basement & nearly lost her life when the Serbs tried to dispose of the group of refugees they were evacuating. A UN Convoy saved their lives. Martha & Sonia with Goran, a law student, that translated for us. Practically everyone had lost a loved one during the war. More than material aid, what they appreciated most was our willingness to listen to their heart-cry & the pain they were still experiencing. Helping Heal The Wounds Of War Helping Heal The Wounds Of War

14 A PORTRAIT OF MAN’S INHUMANITY TO MAN MASS GRAVES A Mass Grave for one thousand innocent civilians massacred by Serbs forces. Another Memorial at a Mass Grave of 200. These were patients, doctors & nurses of a local hospital taken captive by Serb troops & slaughtered without mercy.

15 “Nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” “ And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.” Empty graves waiting for thousands of not-found-as-yet bodies of missing persons. Cemetery for war victims & soldiers. Keeping the memory of loved ones alive.

16 MINISTERING TO SPECIAL OPS & EX-MILITARY COMMANDERS. We believe that one of the main reasons the Lord sent us to Vukovar was to meet & minister to these soldiers as they were in desperate need of the Lord & received His Word with Joy! Deb between two Giants: Pajo & Želko. MANY LIVES WERE CHANGED FOREVER!

17 The Symbolic Water Tower Brisa & Debbie with Ivo, ex-soldier, our guide & protector, in front of the famous Water Tower. He was one of the guys who would put the flag back up. During the heat of combat the challenge was to keep the Croatian Flag flying atop this tower. The Serbs would shoot it down and the Croatians would put it right back up.

18 “The UN should operate the way you do & help others with sincerity instead of wasting resources in vain talk & politics” A traditional ‘Fish Soup’ meal in our honor. We were introduced to the former Minister of the Interior & later led him & many others to the Lord. Comment by the former Minister of the Interior

19 With donations from businesses in Western Europe & the help of fellow missionaries, it all came to fruition. Our co-workers & local residents together built a beautiful ‘State of the Art’ playground. Now parents no longer have to worry about their children being maimed or killed by mines while out playing. The mayor provided the land & heavy construction equipment & the whole town participated in the project working hand- in-hand with our fellow missionaries & volunteers. When we asked the Lord what else could we do to help this city, He showed us to build a Playground for the children. Stephen & a young helper working on a rope bridge. This boy’s father was killed in the war.

20 More follow up trips have been made by missionaries in the area after this initial pioneer effort. The lives of our friends there have drastically changed forever as they’ve learned to forgive & move on with their lives. More follow up trips have been made by missionaries in the area after this initial pioneer effort. The lives of our friends there have drastically changed forever as they’ve learned to forgive & move on with their lives. FRUIT THAT REMAINS We believe that the people of Vukovar now have a better chance to truly heal from the wounds of war, rebuild their town, & prosper once again. “Neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.” 1 Corinthians 3:7 Link to ‘About Us’ & Our Outreach in Various Countries


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