There have been Baptist churches in Croatia since the 1890s. Over the last 20-30 years the Croatian Baptist Union has doubled in size and the number of congregations in still increasing. At present there are 1,900 church members attending a total of 50 churches and mission stations. The size of what could be termed the ‘Baptist community’ is likely to be two or three times this size (when family members and children of officially registered ‘members’ are taken into consideration).
The Baptist Union currently has a church planting goal of seeing one Baptist congregation planted in every one of Croatia’s 21 counties. The European Baptist Federation’s Indigenous Mission Project reports on the work of a church planter in Novi Marof, about 100km from the capital, Zagreb. Twenty people are meeting regularly there for prayer and worship.
The IMP co-ordinator, Daniel Trusiewicz, writes:
‘The meetings take place in a rented hall and are led by indigenous church planter Jonatan. The group has been meeting there for about one year and a good deal of growth has been notified since. There are counseling sessions twice a week in the same hall where the group meets for a Bible study on Friday night. People can come to talk or find advice about some spiritual or practical issues.
Jonatan says: ‘There are only two reasons that prompt me to plant a church in Novi Marof: the Great Commission and God’s love towards lost people who need to be saved. The target group is especially the young people burdened with various problems (addictions, unemployment, depression etc). In order to accomplish this goal we have started the Christian counseling. This ministry serves all who need advice and encouragement, and who seek the true meaning of life.’ Jonatan is married to Daniela and they have two small children.
The church plant in Novi Marof is supported by the church in Varazdin, some 15km away. The church in Varazdin was itself planted only 15 years ago and now has a building seating 50 people with an apartment for the pastor. Varazdin enjoys an educated congregation that is mission-minded, hence their enthusiastic support for the church plant at Novi Marof plus another at Ivanec. There are 15000 inhabitants in the town of Novi Marof and the new group is the sole Evangelical fellowship there. In the region of Varazdin – Novi Marof there are about 200,000 people but only three Evangelical churches.’