Women's Ministries Retreats in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina

South-East Europe | SEEUC WM | February 6, 2023 | Marija Trajkovska

Inviting non-member friends to join creative workshop retreats touches hearts of both the friends and people of the community who later received the workshop's handmade gifts. This is Nurture, Empower, and Outreach rolled into one activity.

Ćuprija, Serbia

“The Pumpkin’s Story about God’s Grace” retreat, December 10-11, 2022

A retreat held in Ćuprija, Serbia, with uplifting music and nurturing Bible study, was planned with a pumpkin theme connecting several pumpkin activities during the weekend, December 10-11. Creative workshops were included for making items that were given later to women in the community. This is a pattern of nurture and outreach being done in the Women's Ministries department of the South-East European Union Conference (WM SEEUC).

The pumpkin theme was explained by Nemanja Boričić, pastor of the Kragujevac Seventh-day Adventist Church, when he presented the pumpkin’s story, a study from the book of Jonah about God’s grace as expressed in everyday small things, Additional Kragujevac church members contributed to the retreat with a musical program led by Anamaria Niculović at the beginning of the retreat.

In a cooking workshop, Daniela Lekin taught the group to make pumpkin potage and pumpkin juice. The retreat participants enjoyed the delicious supper of pumpkin soup and pumpkin pie, also apple pie. Another pumpkin workshop, led by Stela Andrejić, made the event even more colorful, joyful, and practical when the women made decorative pumpkins.

Organized by Jelena Trajković, WM director in the South Conference of the South-East European Union Conference, the retreat's goal was to nurture women and empower them to reach out to women in Pomoravlje district.

The long tradition of using creative workshops to involve the community women and create something special as a gift of love for the community institutions was continued the following day with making of the wall clocks in the violin key shape (treble clef). They were intended to be the special gifts for teachers and students at the Musical School for the extraordinary talented students in Ćuprija, Serbia.

“The delight and pleasure of the school director and other recipients was a pleasant reward for our efforts to do something kind and practical for our community and make their lives more beautiful,” said Jelena Trajković, retreat leader.

Balkana, Bosnia and Herzegovina

"His Pearls" retreat, November 25-27, 2022

Women's Ministries (WM) weekend retreat themed "His Pearls" was intended to show their value in God's sight to women in both the church and the community. Attended by 20 Adventist and 5 non-Adventist women, the retreat provided opportunities for the fellowship and expression of God’s love through morning exercising, Bible studies about biblical women, group discussions, creative workshops, talks and walks around the lake Balkana, and a visit to the artists’ colony “Zelenkovac.“

The retreat was organized by Nataša Mihajlović, WM director in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with Marija Trajkovska, SEEUC WM director, as a guest speaker, and was held in Balkana, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on November 25-27, 2022.

Studying and reflecting on the less well-known Bible women from the New Testament period, such as Tryphena and Tryphosa, Persis, Apphia and Joanna, and applying some valuable lessons from the lives of early church women, retreat attendees discovered new ways to serve their families, churches, neighborhoods and communities. They were learning how to become God's true pearls, shining for Him every time and everywhere, in every life situation, regardless of the circumstances and the price.

Unexpected situations with the non-Adventist participants occurred before the end of the retreat and soon afterward.

One of the non-Adventist visitors immediately contacted her friends and colleagues sharing an idea she had just learned. Delighted by the ADRA humanitarian action, "Fasting for Feeding," based on refraining from one meal a month in order to collect devices for feeding less fortunate society members and families, the woman challenged her friends and colleagues to join her in making a donation. They collected a sizable donation and gave it to the local woman pastor to meet the needs of the most deprived citizens in their town.

A few days following the retreat, another of the non-Adventist ladies experienced flooding in her home due to the excessive rain and local river overflow. The women from the retreat collected both money and necessary first aid items to provide help and relief to their retreat colleague.

Another non-Adventist lady who had to leave early said, “I am leaving now, but my heart and mind will stay with you because with you I experienced unknown peace, love, and acceptance.”

“That powerful testimony showed that more similar opportunities should be used to reach women from the local communities with God’s love and acceptance,” said Marija Trajkovska, SEEUC WM director and seminar speaker.

Don't miss this video and more photos from Macedonia Mission (also of the South-East European Union Conference) showing handmade gifts crafted at creative workshops and then presenting them to friends in the community as outreach activities.

Photo credits: WM of South-East European Conference Union Conference
Written by Marija Trajkovska, WM director of Women's Ministries for South-East European Union Confernce of Trans-European Division (TED)

Published in Mosaic newsletter, 2023 Q1