Sunday, September 28, 2014

Faith and Conflict Experience | Bosnia and Herzegovina

After 18 months of planning and hard work, the 7-day long Bosnian Faith and Conflict Experience was held successfully in Banja Luka and Sarajevo, with a day trip to Srebrenica. Jointly organised by YWAM Ireland, YWAM Central Europe and YWAM Bosnia Herzegovina, it was a time of gaining insight into God's view of war, peace and reconciliation. There were just over 30 participants from 15 different nations, mostly working with YWAM, but also some others came along for the ride as well. And what a ride it was...
This is a conference that usually happens in Northern Ireland, run by YWAM Ireland and 4 of us from Central Europe (Carmelita Clarke, Yohanan and Rachel Rempt and Belinda Chaplin), attended one of the Northern Ireland versions of the conference last year in May (read more here). The main speaker was Jonny Clark, leader of YWAM Ireland, and it really was great to have input from him and his team from YWAM Ireland. It was also great to have the chance to give input from what I have learnt in living in Bosnia Herzegovina for almost 14 years... but I know that I am also still learning!

We were in lectures some of the time, but we also heard from local people, both in Banja Luka and in Sarajevo. For many this was a highlight - to hear from a local perspective about the war that happened here almost 20 years ago, as well as what is happening here in the area of peacebuilding. Below is Ceca, who works with a local NGO in Banja Luka, sharing on the different things they do in the area of reconciliation:
But it wasn't inside all of the time - both in Banja Luka and in Sarajevo we took a tour of the city. I did the Banja Luka tour, and below is Aida (in blue) doing the tour in Sarajevo: She did a fantastic job! Wrangling 30 people plus children is not easy!!
Below is most of the group in front of the library in Sarajevo. It really was a great group of people!
We had a great tour in Sarajevo and here is our speaker, Jonny, at the place where 100 years ago Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, and this led directly to the start of WWI:
And no tour of Sarajevo would be complete without cevapi with kajmak  :)
We also had a series of workshops with local believers in Sarajevo - here is Jonny speaking with Pastor Sasa doing the translating. Although we could have had more people, it was still great for those that did attend.
On the last day we took the long drive (and as we got lost, even longer...) to the memorial to the biggest massacre since WWII in Srebrenica. It was REALLY hard, but I am glad we did it. The memorial is poignant and the tour guide was excellent. He only told me in confidence that he had actually been there the day that men and boys as young as 13,14 were separated out, and only through some miracle did they think he was took young (even though he was also 13) and his life was spared...many others weren't so lucky.
All in all, even with some hard experiences, I think it was an amazing time for everyone involved, and we are already talking about having it again in two years time! It was an extremely exciting ride, and one that I will gladly do again: so...  see you in 2016??

-Belinda Chaplin
YWAM Bosnia Herzegovina