January 18, 2010
By Kaduna,* an Alliance international worker
Serving in Bosnia-Hercegovina
I had had little exposure to drug addiction before I began leading a home group in Bosnia comprised mostly of ex-addicts in 2005. Sadly, some in the group have turned their backs on the freedom offered through Christ’s blood. But today I’d like to talk about one young man, Benjamin,* who has embraced that freedom and is devoting his life to help others do the same.
Benjamin and another young believer, Danijel,* both former drug addicts, started a ministry in the fall of 2008-Proslavi Oporavak (Celebrate Recovery). Their ministry helps ex-addicts successfully reintegrate into their families and society after leaving rehab. It’s a subject with which Benjamin is intimately familiar.
14-Year Journey into Darkness
Benjamin was born and raised in a middle-class Bosnian family. His parents gave him everything he could have ever wanted. But he began using marijuana, alcohol, and pills at the age of 15, because he was bored and his friends were using too, he says.
After completing high school in 1992-days before the war broke out and Bosnia’s borders were closed-Benjamin and a friend set out for Germany on what they thought would be the adventure of a lifetime. But Benjamin soon began using heroin, which led to increasing criminal activity and three arrests, the last of which landed him in jail for a year.
Once released, Benjamin was immediately extradited to Bosnia and banned for life from returning to Germany. He hoped that returning to his homeland would give him a fresh start, but he quickly fell back into using drugs.
Benjamin finally decided to take a road that would lead to his physical and spiritual healing-after 14 years of drug use, during eight of which he was addicted to heroin. He bought a one-way ticket to a drug rehab center in Croatia, sponsored by evangelicals from Spain. There he heard the gospel and accepted Christ. After serving as a counselor for nearly four years, he heard God’s call to return to Bosnia. He obediently returned in 2006, unsure of what lay ahead.
A Prodigal’s Return
Once in Bosnia, Benjamin began attending an evangelical church, and the Lord additionally provided him with a job and housing through the generosity of his parents. Benjamin has since helped many young men and women readjust to life after treatment and encouraged many more to go to rehab.
He volunteers at Proslavi Oporavak with Danijel and three other young men-each of whom came to Christ in Christian-based rehab centers. (Most former drug addicts in this part of the world find freedom from their addictions through the work of Christian-based rehab centers.) They conduct home visits, lead weekly support groups for addicts and former addicts, and meet with local employers and government agencies to help former addicts find jobs.
Proslavi Oporavak is also developing a support network for ex-addicts, assisting them to find welcoming local churches where they can be discipled. Reintegration is especially difficult when ex-addicts have accepted Christ and their families are not believers. So this year, Benjamin and his staff plan to expand their services, conducting monthly visits with the families of those in drug rehab to build relationships that give opportunities to share the gospel.
Alliance Women Step Up
A recent, generous gift from Alliance Women Ministries to their “Women in Crisis” project will provide needed funds to help Proslavi Oporavak serve the families of ex-addicts who have the greatest needs. This will include:
- Helping elderly parents buy medication or pay heating/electric bills
- Assisting in purchasing school supplies for children whose moms are struggling to make ends meet in the aftermath of their spouses’ addictions
Because of your prayer support and faithful giving to Alliance Great Commission Ministries, my teammates and I are privileged to have a small part in helping to reshape Bosnia’s future through the Church. We are blessed to work alongside believers like Benjamin and his four colleagues who are helping free many from the bondage of drug addiction and find new life in Christ.
“When we receive Christ,” Benjamin often preaches, “we get a second chance. Be sure to use it in a way that glorifies Him.”
* Names have been changed
Read about other Alliance outreaches in the Balkans.
What You Can Do
Praise God for the exciting working He is doing through Proslavi Oporavak. Pray that many drug users will be delivered from their addictions as they place their trust in Christ.