Days 1-4: Distributing Roma translations in Serbia & Croatia

Thank you so much for your prayers for my trip. I left Sunday, Sept. 4, out of Kansas City. Everything went very smoothly, until it was time to leave from Atlanta, to Paris. There were problems with the plane, so we had to deplane and go to another terminal for a different plane, but the whole process put us behind schedule more than 5 hours. This meant I would miss my connection in Paris. Thankfully, we were able to change the flight itinerary, but this meant adding an extra flight to Amsterdam.

A requirement for entering Serbia is that I would need to show a negative COVID test that is no older than 48 hours. Because of the tight schedule, that meant I had to take the test in the States Saturday morning before I left in order to get the results in time, and yet have them still valid within the 48 hour limit when I would arrive in Serbia. Under the original schedule, I had a 4-hour cushion for it to still be valid when I arrived in Serbia. Now with the huge delay, I knew it would not longer be valid.

Thankfully, I had purchased ahead of time and brought with me two tests that can be done online with a virtual proctor from anywhere. I took it in the Amsterdam airport (in the Netherlands), tested negative again, and was able to use that proof both to board the plane to Serbia and at passport control when I arrived in Serbia.

I arrived in Serbia 11 hours behind schedule, and my suitcase did not show up. Unfortunately, it has all my toiletries, gifts for the Bible translators I am visiting and 1,500 business cards that we were planning to hand out at the distributions to give people information of how they can access the Bible translations online, in written and audio form. Audio is probably the very best way to distribute the Scriptures among the Roma, even more useful than written texts. I am still waiting for the suitcase to show up, four days later. Please pray it will arrive before I leave the city I am currently in to go to several other towns.

I met up with the new projector coordinator for The Word for the World, Pierre, who drove down from Slovakia, and we’ve had a very good time getting to know each other better and introducing him to the Roma translators. It has also been great to see and hug the translators in person again, after a year and eight months from when I left Croatia the day after Matthew’s motorcycle accident.

Coffee with translators and friends in Serbia
The new project coordinator, Pierre (The Word for the World Bible Translators) meeting with the translators in Serbia

On Tuesday we had a distribution at the house of one of the translators in Leskovac. It was great to have about 35 people come, listen to a presentation of the book we have translated which contains 50 stories from the Bible, the entire Gospel of Luke with explanatory footnotes, and a dictionary of key theological words. We also played an audio sample so they could hear it, and gave out the few business cards we had on hand and told them how they could access the translation online. See picture below.

Luke & 50 Bible Stories in Ari, also playing the audio version through a speaker

At that time, we also had special prayer for a couple who have not been able to have children, and for a grandmother whose children also cannot have children. Just like in Bible times, in the Roma culture it is extremely sad and shameful to not have children.

It was a joy to handout the Gospel of Luke and 50 Bible stories and to have them listen to the audio of Scripture in their heart language. Praise God! Thank you for your prayers and please continue to pray for the remaining days of travel and distribution.

4 thoughts on “Days 1-4: Distributing Roma translations in Serbia & Croatia

  1. Thank you so much for your updates, Todd. I have been following them for several years now. I first became aware of you when I came across a reference to your doctoral dissertation which had been published by Giorgias Press. It was transformational for me personally. Your “paper” finally started to answer the many questions I had begun to harbor regarding how we can really begin to know the authorial intent of inspired words written two thousand years ago in a different culture and different historical setting and different language. Your published dissertation was the first step in a complete re-alignment of my own theological journey through textual criticism and hermeneutics and thereby, textual exegesis. I now have happened to land on Dr. Michael Heiser’s “planet”, and am most satisfied, but I owe the nexus of this journey to you and your most illuminating doctoral dissertation. I celebrate your tireless work in our Lord’s service to the Roma people, and am jealous that I did not choose to pursue a more devout calling earlier in my life. You and your lovely wife and magnificent children will be an eternal testimony and spiritual legacy in the hallowed halls of the Kingdom.

    In Him,

    Bruce Cooper

    1. Dear Bruce, Thank you for you very kind but undeserved words of affirmation. I so appreciate your kindness and am very pleased to hear that my dissertation was useful and edifying to you. Thank you for praying for us. Your words are a real encouragement to me. In reply, I will say the same thing John Calvin once wrote (in my paraphrase), “If my writings have been helpful to you, would you kindly repay it by keeping me in your prayers.”
      Soli Deo Gloria,

  2. We join with all your Christian friends, to plead with our Father for the arrival of your suitcase containing so many precious things.
    Praising Him for getting you to Serbia, via an extra flight, and with a suitable Covid test.
    Thanks for helping us be part of your visits, via your reports and photos. May the Lord continue to bless the next days in His service there.

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