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Visit to Sipovo Reveals Beauty, Pain

From a Report
by Major Roland Sewell – 

The small town of Sipovo is nestled beside the river Pliver amongst beautiful mountains but is now scarred by the looting and devastation of the war. When I visited in February the houses were still smoldering; there was no water, no electricity, no work, no public services. I left feeling this was an enormous need that we couldn’t hope to meet but had to try. God had different plans.

Imagine, if you can, leaving your home at an hour’s notice, taking just what you can carry and fleeing for your life. Imagine then, returning some months later, when you are told it is safe, only to find your home a shell. No furnishings left, all that you have built up through your life lying in ashes. This was the experience of our translator Roger, but it is an experience common to thousands in Former Yugoslavia. What does the future hold?

Picture the woman who comes each day to collect a meal from the field kitchen, smiling and happy. I sat beside her and smiled with her, but as she looked up her face changed and she wept. She had lost husband son and her home. She sobbed uncontrollably.

In the Muslim and Croat Federation of Bosnia the aid is now flowing and houses are getting repaired. In the Republika of Srpska, where Sipovo is situated, it is not yet happening. The major donors (World Bank, European Community) are holding back the aid to try to encourage the handing over of leaders accused of war crimes. The strategy is understandable but who really suffers and will it be resented? For peace to last it has to be worth having!

Where to from here? It will take millions to repair the homes, re-establish the commerce, agriculture and normal life. We are inclined to say its too much for us to be involved. But these people need the loving touch of God in the healing and rehabilitation process that must accompany the peace and recovery.

It is early days but already there are signs of hope returning and God has a work for us to do and it probably goes beyond our greatest imaginings.

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