Honey and Hearts

In the chaos and desperate need following the Balkans War of the early 1990s, the hearts of believers in Belgrade were moved to bring material and physical help to refugees and those traumatized by the war. From that emergency the ‘Bread of Life’ organization was born, ministering in the love of Christ to acute material needs, but always with the aim of sharing the ‘Bread of Life’ with spiritually hungry and needy souls. The war crisis subsided and BOL’s ministry developed into a broader caring role, with a heart for the vulnerable. Today through various projects BOL workers sustain a vital Gospel ministry and reach out in loving care to many, including those trapped in addiction. One of the most interesting of their projects, designed to support and help former addicts, is that of Bee-keeping.

Hives

In 2014, with support from SGA[UK], forty hives and colonies were purchased as a start-up project. An additional twenty colonies were purchased in 2015. Hopes were high that within one or two seasons, under the direction of Pastor Dragan Stankovic, profit from honey production would help BOL to be more financially self-sustaining and less dependent upon outside support. However, financial considerations were not the principal motivation for launching this project.

Former addicts need constructive activity and ‘employment’ to help them re-integrate into the community and to everyday life. Many feel alienated and rejected. Regular employment is almost impossible to find. For most it is a difficult process to adapt to a disciplined, regular daily timetable, having lived long in a fractured and disorganized way. BOL’s Bee-keeping Project is designed to involve former addicts, giving them a sense of purpose and usefulness, and requiring a measure of self-discipline and orderly living. Ultimately the longing is for their salvation and spiritual growth.

Honey Jar

Early hopes of a bountiful ‘honey harvest’ were sadly dashed. Unsuitable weather resulted in a poor yield. Again, in 2016 there wasn’t enough honey to sustain the bees and nothing at all for sale. In 2017 however, the tide turned and BOL hearts were gladdened by a harvest of 500kg – not yet profit-making, but enough to invest for this current year and, in God’s will, to see an increased honey harvest.

Dragon & Marko

Financial matters aside, it is thrilling to see signs of success in BOL’s primary aim of ministering to former addicts. Dragan has several young men working with him, learning the complex demands of bee-keeping, and at the same time benefiting from his pastoral care and guidance. Marko, for example, is a young believer and church member, rescued from the slavery of addiction and now enthusiastically involved in the bee-keeping farm.

Marko’s progress is excellent. He has been able to purchase two hives of his own, hoping to develop his own business in the future. Dragan and the BOL staff rejoice as they witness the work of the Holy Spirit in this man’s life, transforming him spiritually, and enabling him to grow spiritually and live wisely. Marko is part of a more glorious harvest than honey – the harvest and nurture of souls!

Jasmina Tosic writes: ‘We are grateful to SGA for being a channel of support to establish the BOL Bee-keeping farm’.

Pray for this ministry, and give thanks to God for the ‘double’ harvest of ‘honey and hearts’ which our friends in BOL are witnessing.