Bosnia and Herzegovinia
Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovinia
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The Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina lies between Croatia and the former Yugoslavia with a small coastline of 20 km (12 miles) on the Adriatic Sea. The land area is slightly over 51,000 sq km (almost 20,000 sq miles) with a population of about 3.5 million people. The region once formed the Roman Province of Illyricum and Pannonia. By the seventh century the Slavic-speaking Serbs had settled in the area. By the tenth century Croatian kings has succeeded in ruling Bosnia only to be replaced by the Hungarians in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. By 1200 Bosnia became independent and controlled Herzegovina. Independence lasted a little more than 250 years before the Ottoman Turks invaded in 1463 and broke the kingdom into several small principalities and began to exact tribute from these petty states. The Austrian Empire penetrated the area in the seventeenth centuryand began to influence the area. In the nineteenth century tensions began to develop between the Muslim aristocrats and the Ottoman Turkish government. The Austrian influence eventually became sufficient enough to annex the area in 1908, later a contributing factor to the rise of the First World War. Following the war the Serbs were added to the area and the country became the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, eventually renamed Yugoslavia. With the break up of Yugoslavia in 1991 Bosnia and Herzegovina declared sovereignty and the republic was formed in 1994. The era of independence was filled with conflict and bloodshed in which an estimated 220,000 people lost their lives. Today the country is almost equally divided, for purposes of administration, between the Muslim-Croat Federation and the Bosnian Serbs. The federal republic has two legislative bodies, the Chamber of Municipalities and the Chamber of Citizens.
Much of the land of Bosnia and Herzegovina is mountainous with the south consisting of a large limestone plateau. Forests of beech and pine cover much of the land and contributed significantly to the economy before the collapse in the early 1990s. Agriculture is centered along the Sava River, the border with Croatia. Grapes, fruit, cereals and sheep are the main agricultural products. Because of years of war industry is virtually at a standstill. At present the country must rely heavily on aid from the United Nations.
Bosnia and Herzegovina have had a long and unique religious history. When the separate state was formed in the thirteenth century the ruler converted to a form of Christianity known as Bogomilism, which subscribes to the principles that the world is governed by good (spiritual) and evil (material). As this position was condemned in both the east and the west the Bosnian Church was considered heretical by both the Orthodox and Roman churches. Eventually many of the Bogomil leaders converted to Islam and the heresy was largely forgotten as the majority of the peasants had remained orthodox Christians. Today the religious population includes about 40% Serbian Muslims, 31% Serbian Orthodox and about 15% Roman Catholics (mostly Croats). Other Protestant groups make up about 4% of the population while the remaining ten percent fall into other categories.
The Stone-Campbell Movement is a newcomer to the spiritual scene in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mac Lynn in his book Churches of Christ around the World reports that the American a cappella Churches of Christ have been interested in expanding their work into the area but have previously been hindered by the rule of communism and more recently by war.
The American Christian Churches and Churches of Christ have been able to open a work in the town of Banja Luka in northern Bosnia. The Fellowship of Associates of Medical Evangelism (FAME) in partnership with the Bosnia Network (a collaboration of congregations including Clovernook Christian Church of Cincinnati, Ohio and First Christian Church of Columbus, Indiana) opened a clinic in 2001 in Banja Luka under missionary Dragan Kocic. The clinic works for healing of both the physically and spiritually wounded.
The American mission organization Team Expansion together with the Peacemakers Adult Bible Fellowship of Southeast Christian Church of Louisville, Kentucky has also been at work in Bosnia since the late 1990s. Teaching English as a second language has been an area of emphasis as well as the launching of a church-planting movement. Team Expansion is also leading short-term mission trips into Bosnia with the next trip being planned for the summer of 2004. White Fields Evangelism of Joplin, Missouri also reports evangelistic work as having been carried out in Bosnia.
Clinton J. Holloway
National Profiles Editor
For further historical reference:
Churches of Christ Around the World, Lynn, Mac, 21st Century Christian Publications, Nashville, TN, 2003.