A Chance to Serve: Stojce’s Story
Sep 9, 2014 | 6 min read | Amy Nickerson
Stocje Nikolov grew up looking for love and happiness in the wrong places. After an attempted suicide during his mid-teens, Stojce was given a second chance at life. God led him from Macedonia to Serbia to study theology and then partner with Josiah Venture to disciple young leaders and pastor a new church plant. Now, Stojce and his wife Sara and their son live in Backa Topola where God is using their passion for young leaders to bring hope to those in need.
Q: What was your life like before you followed Christ?
A: I’m from Macedonia. I grew up in a very poor family. From an early age, I tried doing everything to be happy, to make people love me. I trained in so many sports. When I was 14 years old, I started to work as a DJ at a radio station. I was around many girls, I started drinking alcohol and doing drugs. But I saw that my life didn’t have purpose. I was asking, Why do I live?
One night, I remember coming home crying. I had drunk so much alcohol, I thought, I need to kill myself. I don’t know how many sleeping pills I took and mixed with the alcohol. It was a crazy combination! The only thing I remember is going down.
Q: Woah! What happened next?
A: I woke up in the hospital. I asked, Why, God? I want to be dead. Why didn’t you let me die?
I don’t remember who I spoke with, but I remember I heard a voice telling me, “God loves you so much. He is giving you one more chance for your life.” I talked about it with this man, and I asked him, “How does God love me? You see what I’m doing. Nobody loves me. God doesn’t love me.” He said, “Yeah, He loves you. He gave His son for you.”
I decided I had tried to find purpose and happiness in everything else in my life and now it was time to try God. That day, I received Christ in my life.
Q: How did choosing to follow God change you?
A: After that, I went to be with my friends, and I had beer in my hand. I started feeling like this beer wasn’t good anymore. I didn’t feel good with my friends. It wasn’t fun what they were doing. God had touched my heart and changed my life.
I learned more about God everyday. After one year, I came to a Bible school in Serbia. I came in and watched everybody and then looked at myself and the decisions I was making and decided it was time to fully commit to Him.
When I look back at the picture of myself seven years ago, I don’t recognize that person.
Q: How did you get started serving God in Serbia with JV?
A: I went to seminary in Serbia. I finished and thought I would go back to Macedonia and serve there in my church. I went back and after two months I felt like this wasn’t the place where I was supposed to be. I started to pray and ask God what His plan for my life was.
God said to go back to Serbia, so I did and started to work with young people. God called me to plant a new church with them. This started four years ago.
Then, I began working with Josiah Venture full-time one year ago. Before that, every summer I served with them. I came and volunteered for camps and some conferences for young leaders.
My focus now is discipleship with young leaders, and I still help with English camps. I believe God has called me to plant a new church and equip young leaders to be in ministry. I see how young people I’m discipling are growing and are in ministry, some of them preach, some of them lead worship. I see how they’re growing, and it’s amazing.
Q: What has God taught you about ministry this year?
A: I’ve learned so much about how Jesus did discipleship. It’s so different than how we do it today. When Jesus discipled someone, He trusted them. He gave people opportunities to serve. He sent them and gave them all authority.
When I prepare people for ministry I sometimes think they need to be fully trained, knowing everything, sinless before they serve. But I see that Jesus did it so differently. He said it’s okay to make mistakes, and He gave people chances to learn.
How He loves people is so different than how we love people. We sometimes only love people when they do things our way. I’ve learned to give people opportunities to serve. This is how God’s taught me this year.
Q: What excites you about what God is doing through JV in Serbia?
A: When I first came to English camp I led a discussion group, and I met a girl who said she was an atheist. She didn’t want to even talk about God. After six days, she came to me and said, “I need Jesus.”
It is amazing to see lives changed. I don’t see many organizations working with young leaders in Serbia. To see that JV is equipping young leaders, the next generation in this country, is exciting.
I knew I wanted to work with Josiah Venture because of this. I love what JV is doing, and I am so glad to be a part of it.
Stojce asks that this year you would pray with him and the rest of Josiah Venture that God would raise up more young leaders in Serbia who are fully committed to discipling people the way Jesus did, by loving and encouraging others and giving them opportunities to serve.