A Man with a Dream - Draho's Story
Coryell Juchems | November 2016
An Old Movement
Draho Poloha, who has served with Josiah Venture for the past decade in Slovakia, sat on a pew of the Jesus Church under the domed baby-blue ceiling with the weight of the Spirit pressing on his heart. He was nearing the end of the JV Fall Conference tour of the Moravian movement, but it wasn’t Moravia, Slovakia, or his childhood home of Serbia that was on his mind. 20 years ago, God had given him a passion for the people of Montenegro, and in the presence of ‘such a great cloud of witnesses’ as had passed through those church doors he asked himself, “Could the evangelical church in Montenegro experience a similar awakening like when people were waiting in line to get into this church?”
When the Jesus Church was built in the early 1700’s it was the only Protestant church in upper Silesia, a region situated between Germany, the Czech Republic, and Poland. It was built after a time of great opposition and conflict between the Catholic and Protestant churches, and it quickly became a beacon of hope and center for growth. People traveled from the surrounding cities and villages up to 100km by foot to attend its Sunday services. Many would walk all day Saturday and sleep in the grounds around the church in order to be among the thousands of people worshipping together on Sunday.
The church can comfortably hold 5,000, squeezing in an extra few thousand in a pinch, and in its early days it was brimming with people. Services were held one after another in German, Czech, Slovak, and Polish, and the groups waiting outside for their turn would sing praises in their own languages. Can you imagine it? Waiting in line with thousands of other believers for a chance to worship and learn together? The hunger and passion that those early church members felt far outweighs the almost absentminded ‘attend services on Christmas and Easter’ kind of Christianity we so often see here in Central and Eastern Europe today. The Jesus Church was part of a powerful movement that God was using to transform the entire region, and it is the dream of Draho to see this happen today in Montenegro.
For Draho, his experience at the Fall Conference was another rung on the ladder that God is asking him to climb. He says, “I was listening recently to how God used a few faithful men and woman to spark the movement in the entire world through the Moravian brothers… I believe that out there in Montenegro, God has young people who will be the main carriers of that movement.”
A New Movement
Though he now lives and serves with his family in Slovakia, Draho grew up in Serbia, and it was there that God first put Montenegro on his heart. The two countries, Serbia and Montenegro, are connected not only by language, but also by a turbulent political history. Both were formally a part of Yugoslavia. Montenegro is now a small country located on the Adriatic Sea. Only recently did it separate from Serbia, becoming a fully independent nation in 2006.
Montenegrins, like many people in this region, claim to be very religious but much more as a matter of national identity than of true belief. The majority are Orthodox, with smaller Muslim and Catholic populations. Evangelical Christians are mistrusted and often thought to be part of a sect. In the whole country there are only only 286 evangelical believers. “My city in Slovakia where I live now has more than 300 believers,” Draho says. “100 minutes away by airplane, our brothers and sisters need help.”
Despite its size, the church of Montenegro has a vision for sharing the gospel. Draho believes that the youth who will carry this movement are already there, but that they lack the help, support, and resources that he sees has made a difference in Slovakia and other JV countries. Using his experience with youth work in TCKompas (JV Slovakia), Draho wants to “paint a picture that will fit Montenegro” and equip the youth there to be at the center of what God is bringing about. He will be going on a vision trip in November to meet with Vlado, an old friend and pastor in the capital city of Podgorica, in order to see what kind of structures are already in place and what more can be done to help spark and sustain such a movement.
Draho is asking for prayer as he travels to Montenegro this month. He says, “I don't know what the result will be and how often I, or we as a family, will be able to go, but pray that God would use this in His plans to save the people of Montenegro. Pray for my obedience and submission to God's guidance through the Holy Spirit. For safe travel. Pray for my ‘rusty’ Serbian language. Pray for my family.”
The need in Montenegro is great, but Draho is ready to step in and fill it. He says, “I am curious how my small contribution of my troubled heart that desires to see God’s movement will be used in His plans for growth in His Kingdom.”
One of the desires of JV is to see nationals empowered and inspired to greater boldness and bigger dreams. Indigenous empowerment is one of our core values, and we love to see it coming to life in Draho.