Women's Ministries leaders find creative ways to encourage others

South-East European WM activities during COVID-19

Trans-European Division (TED)

[South-East Europe] Despite the news of the novel coronavirus spreading throughout the entire world, the year 2020 began normally during the first two months in the South-East European Union Conference (SEEUC).

SEEUC Women’s Ministries (WM) department implemented planned activities, moving eagerly toward new concepts and ideas. And then, in the second half of March, everything changed. Pandemic. Lockdown. Isolation. However, WM in SEEUC did not stop its work. It only changed the ways and methods. Many activities kept women reaching out to their friends and neighbors.

Jelena Trajković, WM director for South Conference, narrates the story from Serbia.

For a year and a half, we have been giving Bible studies for non-Adventist women called ‘Teatime with a Book.’ Therefore, at the beginning of the year 2020, we had a special Agape dinner to give a Bible gift to each regular participant. It proved to be providential and helped these women in continuing their own Bible studies during the days of lockdown.

During the lockdown time, from March to June, we stayed in contact with them through different social medias. We also organized distribution of food and medicine for the elderly, ill, and needy.

During the summer months of July and August, we continued the Bible studies online and as a result three women requested baptism for September when the restrictive measures became somewhat released. It was a delight for the South Conference WM department to organize the baptismal ceremony and the entire worship service program.

During a delightful prayer breakfast in October, our church women shared everyday experiences, prayed together, and participated in a creative workshop. These activities, along with the exploration of relevant Biblical topics, help us become connected, inspired, and changed.

In November we had a special Creative Workshop meeting for the purpose of making gifts for the medical staff of the Infection Ward of the City Hospital in Ćuprija, central Serbia. Decoupage boxes, scented candles, and a Bible message brought back smiles to the faces of the exhausted nurses and doctors who are fighting relentlessly against COVID-19.

In December when restrictive measures became stricter again because of the enormously increased number of infected and ill patients, we created a Viber group for the South Conference WM members to stay connected, encouraged, and motivated for new activities.

Svetlana Paunović, WM director in the Main Belgrade Church of Belgrade, Serbia, gives this report.

During COVID-19 pandemic, women were the frontline fighters and workers outside the church and within it.

We managed to hold two WM meetings during the pandemic to observe special days—International Women’s Day of Prayer, March 7, 2020, and Women’s Ministries Emphasis Day, June 13, 2020.

When church services were possible, we engaged Adventist doctors and nurses in creating Health Sabbaths, giving true information and instructions about the proper diet, immunity improvement, and prevention and protection from the coronavirus.

When we needed better mobilization of Belgrade women for food and medicine distribution to the elderly and sick people, we created a special Viber group to handle it. We also took part in the humanitarian action ‘Solidarity Kitchen’ providing and preparing food for the homeless and destitute. At the same time, we were also collecting food, clothes, and other necessities for the Street Children Shelter institution and the Parentless Children institution ’Small Home Community.’

Through organizing prayer chains, we prayed for the medical staff. We donated blood in several emergency cases. We also donated masks and gloves for the workers of the Clinical Center and City Hospital in Belgrade, Serbia. Although not much, we did what we could.

Nataša Mihajlović, WM director in Bosnia and Herzegovina, sends a similar testimony.

When the restrictive measures prevented us from having worship services, we organized a WM prayer group praying regularly for the marriages and families in our communities, especially for the prevention of domestic violence, which according to the public reports, increased drastically during the pandemic times. We also organized Zoom meetings educating people to get rid of their addictions and gain control over their thoughts and emotions in non-violent ways.

Mira Pastonjicki, WM director from the Macedonian Mission, provides this chronicle.

Strumica and Kolešino, two districts in the eastern region of North Macedonia, observed WM Emphasis Day in November rather than in June, due to the temporarily relaxed measures in North Macedonia. WM department of the Main Skopje Church, in Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia, though reduced in number, diligently worked on keeping a well-known tradition of making New Year surprises for the public service workers on duty during the holiday seasons.

“Their smiles and gratitude were unforgettable,” writes Pastonjicki. “We also organized a WM Prayer Group but after thirteen regular meetings we had to switch to online meetings. This is our way to stay connected, encouraged, and cared for. We regularly pray for our visitors and church members and do what we can to help those in need.”

Marija Trajkovska, SEEUC WM director, relates her personal experience.

Trajkovska, who also works as a professor and dean of women at the Belgrade Theological Seminary, describes a special worship time during which the WM SOS Scholarship Awards were presented to three female theology students. After presenting the role and importance of WM department and inviting students to write devotionals for the WM Devotional Book, she also presented Jelena Dokmić, Danijela Rajić and Marija Živković–Spaić with the Scholarship Award letters giving them hope in finishing their studies more easily and successfully.

With regards to the year 2020, Trajkovska reminds us: “Yes, the previous year was different and difficult, but it was nevertheless blessed—enormously blessed—with the gifts of God love, protection, and provision. Let us rely on Him in these difficult times and everything will gain new meaning and purpose.”

Contributed by Marija Trajkovska, Women's Ministries director of South-East European Union Conference

Published in Mosaic newsletter, 2021 Q1, Winter issue