it all started.
It was just before Christmas 1992.
Every night grotesque acts of war in the former Yugoslavia flickered
over our TV-screens. For me it was impossible to sit still and just
A calm voice inside me challenged me to act.
But what could I do?
time I was a form-master in a 4th grade at Furulunden Primary-School
in Mandal, Norway. I contacted the Principal Ragnhild Kleven, and suggested
that we as a school took initiative to prepare and send one big truck/trailer
of food, cloths and other needed items in order to help internal
refugees in the warzone. The answere was “yes”, and not
only our school got involved, but most of the city of Mandal.
The closing ceremony before christmas became something special that
year as pupils and teachers waved goodbye to me and the other driver
as we started our long jurney into the warzone in former Yugoslavia.
took shifts behind the wheel as we drove down Europe, -and anticipation
and tension arose as we got close to the border of Croatia. But nothing
did we know of what was waiting ahead of us.....
We had planned to to drive via Zagreb, and take the freeway eastwards
in direction of Belgrade. Our aim was to reach the city of Osijek in
the East Slavonian part of Croatia.
The city was at that time surrounded by Serbian troops at three sides.
Only a road from west led into the city.
I heard a clear voice
speaking to me.
Just as we entered the city of Maribor in Slovenia, I suddenly heared
a clear voice speaking to me saying: “You must not take the road
you have planned! Take the other road!” The voice was so convincing
and clear that I nearly startled.
I looked again at the map and found that there for sure
was another road we could take not too far from the Hungarian border,
and took that one. As we got further into Croatia we could see clear
evidence of the war, houses blown up and burned or peppered by bullets.
Just outside the city of Orahovica suddenly some black-clothed men with
balaclava over their heads jumped out with their guns pointing at us.
They checked our papers, and wanted to know where we were heading. When
they understood that we carried humanitarian aid and were heading for
Osijek, they let us go.
I have to confess that my heartbeat and bloodpreasure was a little high
at that moment.....
we reached Osijek that evening, -the day before christmas eve -92, it
was with joy and thankful hearts to the Lord. The first thing they asked
us was: “By which road did you come”? We explained what
had happened , and that we came the road along the Hungarian border.
“Oh, Thank God,” they replied. “We have been so afraied,
and have prayed for
you, because it has been a great battle between Serbians and Croatians
on the freeway today.
( On the road we first had planned to drive.)
What would have happened if we had taken that road, we´ll
never get to know. But that evening I added some extra words of thanks
in my evening prayer
for Gods clear and miraculous guidance and protection........
shall help these people.”
The next day, on Christmas eve, we had the pleasure to hand out big
family-packages to children and adults. To see the joy and thankfulness
in their faces as they received their
package, made a strong impression on me. Later that day, Samuel Baksa,
the coordinator of the Agape aid-program, took me to the soup-kitchen
where local refugees had
lined up to receive some soup in a small bucket together with a piece
of bread. This was their meal for Christmas celebration. As I watched
this silent and disiplined group of
people, I again heared that clear and calm voice inside me: “Oeystein,
You shall help these people!” It is difficult to
explaine how I felt when I realized that God wanted me to be even more
involved with this people, but I did like it says about Mary, the mother
of Jesus; “Mary remembered all these
things and thought deeply about them.” Luke 2,19 (Good News Bible)
So have I done, and the words spoken to me has become like a guide for
great haste to the hospital.
As we unloded the truck I went on top of a table to take a picture. But
the table collapsed under my weight and spontaneously I grabbed for something
in order not to fall.
Next to me was a broken window, and as I grabbed it, one of my
fingers was cut to the bone. Samuel Baksa brought me in haste to the hospital,
-or rather, what was left of the hospital.
The three story building was more or less smashed to pieces by granades,
but in the garage, under the hospital, the doctors and nurses had fixed
up a temporary hospital for emergency. As they nearly had no anesthetization,
they started to stitch my finger together without. But as they saw my
tears of pain, they finally injected a few drops. That night I did not
sleep too well, not only because of my painful finger,
but due to heavy booms from cannons, bombs and granades. We had been given
the safest room in the house. Down in the basement with sandbags covering
the windows, we slept on each a mattress.
morning, Christmas day, it was service in The Evangelical Church, or
“The Synagogue”, as it is still called. This place of worship
used to be a Jewish synagogue.
But as most all the jews living in this area was deported and later
killed during 2nd world war, the evangelical congregation bought it
and turned it into a church.
It was Dr. Peter Kuzmic that should preach this christmas morning, but
they asked me if i could share the word og God. Hardly ever have I been
less prepared. Nor did I have proper
cloths for the occation. Remember, I was there as a truckdriver, -not
a preacher. I must have been quite a spectacle for the congregation
that filled the church this
christmas morning in my not too clean jeans and a huge bandage on my
Oeystein & Samuel Baksa
Dr. Peter Kuzmic
shipments of aid.
Through the years we have, by the grace of God, been able to send 40
shipment of aid to all the different nationalities in Croatia, Bosnia
& Hercegovina, Albania and Kosovo. Most
of our aid have been locally effected by Agape.
we had been a big organisation, 40 shipment of aid might not sound so
much, but we are two ordinary people, my wife Edith and me, both having
had our full time jobs. Edith as a secretary, and I as a teacher and
principal. All we have done has been done during our spare time, different
holydays and vacations. But without help from others we had not been
able to accomplish this. I like specially to mention three names: Trygve
Djupevaag and Anders Rostoen, both from Austevoll municipality on the
west coast of Norway. Sadly they both
passed away too early. Then I must not forget Olaf Nomedal from Mandal.
A warmhearted pensioner that never thinks of himself when it comes to
help other. Nor will I forget all the
others that voluntarily have helped sorting, packing and supporting.
Only once have we received a small support for transport from the Norwegian
government. All the other have
become a reality due to people with a caring heart.
A great thanks to them all!
1: The childrens home.
In 1993 we first heared of the childrens home near Virovitica, Croatia.
From Antal Balog, one of the leaders of Agape, we heard about a pastorcouple
that had opened up their home for needed children. This family and their
17-18 children have since then become one of our regular “stops”
on our many tours. This family have brought hope and future to many
young people, that without them would have been in the most difficult
situation. We like to stay with this family and help them also in the
days to come. God bless this home and this family!
2: A single mother.
In Norway we have a long and dagerous coasline. Often people comes in
distress. When we receive their SOS, nobody askes: Why have they come
in distress? No, we do whatever we can in order to help them, often even
risking our own lives. This is an built in attitude in our people.
What has this to do with a single mother?
By shame we have to confess that often, when a young lady has come in
a situation of beeing pregnant outside of marriage, exclution has been
the church-solution. But who has the right to judge and to do so? Jesus
once said: “Whichever one of you has committed no sin may throw
the first stone at her.” John 8,7 (Good News Bible.)
Thanks to faithful friends we have been able, month by month to help her
and her kids through a difficult time.
....And there are so many more needing our help........
3: Other projects.
It will be too much to mention the many projects we have contributed
to. But in short: Two cars, -one truck and one pickup. One tent for
summercamps, chairs, soundequipment, wheelchairs, hospital and dentist-equipment,
equipment for a
school for blind children and more...
All has been done due to the grace of the Lord.
4: Spiritual help.
As we have brought humanitarian aid, we have also tried to meet the
deep spiritual need among the people. Through talks, prayers, teaching
and preaching The Good News we have pointed at Jesus Christ, -the hope
for today and the future. Jesus once said: “Man cannot live by
bread alone, but needs every word that God speaks.” Mt. 4,4 (Good
News Bible) We strongly believe in that combination as a whole. Help
where there is a fysical need, regardless of reason, -but not forget
that every human beeing also have
a deeper need, and for that reason Jesus came.
for us to continue to fill these needs we are now moving to Croatia
in order to be more effective and funtional.
We ask you to remember us in your prayers.
Read more under "Our new ministry"