Despite sub-zero temperatures and a flu epidemic running at its peak, church members in Novi Sad, Serbia were impressed that some 100 hundred visitors joined with 200 Adventist members for five public lectures focused on the topic, "Quest for the Meaning of Life."
Held in a public hall, January 8 – 17, 2017, Dr Radiša Antić, director of the Ellen G. White Estate in the Trans-European Division and Newbold College senior lecturer in systematic theology, attracted an audience interested in philosophical and theological topics.
Local pastors and members were particularly encouraged that people living in a secular, post-modern culture braved -5 degrees Fahrenheit (-15 degrees Celsius) temperatures and a wind chill of -13 degrees Fahrenheit (-25 Celsius) to find answers in their quest.
Novi Sad is Serbia's second-largest city, with 277,000 residents. Young people are attracted there both by its famous university, and because of its many cultural programs, particularly the EXIT summer music festival.
The four Adventist churches in the city reach out to these residents with youth, community and health linked programs. A new church-plant is based around a successful health-club outreach not far from the town center.
Two days prior to the public lectures, Antić participated in an hour-long live TV program. This was on Christmas Eve, according to the Orthodox calendar (January 6). Antić came on air immediately following the Christmas pastoral letter of the Serbian Orthodox patriarch – guaranteeing him a significant audience. A group of Adventist pastors were kept busy over the next few days visiting contacts generated from phone calls that came as a reaction to the program.
While the lectures reached a live audience of some three-hundred, their impact will increase over the last weekend of January and each weekend in February. The series will be broadcast on a Novi Sad TV station which covers almost the entire territory of the North Serbian Conference and part of Belgrade.
On Saturday, 7 January, more than 500 Adventists from across the North Conference joined together to hear Antić present on the relevance of the writings of Adventist Church co-founder, Ellen White, in the 21st century. Other members followed the program online via a live stream.
Antić’s latest book, In His Will is Our Peace, was also shared at a special promotion, with roughly 260 copies being sold by the end of his lecture series.
That lecture series was not merely a one-time event, church leaders said. Novi Sad Central church is now focused on a follow-up program in a public hall. They will also continue their health outreach initiative, prayer discussion meetings, the Relay youth program and an active literature evangelism program.
Dragan Ćirić, North Serbian Conference president, is enthusiastic about these initiatives: “Novi Sad is the mother-church of the conference and the efforts it makes in preaching the Gospel are to be supported in the fullest sense,” he said, adding, “It was touching to see the enthusiasm of Dr. Antić and the nice group of visitors coming faithfully at a time in which almost no one dares to go out to the street.”