Youth for Christ in Croatia recently organized an event in cooperation with the Croatian Association of “Life Without Limits” during which Nick Vujičić spoke at the largest evangelical event in Croatia since the Billy Graham crusade in the 1960’s. Nick was able to share his testimony with 1700 kids in elementary schools & high schools in Zagreb & Rijeka; thousands more heard him at evening events in both cities.
Born without arms and legs, Nick Vujičić has an inspiring story about overcoming obstacles and finding strength through faith in God.
In Rijeka, Nick visited 3 high schools, where he shared the gospel with 600 students. Nick was so deeply moved by the students at the school that before he left, he hugged all 600 students, delaying a scheduled lunch with pastors from Rijeka. At the lunch, he shared with all the pastors and event organizers about what moved him so deeply about the students at the school.
At one point, I asked the students if I may ask them two questions. They said yes. Then I asked them to close their eyes and raise one hand high in the air. Then I said if their answer is ‘YES’, they can make a fist. I first asked them: ‘Did you ever want to give up in your life?’ And I was astonished to see 95% of the hands were made into fists. At most, I’ve seen up to 50% fists, but 95% was a new record. Then I asked them: ‘Did you seriously try to give up on your life?’ And about 7 or 8 fists were there. Then I asked them if I could pray for all of them. They did allow me.”
In Zagreb, although it is not usually possible to preach in public schools, Nick spoke about God for 45 minutes, also sharing his testimony with students about how he was bullied. While Nick was talking, there were 3 guys who weren’t paying attention. Nick guessed they might be troublemakers. At the end of his talk, he said: “I can’t hug you all, because my arms would fall off…” but he asked those 3 guys to come forward so he could hug them.
The three young men were trying hard to hide their tears, but the tears just kept running. God was certainly at work there, as the team found out later that those 3 guys had the reputation for being bullies in their school. Nick also picked one girl out of the crowd. When she hugged him, she was also deeply moved and couldn’t hide her tears. Later it was discovered that the girl was a daughter of a famous Croatian general who was recently sentenced by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague to 25 years in prison. It was especially moving to see Nick, of Serbian background, hugging a daughter of a convicted Croatian general. Nick’s impact was such that the Mayor of the city of Zagreb called Nick the next day to say that the city would like Nick to address pupils and students again in the future.
Evening events in Zagreb & Rijeka
At first, event organizers were worried that the venue in Rijeka would be half empty, as they expected around 2000, but the hall ended up packed with about 4000 people, with some people standing because they couldn’t find a seat.
Churches of various evangelical denominations took part in the evening events – bringing together groups of people who usually would not cooperate with each other. The participating churches recruited 300 volunteers who donated their time and talents to enable many people to hear the gospel, also holding regular prayer meetings especially for Nick’s visit to Croatia.
Additionally, a choir at the evening event was made up of 130 beautiful male and female voices from various Christian communities. Some were especially moved to find out that Protestants and Catholics were united in praising God at both evening events, since this type of cooperation is not usual for protestant churches of different denominations and Roman Catholics.
On their way out of the meeting, each person received a copy of a letter from Nick, along with all the addresses of churches that supported this project, so that recipients would know where they can turn for counseling and assistance as they continue their journey of faith.
Good media & press coverage
People could read many interviews with Nick in the newspapers, and watch him on different TV channels. Perhaps most remarkable was that a Croatian National Broadcast reported directly from the venue in Zagreb, featuring the event during prime time News. Also, the evening event in Rijeka was live-streamed on internet. Nearly every Croatian heard about Nick, which Youth for Christ in Croatia hopes will open doors for some future ministry projects, especially in schools.
Below, you can view a feature about Nick from the Croatian TV show “Provjereno:”
Support of Croatian Government structures
Croatia is a secular country and it is not a custom that government structures support anything that has to do with faith or any religion. That is why organizers sought many prayers for their cooperation and openness, and experienced many good results in the end. Croatian President Ivo Josipović could not come to the venue, but wrote a personal letter of support. Nick was able to talk to pupils and students only because of the openness of Croatian Government. Both mayors (in Zagreb and Rijeka) gave full support.
Nick and his parents (who hadn’t been in this part of the world for 49 years) admitted they were a bit nervous when coming to Croatia, unsure how they would be received, since they are of Serbian background and Serbia had been at war with Croatia. Nick addressed this issue at the evening rally, saying that everyone needs to ask for forgiveness and forgive. He said that there is no one who is without sin, and that it is time for everyone to turn to the future, to support young people, who have a life ahead of them, instead of keeping them locked in the past.
Youth for Christ staff in Croatia continue to hear many beautiful stories and testimonies, as people are continuing to talk about Nick and the impact of his visit, even more than a month later. Thank you for your prayers for this tremendously successful outreach.
As a result of Nick’s tour, $7000 was donated to an institution that cares for people in need in the city of Rijeka, as well as a home for disabled children in the city of Zagreb.
To learn more about Nick and his story, visit http://www.lifewithoutlimbs.org.