Balkans Base

Crista Ashworth, Communications Coordinator

European Initiative is pleased to announce the launch of its second European base in Zagreb, Croatia. Poised to reach the Balkans region of southeastern Europe, EI’s new base is led by Jerry and Zuzanna Low.

The Balkans consists of the following nations: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Slovenia, and Serbia—and debatably, a few other bordering nations on the Balkan Peninsula. This war-torn area is still full of Eastern European charm but is also fraught with destitution and poverty. The physical poverty is exceeded only by the spiritual poverty; less than 0.7% of those living in the Balkans are evangelical Christians.

Even though EI’s base in the Balkans has been established for just eight months, we have been actively engaged in the region for years. European Initiative has been able to help some of the poorer communities in the Balkans with truckloads of shoes, coats and food for many winters. Presenting a gospel in word and deed has deeply impacted thousands of families in rural villages in the region.  We are hopeful that our humanitarian aid efforts will multiply under the leadership of the Lows.

EI Balkans has been busy building connections and plowing the ground since its official launch in January 2014. The Lows are developing a strong network of churches and ministries in the area and hosted the internationally renowned Christian ballet company Ballet Magnificat for high-impact outreaches in Zagreb this past spring. Huge crowds gathered in the city square to watch these dancers brilliantly present the gospel with power and artistry. Hundreds of Croatians heard about a “personal relationship” with Jesus for the very first time. Additionally, the Lows brought a dozen Zagreb churches together to support the ballet outreaches. The cooperation among churches was unprecedented in recent history!

A few months ago Serbia endured its worst flooding in more than 100 years. Jerry and Zuzanna traveled to Serbia to assess the damage in one of the hardest hit regions. Motivated to “do something” to help families who lost their homes, they communicated the needs to American churches and Christians who responded with great generosity to help. The Lows then went into action finding Serbian churches and aid organizations that are utilizing the funds from the American EI givers to purchase food, water and needed construction materials for the flood victims.

Jerry and Zuzanna Low, not only bring a wealth of experience to the team, but also a little Eastern European flavor. Zuzanna was born into a large family in Subotica, Yugoslavia (Serbia). She grew up in poverty with the odds stacked against her; however she went on to study at a university in Subotica, obtained an Associate’s Degree in Architecture and later had a successful career in retail management. At the age of nineteen she accepted Jesus as her Savior, and married Jerry, an American missionary to Yugoslavia, in 1986.

Jerry Low has his own story of overcoming adversity: he found Jesus in a prison cell after his life had spiraled out of control due to drug addictions. He was radically saved and felt a passion to tell everyone about Jesus. After being released from prison, he spent most of his time witnessing to people on the streets, in front of abortion clinics, at rock concerts and wherever there were hurting people. After completing his studies at Christ for the Nations Institute, he was then commissioned by his church as a missionary to Yugoslavia in 1985.

Shortly after they were married, the Lows returned to the States and lived there from the late 1980’s until their recent move to Zagreb. In the interim they participated in several EI missions trips to Romania. They are thrilled to finally return to the region their hearts have loved for so long. Jerry and Zuzanna have three adult children: Asa (27), Gordon (25) and Joy (20), who all currently live in the USA, and one furry “baby”, their dog Hershey who was recently reunited with Jerry and Zuzanna in Croatia. You can see all the latest happenings with the Lows and EI Balkans on their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/EIBalkans.

From its inception, European Initiative’s blueprint has been to establish twelve bases in capital cities throughout Europe, creating a spark for the forward movement of God’s Kingdom across the continent. Seeing the second EI base become a reality is a dream come true for EI Director Jeff Serio.

“EI has just become stronger with the Lows joining the team. They bring a unique set of giftings and their calling to the Balkans has been tested and affirmed by their pastor and other respected leaders.”

European Initiative remains fully committed to change Europe’s spiritual course. As a result of your prayers and financial partnership, many thousands of Europeans are hearing the life- changing message of the Gospel for the very first time. Will you help us continue to reach lives across Europe? Would you prayerfully consider investing in the work of the Gospel through EI? Together we can see a great awakening sweep across Europe.