Every three months, students from around the Balkans gather for one week in the Serbian city of Novi Sad to attend courses at the Baptist Theological School (BTS). They study, learn, worship, lodge, and eat together. They are the future of the evangelical witness to that part of the world, for few other opportunities exist for pastoral training and theological education.
When we arrived at BTS our hosts gave us a tour of the facilities. One of the most remarkable moments of that tour was our visit to the library, which contains several thousand theological books and resources, almost all of them in English. Access to theological resources—whether digital or print—that we take for granted in the West simply don't exist in Serbian.
The library's section on eschatology represents one striking example. There were exactly 17 English-language books on the shelf. This would be slim pickings in any U.S. seminary given the riches available. But the school's entire Serbian collection on the topic was comprised of a single, slim volume, which had been translated from German.
On the first day of class, I encouraged them to think about writing the missing books on those shelves. BTS and its partners are hard at work translating theological resources from English. But those translated works are only the seedbed for what will, in coming decades, be a more homegrown theological harvest. The school is working to inspire and equip a new generation of theologically trained leaders and writers to bless the Balkans. Lord willing, the pastors and church leaders being formed in the classrooms of BTS today will be teaching these courses to future cohorts and filling out the library's shelves.