In 2018, Ben and Jessi Bock became the first AGWM missionaries to serve the Balkan nation of Montenegro. Always looking for creative ways to connect with people, in October 2019, they began an Instagram account entitled “Faces of Montenegro.”“The account showcases people around Montenegro, from pictures of people Ben takes while we travel around, and little stories from each person,” Jessi says. “He has taken around 200 photos. After we started the Instagram, we would get messages from people who recognized the people pictured, saying, ‘Hey, I know this person!’ It is a happy thing for them.”Having endured years of recent conflict, Montenegrins can have a very hard exterior, and hopelessness is rampant, Ben and Jessi explain. But people across the nation are remarkably hospitable and kind.At least once a week, Ben and Jessi pack their children — Oliver, Nora, and baby Lily — into their van and strike out across the small nation to meet, befriend, and minister to as many people as they can.To give to the Bock family, click this link.Ben’s photography allows the Bocks to meet people in these various locations.“He goes out every day, waiting for the Holy Spirit to reveal who he should approach,” Jessi describes. “When he takes people’s photos, Ben asks them to tell the world something they love about Montenegro. We hope to bring positivity into their lives, since many can’t change their situations.”Somehow the conversations always turn to spiritual matters, and Ben shares the good news about Jesus. Conversations often lead to opportunities to pray with people.“It’s a huge deal!” Jessi says. “Every time we pray with someone, the Spirit moves powerfully, and the person excitedly invites us back.”Most Montenegrins, Ben and Jessi have discovered, have never heard that God listens and answers prayer.“We’ve traveled to many villages in northern Montenegro, all of which are unreached with the gospel,” the couple says. “There are no believers in Jesus in the north, so these villages have been our priorities. Each village has welcomed us with open arms, and we know we’ve made friendships that will last forever.”In a blog composed for AGWM Europe’s website, Jessi writes:“As a child, I remember dreaming of being a missionary and praying, ‘Please use me to change the world.’ Missions was a beautiful picture to me. But then I became a missionary.If I had known my husband, Ben, and I would both lose our mothers during the first three-year term, would I still have gone? If I had known I would experience months of darkness battling fear and anxiety attacks and that our ventures into the community would result in tears 90 percent of the time, would I still have gone? If I had known God would strip us down to nothing and burn away every ounce of Ben and Jessi so He could recreate and rebuild us, would I have said yes to the pain?I don’t know.But I do know Ben and I see a beautiful picture of missions now—the picture of people being reconciled to God and allowing us to be part of their lives. That picture fades at times, but God continues to restore it. No longer a wide-lens snapshot of Montenegro knowing Jesus, we now see the familiar; up-close faces of people we know and care about who need Him.”“To every ‘Face of Montenegro,’ thank you for letting us take your photo and share a bit of your life with the world,” Ben concludes. “Your stories are worth being heard.”
To give to the Bock family, click this link.“Faces of Montenegro”: Missionary Couple Uses Instagram Campaign for Ministry Encounters
By Kristel Ringer Zelaya
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