Welsh pastor's book raises £4,000 for Croatian community's new pastoral centre

Rob James (second from right) with church leaders from Croatia at the launch of his book earlier in 2013

A Baptist pastor's book has almost sold out within six months of publication, and in so doing helped raise a further £4,000 to help the Christian community of Rijeka in Croatia build their new pastoral centre.

"It So Happened" by Rob James, of Westgate Chapel Pembroke, tells the amazing story of how a former British steel manager from Swansea became the catalyst for a mission that attracted the enthusiastic support of people throughout the whole of Wales when civil war broke out in the former Yugoslavia.

"We are all grateful to all those who have supported the Croatia Mercy Mission over the years and we are eagerly looking forward to the day when the new centre will open. God is good," said James.

"We printed a thousand copies and there are hardly any left. They have been attracting interest from all over the world. In fact the latest order has just arrived from a group of Christians in Vancouver who heard of it through a lady who was told of it in her local hairdresser's in Swansea!"

The book has been enthusiastically endorsed by Lord Anderson of Swansea who said James had "captured both the spirit and the magnificence of all John Thomas achieved by suggesting that 'What begins as one man's literal obedience to promptings from God developed into a movement that embraced local people and churches, the BBC and even Manchester United".

"John Thomas, who is a great persuader, graciously steps into the background and brings centre stage all those who gave their services free, together with companies and donated materials," Lord Anderson added.

Expressing his heartfelt thanks to James and the churches of Wales, Croatian pastor Stevo Doreta explained some of the financial difficulties being experienced by the congregation.

"Due to the economic crisis the construction work on the New Christian Centre was put down to slow gear," he said.

"We have sold the retreat centre in Fuzine to pay larger for part of the bank loan. We still have the old church building which we try to sell, but the real estate market is dead and, at this time it is impossible mission to sell it.

"One of our major donors in Germany has sent us another 100,000 euros. Our aim now is to complete totally all what has to be done on the roof and to prepare certain rooms for worship meetings so that the church can move to the new centre. After that we will continue work on completion of the building step by step."

The new centre is situated behind a mosque, which has been very supportive.

The imam said in his speech at the opening that he was glad the mosque was standing between the centre and another new Catholic church.

"The work these believers did and are still engaged in sums up everything I am seeking to do in and through Westgate," said James.

"We are doing all we can to enrich the life of our community too, and in so doing win a listening ear for the good news we want to share. Hopefully this small contribution of ours will have been a great Christmas present for the believers in Rijeka."

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