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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Daily bread for Bosnia

Lutherans are veterans in helping war's survivors

Massive devastation. That's what U.S. troops are discovering in Bosnia. Shelled-out villages, buildings reduced to rubble, houses charred by fire and stripped by looters, mass graves and shells of vehicles dot the landscape. The World Bank estimates that $5 billion or more will be needed to put Bosnia back together.

None of this surprises the Lutheran World Federation. LWF staff have been working in the former Yugoslavia throughout the war--even in such places as the war-torn enclave of Bihac. The LWF also coordinates refugee services in Tuzla, where U.S. troops serve as peacekeepers.

Funded in part by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America World Hunger Appeal and the International Disaster Fund, food, clothing and medicine have been provided by the LWF. One of its projects provided 10 tons of seed for farmers. In return, when the farmers harvested, they shared 270 tons of wheat and 80 tons of potatoes as well as many bushels of apples and pears. The food supplied schools, orphanages, hospitals and refugee housing centers.

A January Lutheran World Relief shipment--from ELCA and Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod congregations--supplied 80 tons of clothing, quilts and soap to the area.

In Nustar, Croatia, LWF funds set up a small sewing firm employing 12 women. Aid agencies buy and distribute the clothing to the needy.

The LWF also helped resettle Croat families in houses from which Croats were expelled at the war's beginning and which Serbs vacated last year. The families found broken toys, shattered crockery, ripped-open mattresses and mountains of clothes. Audunn Bjarni Olafsson, an LWF staff member, inspected the houses and drew up plans for renovation.

The ELCA also is represented in the Balkans by four chaplains, three stationed in Bosnia and one in Croatia. "The troops are searching for land mines and see devastation daily. The one place they can go and say whatever they want is the chaplain," says Chaplain Ken Ruppar, who from his office in Heidelberg, Germany, tracks the chaplains sent to the former Yugoslavia.


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