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Update from Croatia: When Tragedy Hits Twice

March 31, 2020
Collage of damage in Zagreb Croatia from the March 22, 2020 earthquakeby Vlado

Aristotle taught that when writing a story, it doesn't have to be true, but it must be convincing. No one would put two major disasters in one movie as it would be too much adversity to appear probable. What happened March 22 in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, was not probable, but is true. 

In the midst of the COVID-19 lock down, Zagreb had a severe earthquake. The irony of situation would be comic if it wasn’t so tragic. We've been fighting two enemies: one invisible, and the other unpredictable. Because of the coronavirus you can't go out, and because of the earthquake, you can't stay in. The downtown of Zagreb is badly damaged, mostly because it was built when there was no reinforced concrete. Some very old churches became ruins, exhibits in museums were destroyed, some hospitals have needed to be evacuated, and even the parliament building can't be used anymore. Up to 7,000 building units have been damaged, many of those were homes of people who needed to be evacuated. We praise the Lord for a relatively small number of casualties. Try to imagine if the hospitals would have needed to care for large groups of both urgent earthquake victims and coronavirus patients that would need to be strictly separated to prevent further spread of the disease.

The last devastating earthquake in Zagreb took place on Nov 9, 1880. It is interesting to read old documents which show in those days that people believed that the earthquake was a punishment for their sin. So the mayor, Mrazovich, invited citizens to repent and he even issued a law that strictly forbade any kind of curse. Anyone who broke that law would be sent to jail for a period of at least 6 hours, and up to 14 days.

While we don't believe that these methods would work today, we do believe that our world suffers from sin, and that personal repentance and the Gospel are still the only hope. Please pray that the Lord will give us the opportunity to minister with His grace as soon as the COVID-19 isolation is over. Please pray for Croatia. The number of the infected is growing. People are most afraid of what will happen to the economy, as many businesses are being shut down, and there will be no income from tourism, which is the predominant national industry. And pray especially for those who lost their homes in Zagreb.

Vlado is a national believer who attended a Reach Beyond media training. Please pray for Vlado, and for Reach Beyond missionaries, Mario and Suzi, as they continue to use media to proclaim the Gospel in Croatia.