Robert & Sandrina Jurjevich
Robert and Sandrina Jurjevich have been married for three decades, raised four children and involved directly or indirectly with the Balkan nations throughout those years. Their ministry experience through the years has covered missions, church planting, pastoring, men’s and women’s ministry, teaching and Biblical counseling.
Robert is a graduate of Continental Bible College (Continental Theological Seminary); BS Biblical and Theological Studies.
Sandrina is a graduate of Global University; BS Biblical and Theological Studies.
The following are our testimonies of how the Lord Jesus Christ came into our lives and brought us together for His purposes.
I was born in Mobile, Alabama, the seventh of eight children. My father, a chief engineer in the merchant marines, was the son of Croatian immigrants who settled first in Springfield, Illinois, and later moved to Perdido, Alabama. My mother, an elementary school teacher, was a native of Alabama with English and Creek Indian background.
In August of 1978, after an extensive search for spiritual reality, I received Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. One night while reading the Bible in bed, I fell asleep and had a dream that would change the course of my life. In the dream I was standing alone in the middle of a church building that was totally dark, to where I could not see my hand in front of my face. To my left across the sanctuary a door opened from a side room that was used for prayer meetings, and a bright beam of light flowed out and made a path across the floor. As I walked toward the light coming out from that room, I began to hear the voices of people praying. I recognized the voices to be those of my Christian friends, and realized that they were praying for me! As I reached out to completely open the door, one of the young ladies cried out with a loud voice, “JESUS IS COMING!” When I entered the room, no one was there. Just as the Bible says, in the twinkling of an eye, Jesus had returned and gathered everyone that was in that room unto Himself. I knew then the sensation of being left behind. Simply being religious was not enough, I had failed to have a personal relationship with God.
Awaking from the dream, trembling and sweating in fear of being eternally lost, I knelt beside my bed and repented of my sins and asked Jesus into my heart. The revelation at that moment in my spirit was that I was born again, becoming a new creation and receiving a new life from God the Father.
Within a month, I experienced the infilling/baptism of the Holy Spirit. I was attending a Sunday night service at a local church that was having a guest speaker, who was with the FGBMFI ministry (Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International). I honestly do not remember listening to the message for I simply had an urgency in my spirit to be prayed over. At the end of the message, I immediately went to the altar and asked for prayer, but nothing happened. However, when I went back to my seat the presence of God felt like a deep river flowing all around me. When my three friends and I drove away (I was driving) after the meeting, the presence of the Lord filled the atmosphere in the car. It seemed as if we had driven under a mighty waterfall, and it was consuming us as we began to praise His name. It was a thirty minute drive from the church to my home. I was driving but I do not remember drive. It was as if we left the church property, I blinked, and we then were parked outside my home. Suddenly finding myself parked in front of my home, there was another strange happening. I was speaking in a language I did not know. I closed my mouth, and when I opened my mouth, a new language came out. I left my friends with a quick wave of the hand and hurried into my house. My mother greeted me at the door and asked how the church service went. Not daring to open my mouth, I dashed upstairs to my bedroom, and proceeded to praise and pray in the language of the Spirit for several hours. The River was now flowing from within!
Several months later, while looking out through a window and worshipping the Lord, unexpectedly, the Lord spoke in what seemed like an audible voice, “I am sending you back to the land of your forefathers.” Quick and simple. No fanfare and no angelic hosts. I knew immediately that I was on my way to Croatia, one of six republics in the former Yugoslavia. I replied, “Lord, I have never been there and don’t know how I’m going to get there.” The Lord said nothing more about it till four years later.
In 1982, I went on my first summer missions trip to Europe, and had a week of ministry in Yugoslavia. At the end of the two month trip, I remained in Brussels, Belgium, where I attended and graduated from Continental Bible College, which is now Continental Theological Seminary ( www.ctsem.edu ) in 1984 with a B.A. in Biblical Studies and Theology. It was there that I met my wife, Sara (Sandrina) Deij, from The Netherlands. We were married in June of 1984 in Middelburg, The Netherlands. The Lord has blessed us with three sons and a beautiful daughter, all of whom are serving the Lord.
I was born in the coastal city of Vlissingen, located in the province of Zeeland in the The Netherlands. My father was a seaman in the Royal Dutch Navy till his retirement when I was a young child. My mother was a stay-at-home-mom, raising my three older sisters and me most of the time on her own. While my husband has always jokingly referred to being married to ‘The Viking’, my ancestry lineage is actually a combination of Dutch and French Huguenot.
As a child I went faithful to the Dutch Reform Church with my parents every Sunday, and attended Sunday School classes, which I didn’t always find appealing. I believed in God and can remember knowing Him my entire life, as far back as I can remember. However, the Sunday School classes were carried out in a strict and boring pattern, and did not relate to my weekly lifestyle.
When I was 8 years old, I came in contact with the children’s ministry of the Salvation Army. As a family, we went Sunday mornings to the Dutch Reform Church, and in the afternoon I went with great joy to the children’s program of the Salvation Army. There I learned, along with many other children from my neighborhood, more about God and how to love Him. The Lord was beginning to work in me the surrendering of my heart to Him, but I still did not understand it very well. After a few years, I stopped attending the children’s program of the Salvation Army, but I did not lose the desire to know Him.
One day I received an invitation from a neighbor who was starting a Bible Club for children, and my heart was immediately captivated by it when I attended. I was asked if I knew for sure that I was a child of God, or if I had ever before given the decision to follow Him. I believed in God, and sometimes felt Him, but couldn’t say for sure that I had received Jesus as my personal Savior from my sins. Suddenly I felt so small and empty, because I knew I would be surrendering my life to Jesus that night. I realized that you can have Christian parents, go to church every Sunday and fulfill all the religious obligations expected of you, and still not be a child of God.
I was so happy that night as I gave my heart to Jesus, but that was only the beginning of God’s work in my life, not the ending.
I was invited to be baptized in water at the local Pentecostal Church. In the Dutch Reform Church you were sprinkled with water, not submersed. I asked my mother which way was the right way to be baptized, and she said that the Biblical way was to be submersed. So I was baptized by submersion in the Pinskter Gemeente Vlissingen (Pentecostal Church of Vlissingen).
Over the next years, there were many trials concerning my faith in God, and at times I even doubted that He was with me. I learned through those experiences that God allowed them into my life in order to cause me to draw closer to Him, and to see that there was more to experience in Him. As a teenager, I heard about speaking in tongues and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and thought ‘that is nice’ for someone to receive, but never thought it could be for me. When I understood that it is a gift for every believer, I received my prayer language in the Spirit, which generated joy and a fulfilling peace in me.
Afterwards, my desire for more of God, more of His gifts and to be used of Him, grew as a mighty flame in my heart. I wanted God to use me completely in His ministry no matter the costs. Soon afterwards I began to work in the church as a deaconess. After having finished my degree, I began working for a number of years through the church as a social worker in homes for the homeless. The desire to be a missionary began to burn in my heart during those years, and my church was in agreement. I went to visit a mission base in Suriname, in South America, but did not feel the peace of the Lord to work there. Then my church wanted to send me to Indonesia, but the door closed. While on vacation to Macedonia (in former-Yugoslavia), the Lord spoke to me that was the country in which I was to live and work. Upon returning to Holland, I left for Continental Bible College in Brussels, Belgium.
Here is a summary of the years since then:
1984-85 We spent our first year of marriage in the US so that Sandrina could learn Southern cooking. Johan, our first son, was born in June of 1985 in Bay Minette, Alabama.
1985-86 We lived in Zagreb, Croatia, at the Evangelical Church where we did language and cultural studies.
1986-87 Connected with Christ Fellowship ( www.christfellow.org ) in Carrollton, GA, which became our home church and spiritual covering from the US. We spent the year in the US sharing the vision for Bosnia.
1987 We arrived in Sarajevo in August, and our second child, Lydia, was born in December.
1987-92 Pioneered and served as senior pastors of the church in Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia. When communism fell in 1991, we were able to register the church, Biblijska Vjerska Zajednica ‘RAFAEL’ (Fellowship of Biblical Faith ‘Rafael’ [Hebrew for: God our Healer], and legally function as a Bosnian church.
1990 Timothy, our third child, was borned in Sarajevo, Bosnia, in June 1990.
1992 While on a two month visit to the US, civil war broke out in Bosnia and Sarajevo was closed off to where we could not return. The BVZ Rafael church ceased and most of the members were scattered throughout the world as refugees.
1992 Joshua, our fourth child, was borned in Gorinchem, Holland, in September of 1992.
1992 – ’99 We resettled in Holland. The first two years (’92-’94) we lived in the city of Gorinchem where Robert served as the ministry coordinator for the Dutch/US mission organization The Bridge International ( www.bridgeinternational.org ) over the Balkan region (southeast Europe and Turkey). The next five years (’94-’95) we lived in Sandrina’s home town of Vlissingen, serving in leadership and missions through her home church.
1999 In December ’99, we moved back to the US, settling in Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, Alabama.
2001 – ’03 Robert served as the missions and associate pastor at Christian Life Church ( www.clcwired.com ) in Orange Beach, Alabama. Sandrina served as a counselor at a pregnant crisis center.
2003 – ’04 Robert served as Chief of Pastors at Bethany World Prayer Center ( www.bethany.com ) in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Sandrina began serving at the church’s Center of Hope as a counselor to the women of the church and community.
2004 – ’10 Robert began going on mission trips again to the Balkan region, especially with focus on Bosnia, while working as an independent contractor and developing a network of business relationships for supporting the mission goals. Sandrina has continued serving at the Bethany’s Center of Hope for Women as a Biblical counselor to the women of the church and community.
2010 – ’12 Robert served in Concord, North Carolina, at The Refuge ( www.TheRefuge.net ) as an executive pastor, and Sandrina served as a Biblical counselor and teacher for women.