Parents-in-law of Croatian Baptist Marooned in Bihac

"We are Worried, but We are still Relaxed"


The parents-in-law of Boris Peterlin, Baptist layman and Director of the Zagreb-based Christian Information Service, are holding out in the hospital of war-torn Bihac.  Peterlin and his wife, Marina, last saw her parents, Dr. Ivan and Vesna Livakovic, three-and-a-half years ago.  But they have had contact by mobile phone as recently as November 30.


"In conversations," Peterlin relates, "they always seem most concerned about us being concerned about them.  They say, 'Well, it's not so bad as you have been hearing,' but we know from other sources that the situation is critical."


Peterlin continues: "We have had a fundamental choice: Not to worry, and to let God take care of them, for we cannot help much simply by trembling.  Or, we could live from one news program to another, always afraid of what the news might bring.  So, we are worried, but we are still relaxed.  We have our method of fighting [fear]: We celebrate all the birth­days, we organize parties for our kids, we want to live our lives to the fullest.  We want to celebrate life and the goodness we are expe­riencing.  By doing this, we believe we are helping [Marina's parents] in the best possible way.  If we did otherwise, we wouldn't be any good for our friends and relatives here [in Croatia] either."


Dr. and Mrs. Livakovic moved into a nine-square-meter room at the hospital two-and-a-half years ago after their apartment was damaged.  Living next door to the X-ray room, Mrs. Livakovic, an architect, has developed a counseling service for war victims.  Being at the hospital has long kept them abreast of the latest developments in Bihac: "It's the only institution in town which has to be kept going," Peterlin explains.  Dr. Livakovic, a radiologist, is normally on 24-hour-call.  Peterlin adds: "We've noticed in our correspondence that their spiritual life has become more intensive.  Going through this suffering has opened them to the reality of God."  His parents-in-law have always been nominal Catholics.


Desperate appeals from the Bihac hospital on November 23 mentioned flour, rice, vegetables, baby food and sugar as among the most crying needs.  In response, Peterlin wrote to a U.S. relief agency: "If there is anything you can do, please, do it now!"  The 700-bed Bihac hospital then had roughly 2,000 patients.


Dr. Bill Yoder

Berlin, November 25, 1994


Written for the “European Baptist News Service” in Hamburg, 394 words.