By Jayna Richardson
Each summer for the last few years, Dani and Vilma Siter have taken a couple weeks out of their schedule to walk across their country of Slovenia. They wake up early in the morning and walk for six to eight hours, often covering 20 miles or more while battling blisters, rain, and other discomfort. Why? The Siters are the leaders of “Family and Life Slovenia,” and they want to do everything they can to encourage and support the more than 130 HomeBuilders® groups that meet on a monthly basis throughout the country. What better way to express love and support than to travel by foot to meet and fellowship with as many groups as possible?
For 15 years, the Siters have led a vibrant marriage and family ministry through Weekend to Remember® seminars, marriage groups, family camps, prayers breakfasts, and other programs and training. Slovenia is predominantly a Catholic country, so the Siters work with and through the Catholic Church to disciple couples, strengthen their families, and point them to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Although many Slovenians consider themselves religious and Slovenia boasts one of the largest numbers of religious buildings per capita in Europe, ministry in Slovenia can be challenging. “The faith of many is traditional at best and doesn’t resonate in people’s daily lives,” says Dani. Slovenia has some of the highest rates of suicide and alcoholism worldwide. Meanwhile, marriage rates are dropping, and many couples—even those who consider themselves religious—are opting for cohabitation instead.
In spite of the difficulties, Dani and Vilma are seeing lives changed. They are the only full-time staff couple in Slovenia, but they estimate that their efforts along with the efforts of volunteers have had an impact on more than 7,000 Slovenians.
One young couple was experiencing major marriage struggles. They had two daughters but were living separate lives and had no hope that they could ever come together. The Siters invited them to a Weekend to Remember. They came, but arrived in separate cars. Vilma later spent some time one-on-one with the wife and shared the Four Spiritual Laws with her and explained how to have a relationship with Christ. Several weeks later, the young wife texted Vilma to let her know that she had received Christ and reconciled with her husband. The couple attended another conference together, and it was a turning point in their marriage. They joined a HomeBuilders group and eventually began leading their own group. They’ve since had two more children and are thriving in their new relationship.
The needs in Slovenia are great, but stories like this encourage the Siters in their dream of serving couples and families and seeing God at work in their country. The Siters are praying that God will provide additional couples to serve full-time in Slovenia so that more marriages and families can be transformed. To learn more, visit www.familyandlifeslovenia.org.