Prayer Profile
The Bosnian of Serbia

[IMAGE] Former Yugoslavia, with its immense ethnic diversity, is probably Europe's most explosive region. After four of the six Yugoslavian republics (Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, and Bosnia-Hercegovina) declared their independence in 1991 and 1992, the two remaining republics (Serbia and Montenegro) formed a smaller republic known as "new Yugoslavia."

In new Yugoslavia there are 91,900 Bosnian Muslims. The Croat, Serb, and Bosnian are all Yugoslavs (South Slavs) who are similar in language and culture, yet all three have differing religious affiliations. The Bosnian are Muslim; the Croat are Catholic; and the Serb are Eastern Orthodox Christians.

The break-up of Yugoslavia led to a Croat-Muslim alliance in March of 1992. This was immediately followed by Serb military action. Efforts by the U. N. and other mediators to hold back Serbian aggression and "ethnic cleansing" have failed to deliver an acceptable solution.

What are their lives like?
After the Bosnian converted to Islam in the fifteenth century, many former nobles continued to rule the country as Ottoman Empire officials. Because of their willingness to become Muslims, the Bosnian were generally favored. They quickly dominated the professional and civil-service posts in the cities. The rural Bosnian remained largely involved in cereal farming and raising livestock (mainly sheep).

The rural Bosnian live in extended family units. They are patrilocal, which means that they live near the husband's family. All household members contribute to their economic well-being. Traditionally, the bulk of the agricultural labor and livestock care is the responsibility of the males. However, the civil war has severely disrupted both living and working situations for most Bosnian.

Ideally, Bosnian marriages are endogamous (within the group). In rural areas, marriage to a non-Muslim is extremely uncommon. When marriage to and "outsider" does occur, it is usually to a Muslim of another ethnic group. Polygyny (having more than one wife) is prohibited by state law.

The brutal civil war between the Serbs and Croatians began in 1992, after the Bosnian declared their independence. Seventy percent of Bosnia's factories, homes, schools, and mosques were destroyed. Approximately 100,000 Bosnian have been reported killed or missing. In 1993, more than 60,000 Bosnian lived in more than 40 concentration camps. Many mass graves have been discovered. The Bosnian are seen in the West as being the main victims of this civil war, and refugees can be found in nearly all European countries.

What are their beliefs?
Virtually all of the Bosnian are Muslims. The Islamic religion is based on the teachings of Mohammed. Islam is a religion of works that is based on five teachings or "pillars": (1) A Muslim must affirm that there is no god but Allah and that Mohammed is his prophet. (2) Five times a day he must pray while facing Mecca. (3) He must generously give alms. (4) He must fast during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim year. (5) He must try to make one pilgrimage to Mecca in his lifetime.

Even after the establishment of the Communist government in Yugoslavia in 1946, authorities tolerated Bosnian Muslim religious observances.

What are their needs?
The tragedy of the Bosnian has been vividly portrayed to the world by the media. The destruction of villages and towns, expulsion of their inhabitants, systematic looting, and raping of women have left deep scars and an abiding hatred between communities that once lived together and even intermarried.

The Bosnian are one of Europe's least evangelized peoples. Although missions agencies are currently working among the Bosnian of Serbia, very few have accepted Christ. Prayer is the key to reaching them with the Gospel.

Prayer Points

  • Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Bosnian toward Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
  • Pray that God will grant wisdom and favor to the missions agencies that are currently working among the Bosnian.
  • Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to Serbia and share Christ with the Bosnian.
  • Ask God to encourage the few known Bosnian believers in Serbia.
  • Pray that God will meet the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of the Bosnian.
  • Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Bosnian by the year 2000.
  • Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Bosnian bound.
  • Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.

See also the following related groups:
The Bosnian of Macedonia; Croatia; and Bosnia.

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Bosnian
  • Country: Serbia
  • Their language: Serbo-Croatian
  • Population: (1990) 85,900
    (1995) 91,900
    (2000) 90,500
  • Largest religion: Muslim (Hanafite) 99%
    Nonreligious 0.9%
  • Christians: <1%
  • Church members: 28
  • Scriptures in their own language: Bible
  • Jesus Film in their own language: Available
  • Christian broadcasts in their own language: Available
  • Mission agencies working among this people: 4
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 44,100 (48%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 2,800 (4%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 41,300 (44%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 47,800 (52%)
  • Country: Serbia
  • Population: (1990) 9,547,000
    (1995) 10,211,100
    (2000) 10,052,600
  • Major peoples in size order: Serb 65.5%
    Kossovar 17.7%
    Hungarian 4.5%
    Croat 3%
  • Major religions: Christian 70.3%
    Muslim 16.2%
    Nonreligious 9.9%
    Atheist 3.5%
  • Number of denominations: 28

© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center

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