In June 1989, while living far from home as refugees in Vienna, three members of the Radoslav and Nada Ivanović family joined the Church: Nada; her daughter, Dušanka; and her daughter-in-law, Nada Popović. When they returned to Serbia later that year, they were the only Church members in Sremska Mitrovica. The Ivanović women shared the gospel with their grandmother Živana Žiuković, and she was baptized in 1993. Two years later, Dušanka married Radomir Vučenović, and he, along with Dušanka’s brother Ðorđe, began investigating the Church. Because there were no missionaries in Serbia at the time, members traveled from Beograd to help teach them. On November 4, 1995, Ðorđe Ivanović and Radomir Vučenović were baptized. The family began holding meetings in their home with support from branches in Beograd and Novi Sad.
Mission president Johann Wondra noticed the growth in Sremska Mitrovica and organized a branch there in 1997. Everyone received a calling; even Ðorđe and Nada’s nine- and five-year-old children were called to serve on the branch welcoming committee. The Sremska Mitrovica Branch grew quickly, reaching more than 50 members two years later.
From March to June 1999, Sremska Mitrovica, Novi Sad, and Beograd were hit by NATO airstrikes. The night before the bombings started, Radomir received a spiritual assurance that they would be safe. With this assurance, he and Dušanka, along with the Ivanović family and Saints across Serbia, continued to attend Church with their children and to provide support to their fellow Saints. Going to Church required them to pass over bridges and by chemical plants, likely targets for attacks, but once they made it to the meetinghouse, said Ðorđe, “We felt peace.”
Due to the common perception that they belonged to an American church, Serbian Saints experienced increased opposition following the bombings. At one point, Nada was offered a job on the condition that she leave her church. She refused. “Everything you find good and worthy in my person,” she explained, “I received through this church.”
Despite the challenges, the Serbian Saints held out hope for brighter days for the Church. In December 2001 their fasting and prayers were answered when missionaries returned to Serbia. Radomir’s prayers that his parents would join the Church were also realized shortly after that time. Soon after, Dušanka, Radomir, and Ðorđe helped translate the Book of Mormon into Serbian for the benefit of members across the country. “In this Church I found many of my brothers and sisters,” Ðorđe reflected, “and since then I never feel alone.”