Part I: The Promise
This story will be told in a series comprised of 3 or 4 parts.
Two years after Hitler rose to power in Germany, a baby boy was born in 1935 in Ivanci, small village in southeastern Croatia. Although his mother eked out a fragile life in the poverty-drenched village, every year the international political sky darkened forebodingly, casting a deeper shadow over the Balkans.
The years between the two World Wars had been difficult in the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (later called Yugoslavia). A puttering democracy, subject to bitter internal rivalry, finally dissolved when King Aleksandar of Serbia declared himself dictator in 1929. At the same time, the U.S. Wall Street Crash in 1929 had a devastating effect in the Balkan countries—reducing the standard of living to a subsistence level. While France, Britain, and the U.S were preoccupied with their own crises, Hitler began to woo the Balkans, believing it to be one of the keys to his plan of European domination.
But King Aleksandar could not maintain the fragile peace between Serbs and Croats— in fact, secret and military police waged brutal campaigns against alleged enemies. Eventually, extremists assassinated King Aleksandar in 1934. In a show of support, Germany sent Hermann Goring and Alfred Rosenberg to attend the funeral.
Soon after Tomislav’s birth, his mother brought him to church in order to be dedicated. The pastor held up the boy for all to see amidst the congregation’s smiles, and all joined in prayer for the baby. Suddenly, one member claimed to receive a distinct word and impression in his prayer. “I saw the throne of God in heaven, and God said, ‘while you were in the womb of your mother, I sanctified and chose you for my ministry, to preach my word.’ From the throne, a spring of water was flowing into Tomislav’s mouth and then out again.”
Tomislav’s mother held that prophecy close to her heart during his early years, especially because of his incorrigibility. When he was nine years old, his mother called him inside the house for a conversation. She told him about the prophecy during his dedication and looked at him silently for a few minutes. “Because of this, be careful what you are doing in your life,” she finally said.
Even at nine years old, Tomislav was deeply stirred. The prophecy captured his imagination—from that point he lived in the awareness that his life belonged to God. This prophecy would give him strength in the many difficult and seemingly insurmountable challenges that were to arise in his life.
*Name has been changed