He originally wrote his article as a project for
an AU English class. The assignment was to write an article for The Plain
"At the time I conceived the article, I was
convinced it would be sent to the magazine," Mr. Veljic explained.
But subsequent events in the WCG led him to conclude
the church was no longer interested in pointing to examples of Sabbath-keepers.
Mr. Veljic said he found the doctrinal changes
shocking--especially the speed of the changes.
Before enrolling at AU he had learned of the WCG
through an aunt he was visiting in England. He was baptized in March 1992
by two ministers based in England.
"As they were counseling me for baptism,"
Mr. Veljic said, "they dwelled on counting the costs. They asked me
if I was willing to die for my beliefs.
"Both of these men have now rejected the truths
they asked me if I was willing to die for. One of them in a recent letter
wrote that his former beliefs were in error."
When did Mr. Veljic first sense concern about the
WCG doctrinal shift?
"Actually, I was slow to catch on. It wasn't
until February 1995 that I began to question what was going on. I was a
new Christian, so they were able to take advantage of me."
But, once Mr. Veljic picked up on the magnitude
of the doctrinal changes, he and friends went underground at AU to circulate
information that would support the Sabbath and other basic doctrines the
WCG was rapidly altering.
Mr. Veljic and friends would photocopy and distribute
articles written by Seventh-day Adventist scholar Samuele Bacchiocchi, Herbert
W. Armstrong and others to distribute to their fellow students to refute
the new WCG teachings.
"We spent a lot of money buying key cards
to put in the AU photocopiers in order to duplicate the articles. One Sunday
I remember another student and I, both of us who had grown up in communist
states, sneaked into one of the buildings to make copies.
"He looked at me and said, `Does this remind
you of communism?' That's how we felt as students that semester if we didn't
go along with the changes."
After leaving AU, Mr. Veljic traveled to San Salvador,
El Salvador, where he spent a year learning Spanish and sharing his story
with brethren in Central America. Mr. Veljic speaks his native Serbian,
Russian, English and Spanish and is hard at work on Italian.
"I wished I'd studied a bit of Italian before
coming here for the Feast this year," he said. "But, don't worry,
I'll be fluent in Italian by the Feast next year."
Progress of the UCG
What does Mr. Veljic think about the current
state of the United Church of God, of which he is a member?
He says he is satisfied with the progress made
by the UCG over the past year.
"From a doctrinal viewpoint, we're fine. But,
I and many others are concerned that there is an attitude in the UCG that
ministers have more of the Holy Spirit than do the other members. Members
are asked what they think about things, but many are afraid to express their
"I have friends all over the world, so I think
I have a good feel for what is going on in many areas.
"I have also been dismayed to learn recently
that there are UCG leaders who would like to see In Transition go
But Mr. Veljic said that, although he is concerned
about too much central control, he also worries that church members may
forget the needs of their brethren worldwide.
"We--all of us around the world--are one family.
As part of that family Americans don't know how much they're blessed. I
live very modestly in Belgrade. I've lived in the third world. In Central
America, where I was for a year, the daily diet for many is eggs, beans
"I visited one of the brethren and noted that
the refrigerator was unplugged. It was used to store dishes.
"It's fine to want to build local-church buildings
in the United States, but we have to remember that there are other needs
Looking to the future
Mr. Veljic lives with his parents in Belgrade.
He is looking for full-time employment, but in his spare time he wants to
"get the truth out" in his native land.
"I've translated some things into Serbian,
and Croatian is very similar. I feel a passion to get the truth out. There
are 15 to 20 million living in the former Yugoslavia. The gospel hasn't
gone out in my native language.
"Some have told me the work is finished; it's
been done. But I don't believe it. I believe God's greatest still work lies
Mr. Veljic said he has a "zeal to translate,"
but he isn't interested in being a leader. "I have no ministerial aspirations,"
His current goal is to obtain a personal computer
and printer he can use to translate and print literature and an Internet
hookup to let him to stay in touch with brethren in other parts of the world.