Meet the Speaker: Stephen Jakovac
Stephen Jakovac was born in Croatia, grew up in Australia, and lives in the United States. For the last 35 years, he has devoted his life to the study of biblical archaeology and similar studies. In his enthusiastic zeal to discover the Wonders of the Past he circled the world five times and is still travelling. He has visited all continents going to some of the world's most remote and dangerous places. He has brought with him a wealth in color slides which are shown via digital projectors connected to the computers onto huge screens. This dynamic speaker has captivated hundred of thousands of people around the world. People would say after his presentations, “We have never seen anything like this before. It is indeed the most beautiful picture program we have ever attended. We would not have missed then for anything.”
Stephen Jacovac and his team work tirelessly across the cultures to educate, support and instill hope and happiness in people’s hearts. Stephen knows first hand how tough and challenging life can be and how important it is to find the strength and courage to move on through challenges and hold on to your beliefs.
Born in a small Croatian town in 1939, Stephen was the youngest born child. He was well and truly a war child, his birth coinciding with the beginning of WWII in Europe. Following the devastation of the war, like most large families, his also became very poor and desperate to survive.
At the age of 18 Stephen and his older brother escaped from behind the “iron curtain” into the neighboring country of Austria where they were granted asylum together in a Refuge Camp.
Six months passed in the refuge camp and hope arrived in the form of an invitation to immigrate to Australia. In 1959 and at 19 years of age, he lands in the country of his dreams to face even more challenges ahead. Because of the language barrier he found it difficult to find work as a qualified electrician but did not let that dampen his enthusiasm and determination to start a better life.
He met and married a special lady, Zorica, and was soon blessed with two beautiful children, Joseph and Vesna. He started feeling Gods blessings.
His Life’s Work Begins
He soon moved his young family from Melbourne to Sydney to help his brother Dragan, who was called into the Ministry to take care of Sydney’s ethnic group. There he received a call from the Lord, to enter his ministry. So, the family moved to Avondale College to be educated and gain much needed knowledge to carry out what would soon become his life’s work.
His work’s first call was from South Queensland Conference in 1970, where he served and cared faithfully for two ethnic churches whilst also assisting a Conference Evangelist, Pastor W. Slight. This is where he deeply felt and caught the vision of evangelism. He began a few evangelical series at his churches, known as “Reach Out for Life,” and “Man, this is Life!”. Popularity grew as people were drawn by faith, resulting in many baptisms and the establishments of three ethnic churches in South Queensland Conference.
Then, toward the end of 1976 he received the call from Victoria to come and take care of the largest Yugoslav SDA church in Australia, Seddon. He moved there to begin his evangelistic campaigns with his ethnic members, year after year, known as “Wonders of the Past”.
The Faithful Come
People were quickly attracted to Stephen’s campaigns and flocked from near and far to discover the “Wonders”, accept the truth of the Bible and join Gods family. Soon the largest church became too small to accommodate the growing numbers and two new churches were organized, in the suburbs of Springvale and St. Albans.
After eight and half years in Melbourne, it was time to move onto and care for the most problematic ethnic church in Sydney, the Greater Sydney Conference, known as Granville Yugoslav church. People quickly became involved in evangelical efforts and the church began to grow rapidly.
Stephen then moved to the English speaking congregation of Blacktown, where he began his evangelistic campaigns in English. Due to some unfortunate life events, he decided to leave the Ministry, take a break and focus on healing.
Time to Take Wonders of The Past to the World
It was not long before he was called again, this time by his friend and colleague Pastor John Carter to the USA, to help him with his church and run evangelistic campaigns there.
This is where he caught a vision of the self-supporting Ministry, and three years later he started his own Ministry known as “Wonders of the Past/Adventist International Ministry.”
The first evangelistic campaign was held in the city of Kumasi, Ghana, West Africa, in 1997. There he was blessed by the Lord and supported by the Government to spread the word of GOD. A wonderful group of people also organized themselves into the supporting Ministry to start what would be a one of many campaigns to come. Tens of thousands of people were coming to the picture presentations, known as “Wonders of the Past” evening after evening.
Whilst in the USA, Stephen also accomplished MA and PhD accreditations in theology so that he can be more useful in his work.
Spreading Gods Message & Love
In summary, Stephen’s evangelistic campaigns took him and his team to many places and many countries around the world, from developed communities such America, Australia and Western Europe to the undeveloped countries, which are truly blessed in a special way.
People from all walks of like enjoy the presentation of the Wonders of the Past. In the Philippines people are changing their way of life for the better, as they are in towns across the huge continent of Africa.
In Ghana, for instance, there were from 25,000 to 60,000 people coming each evening for 14 days to hear and see those presentations. The same effect was experienced in Nigeria, Kenya and the Ukraine where thousands of people stood outside, waiting for the session to end so the presenter could show them the same presentation two hours later.
We also were blessed to present the Wonders of the Past to the war torn city of Sarajevo in 2003. Night after night, 8,000 came to feel the energy and hear the presentations.
The volunteers of this Ministry had a fascinating on their visit to Cuba – they all felt that heaven came down as the songs of praise were raising to heaven.
Our Work Continues
With all these beautiful experiences and encouragement, our ministry of dedicated volunteers continue our work with an open heart and blessings from God. We feel a sense of obligation and privilege and thank our heavenly Father for guiding us across cultures and barriers to present Wonders of the Past to a receptive, loving and diverse audience.