18th June, 1930 to 16th February, 2022
Milivoj Dimitrijevic served for many years in ministry and missions work. We acknowledge his service in the cause of God and offer our condolences to his family. The following tribute was prepared by his children.
Dad was born on the 18th of June, 1930 to parents, Djurica and Olga Dimitrijevic, in Novi Knjezevac, in what was then known as Yugoslavia, now called Serbia.
He was the eldest of four children, followed by a sister and two younger brothers. Being the eldest, meant that at a young age, Dad knew what hard work was, looking after his sister and brothers while mum and dad were out farming in the field.
At a very young age, Dad accepted employment as an apprentice shoemaker. He left home to live at his place of apprenticeship, in the home of what was then called his “Master” (the man who took him to be his apprentice and who taught him).
When he turned 16, he was baptised into the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement, and understood that he was to obey the law of God. In particular, the 4th commandment, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy,” and the 6th commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” featured prominently in his beliefs and in his life.
Because of the situation at the time, when all young men were conscripted, he also was called up at the age of 20 to serve as a soldier in the military.
As he refused to be a soldier, to bear arms and work on the Sabbath, he was called to attend court to answer for his faith and was sentenced multiple times, for a total of 12 years spent in prison, from the age of 20 till around 35.
The best years of his early adulthood was spent in prison, where he suffered very much. So much so, that his whole life and outlook was shaped by the suffering that he endured at the hands of the prison officers. This outlook stayed with him throughout his life.
In particular, he was starved of food for a total period of forty consecutive days, where he became so emaciated and weak, that the guards fed him secretly from the food they brought with themselves. In the end, Dad prayed for God to help him. God answered his prayers, and he continued to live on bread that rats brought him when the guards were prohibited to share their food.
Dad was tortured, left out in the cold, with little clothing, in an area known for its wolves. He was hanged by his hands tied behind his back from the ceiling, and other evils too numerous to mention.
There were good times too, during his imprisonment, where Dad often talked about having been trusted to run the kitchen, where he was allowed out of the prison, with large sums of money to pay bills. He was also entrusted to be the personal servant to the warden, who knew him well, allowed him into his home, taking care of his wife and family.
Because Dad was conscientious, there were many experiences that he related to us, of witnessing for the truth, of being in court and telling the judges of our faith.
When Dad was released from prison the final time, he decided to get married and met Mum, Piroska Vince in Fedemes, Hungary. After a short courtship, they were married in 1966.
Joseph, their son was born in 1968 followed by their daughter Lidija in 1971.
After many years, mum wanted to leave Yugoslavia and on his second trip to the General Conference, Dad was transferred to the Philippines as a missionary in 1975 where he stayed till 1979, the first worker from abroad who stayed there for the full 4-year term.
In the Philippines, he helped establish new churches and taught people to be self-sufficient. He taught them to make soy products, such as coffee, soy milk and tofu as well as farming. The soy products and farming proceeds were then sold for a profit.
Dad also spent a lot of time building churches and homes, a trade that he picked up during his time in prison, where he had ample time to practice, being involved in erecting many buildings during his incarceration.
Additionally, he organised the church members to do colporteur work, selling books and religious publications. With the money made from their entrepreneurial efforts, the Philippines Union became financially self-sufficient, no longer being funded by the General Conference, as was the case up until then.
During his time in the Philippines, as a family, we were happy there.
After another trip to the General Conference, he was transferred to Australia to work as a minister for the Yugoslav church, initially located in Auburn then finally to Schofields.
Here began another chapter of his life. He worked hard and tried his best to feed his young children and wife.
Our first home was in a rundown house in 14 Clarke Street, Riverstone, initially owned by Dad’s brother, Vass, which he eventually purchased from him. This became the family home for over 37 years, finally being sold before the move to George Street, Riverstone.
During this time, his son Joseph went to university, and his daughter Lidija was married to Szabolcs on July 26, 1992. This bought much joy to our family, Joseph gaining a brother-in-law, Lidija a husband and mum and dad another son and a son in law. After they were married, Lidija and Szabolcs lived in the back home on the Clarke Street property, before moving on to other properties.
Dad worked hard, he loved the truth, he always wanted to do missionary work. That was the theme of his life. We lived a hard life, experiencing constant hardship most of our life. But God is good. He blessed us in many other ways.
With Terry Barnett, and others, Dad was involved for many years in the construction of buildings and development of the church property in Elim Heights, a project that he held dear to his heart.
In his old age, in 2018, we finally moved out of Clarke Street to George Street. Here, Dad was happy. He loved our cooking and spent much time sitting in his favourite chair, reading the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. As the years passed, he spent more and more time sleeping and when he could, enjoyed watching horses and farm life on YouTube which reminded him of his early years.
Mum looked after Dad faithfully, all the days of their married life together, until she no longer could. Dad was loved by Mum and Dad also loved Mum and appreciated all that she did for him when he was no longer capable of looking after himself.
After a gradual decline, Dad passed away peacefully at home in George Street in the loving care of his family.
We still miss him, spend a lot of time crying and hope and pray that we all meet again, as a family, when Jesus comes to raise those sleeping in the grave and together, we shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air.
We would like to share the Bible verses below with you, a promise that we hold dear to our hearts.
“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:52-55).
Beloved husband of Piroska Dimitrijevic, and father of Joseph Dimitrijevic and Lidija Szoke.
~ The Dimitrijevic Family