Saturday, June 29, 2013

Answering the Macedonian Call

Mite & Krasimira Goshevi
Greetings to our family and friends from Skopje, the capital of Macedonia. We arrived here yesterday afternoon after driving across the border from Sofia, Bulgaria. We are here as guests of Pastor Mite Goshev and his family. His daughters, Lydia and Ani, have attended summer camps at the Black Sea with us for years and, through them, we began to develop an interest to visit the Church here. The Goshevi family have been gracious hosts and Mite's wife, Krasimira, prepared a wonderful Macedonian meal for us yesterday evening!

The Body of Christ here needs our prayers. The Orthodox Church is the dominant presence in this country but, while it offers a strong moral and cultural presence, it lacks spiritual force among the people. National identity is closely linked to Orthodox membership so many are Orthodox Christians simply because they are Macedonians and that's what Macedonians do. At the same time, the other ethnic groups have led to a strong Islamic presence. Mosques are everywhere! As we drove down into Skopje, the first thing that caught our eye was a HUGE mosque with a gold dome and towering minarets. We viewed the scene with a heaviness on our hearts until we lifted up our eyes and looked across the city. There, high on a mountain, was a giant cross overlooking the valley. We learned later that the Millennium Cross was placed there to celebrate two thousand years of Christianity in the region and stands over 200 feet high!

The non-Orthodox evangelical church here, though, is quite small. In a nation of about 2 million people, the Protestant church is estimated to be around 2,000 people. Pastor Mite shared with me that in Skopje, a city of over 700,000, when all the churches get together for an event, there are about 500 people. Small does not mean weak, however. We spent yesterday evening with a group of young people from several churches in the city and were touched by their love for the Lord and genuine desire to live for Him. As God continues to raise up believers like them, the Church has a bright future. Relationship and discipleship will be the key to building the Kingdom in Macedonia. People's hearts are hardened toward the Lord in this post-Communist culture, and they do not respond well to traditional evangelism. The walls must be torn down through personal relationship in order to pave the way for the gospel to do its work.

Please be praying for God's work here. The body of Christ in Macedonia faces numerous obstacles, but with God all things are possible! We can offer our love and support, and they can offer us an example of how to serve the Lord with grace and persistence. God bless!

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