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Preaching the Word in War-Torn Macedonia
In the Balkans, fear and tension fill the hearts of those who see a flare-up of the ongoing conflict between ethnic Albanians and the other peoples of the region. Rebels making almost daily mortar attacks and shootings surround Macedonia's second largest city. Foreign workers have fled the tension-filled areas. The local population is scared and unsure of what the future holds. Yet a light is burning bright in the lives of many!
A bold indigenous Christian ministry is braving the bullets and the fear to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the hurting and needy during this time. They have produced thousands of pieces of gospel literature, audio cassettes of the New Testament, and other outreach materials. Their strategy is simple: meet the hurting people at the greatest need. They provide hope, comfort, and love. They provide a plan for eternal peace and hundreds have turned their hearts over to Jesus Christ.
"Our goal is to provide a Bible to every home," the leader says. The ministry places a heavy emphasis on providing Christian materials--on compact disc or cassette--to the blind.
Hand in hand with the gospel message, they are bringing food and clothing for the needy. Thousands of people have eaten a meal and stayed warm through the efforts of this untiring ministry, supported by individuals and churches through Christian Aid.
"The situation here is getting worse," the leader of this ministry reports from Skopje, the capital of Macedonia. "Many of the people from the western part of the country are leaving their jobs and their homes, and fleeing." Most of the refugees are ethnic Albanians, while some are Macedonian Slavs.
"Two days ago, thousands of refugees from Tetovo and other cities came here," he continues. "Many of these refugees are seeking help from the government. Many are still without food. This is an opportunity for us to witness to them and give out Bibles, New Testaments, gospel literature, and food. I will be in the downtown area giving out food and literature. The children are especially on my heart."
This minister of the gospel, like many others in the area, has opened up his own living quarters to house one or two refugee families.
Officially known as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, this land-locked nation has a population of 2,000,000 and covers almost 10,000 square miles of mostly mountainous land.
Two-thirds of the population are Orthodox Christians (Slavs), 30 percent are Muslim (ethnic Albanians), one-half of one percent are Roman Catholic, with the remaining three percent comprising other religions.