While many younger people are fleeing the Balkans, God is calling one World Challenge scholarship student and others like him back to their homeland.
I come from east Macedonia, and I was raised up in a Christian family. All of my life, I’ve known who God is. I was baptized in the Holy Spirit when I was eleven and then baptized in water when I was fifteen.
Because I didn’t have Christian friends, though, I lived in the world. I started to gamble, drink and go to clubs with my friends.
I sat on two chairs, one in the world and one with God. I knew something was wrong, that I should change my life, but I liked having my own way. I told myself, ‘My father is a pastor, and every Sunday I sit in church, so I’m safe. I’m going to heaven.’
A Call to Summit
My father worked during the week as a manager, and he made sure my family had a good life. We had food every day and went on vacations. Most people around us didn’t have that much, but I wanted more and more.
However, my father chose to serve the church full-time, and to me that was crazy. How would we have enough money? What if I couldn’t go out with my friends anymore?
About a week after my father went into ministry, I was in my room, and I suddenly felt that I had to make a decision whether to be in the world or work with God. I also felt that if I stayed in the world, I would never have his blessings.
Right then, I made the decision that I wanted to give my life over completely to Jesus, and I decided to go to Bible school.
When I told my parents, they were shocked. “How? What happened to you?”
They never thought I would go to seminary. I was never like that before.
We started looking at a Bible school in Budapest, and we met a ministry worker who told us about Summit because he had gone there.
My father asked me, “Do you want to Hungary or America? It doesn’t matter if you have a doctorate of theology if you don’t have a relationship with Christ. If you don’t desire to serve God, then ten diplomas on your wall don’t mean anything.”
If I went to Budapest, I could go outside the school and visit my old friends. There would be no accountability for where I spent my time.
I’d never had Christian friends; but if I went to Summit, I felt I would be with my brothers and sisters in Christ, in a safe place, learning about serving others for God.
God Makes a Way
However, there were several difficulties.
First, to come to America and study is very expensive for us. We were warned that there were no full scholarships to Summit. I opened the website to apply anyway, and on the page was ‘World Challenge – full scholarship.’
So God provided.
Next, to get a visa to America, even a student visa, is hard because the officials think students will try to stay in America.
It’s a problem, you know, for Macedonia. Many young people are leaving and living in other countries because they can get better jobs and have more money outside of our country.
When I went into the embassy, I was afraid they would reject my visa application or make me wait a long time.
The girl at the desk asked me, “Why are you going to America?”
“I’m going for my church and my father,” I told her.
She nodded and gave me a student visa for 2 years, and I was out in 3 minutes. It was unbelievable.
Macedonia’s Next Generation
Most people say to me, “Oh yeah, you will stay in America and live the good life.”
We have political problems in our country and that part of the world. Everything is corruption, everything is for money. If you have an education but are not with the political party, you can’t have a good job. Maybe you can work in a textile factory for $200 a month. That is minimum salary. People here ask me, “How? How can people live on that?” It’s hard, but they do.
So you see why many people have moved away to Germany, France, England, and the US.
When you go into most Macedonian churches, all you see is gray hair. Young people don’t believe in a future for Macedonia. As soon as they have an education and can do better for themselves, they move away. I don’t like that.
Who will be the next generation serving there?
My burden is to go back. I pray for God to remove the dark cloud from my country. People talk about improving the Balkans, getting rid of political corruption, but it can not happen outside of God.
Even if we have everything but don’t have God, we have nothing.
For me, I’m still praying for my future ministry. God knows what I will do when I go home. God will provide.