A Land of Crossroads | World Challenge

A Land of Crossroads

World Challenge Staff
December 20, 2018

Great opportunities for redemption and growth are opening in the Balkans.

The Balkans are a place where the East meets the West, Islam meets Christianity, Orthodoxy meets Catholicism, and Communism—at one point—met Democracy. 

This area which contains Albania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, as well as parts of Greece, Turkey and Romania has been a historic crossroads for empires, armies and dictators for centuries. 

War has ripped apart neighborhoods, religion has segregated towns, and politics has split families. Here, there are broken and hurting people that long to be a part of a community...any community.

At World Challenge, we believe that among all of these divisions God can and will bring unity. 

The Cry of the Spirit

Recently, our team attended a Missions Summit in Serbia with eleven other ministries. We met pastors who are zealous to see churches impact their local communities and home leaders who have a burden to reach their lost neighbors. 

Among them was our partner in Albania, Blerta. 

Her homeland, like most Balkan states, was stripped of all its religions by communism. After the socialist religious ban was lifted, Islamic countries began sponsoring mosques to be built in Albania. 

While traveling, one of Blerta’s teammates met two Albanians who were actually appalled to discover he’s a Christian. “Why aren’t you Muslim? We might not live in the country anymore, but we’re truer Albanians than you.”  

Rampant nationalism is another issue Blerta and her team regularly face. Finally free from invasion and outside occupation, many Balkan nations are fighting to redefine themselves, often to the exclusion of anyone who doesn’t conform to ethnic standards. 

More than anything, a spiritual void in people is desperately calling for the peace and belonging that only God’s Spirit can bring. 

A Light for Albania

After repeated cycles of promised prosperity and dismal reality, many Balkan people have lost faith in anything bringing improvement. 

At the Missions Summit, Blerta led a devotional that had clearly come from a hopeful heart for the Albanian people. 

“Don’t give up on this vision God has given us. We must never stop lifting up and loving broken people. Love them so much that you don’t do things for them but rather help them learn,” She said passionately. “Invest in them, take the risk. People like real people, so be a friend to them. They are your treasure. So give them your trust. As God lifts our heads up, let us help others lift their eyes to Him.” 

The greatest healing agent for Albanians and all of the Balkans’ people is the unchanging, eternal promise of a God who does not desert his children.

Through the passion of workers like Blerta, God is opening doors and incredible opportunities for our ministries in the Balkans. 

Lifting up the Balkans 

Please join us in praying for Blerta and other church leaders along with these precious people, believing that God’s work will be done. 

Albania – Pray for local Christians to have a steadfast heart for evangelism, especially with Islam as Albiania’s most prevalent religion. 

Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina – Pray for the Roma people (sometimes called gypsies) who are harshly discriminated against in these areas and who often represent the poorest of the poor.

Bulgaria, Croatia – Pray for God to redeem people’s hearts from the nationalism and racism that causes deep rifts between local people and immigrants or refugees. 

Macedonia, Turkey – Pray for God to strengthen the church, which has history stretching back to Biblical times but is struggling against persecution and seeking new ways to reach the unsaved.  

To learn more about how World Challenge's partners are working with the Roma community in the Balkans, check out Hope for Albania's Roma.