Monday, November 15, 2004

15-Nov - Finally we have a community center...sort of

Hey gang,

It’s been a fun last couple of weeks and I thank you for your prayers! God’s been at work here and I believe it is in response to the prayers of his people!

New Believer – I first mentioned him a couple of weeks ago. He started coming to our Bible studies in response to the Bible Seeding Team in September. Not only has he been coming, but he is the most faithful member of the core-group!! This last Thursday, Shefqet made a decision to follow Jesus in a public way, in front of those of us who were present. Praise the Lord for a new member of the family. You’ll eat with him one day at the “marriage feast of the Lamb” with Christ in heaven!

Gjilan Community Center – This week we finally signed a two-year contract for a building. We’ve got a lot of work to do, as you can tell by the picture, but we’re off square one! I cannot
believe how long this has taken. This is partly because I am, frankly, pretty inexperienced. Part of this is that we have wanted to find the “right” place. Partly too it’s a product of trying to cement a healthy partnership between CAMA Services, International Ministries and our local partner, who doesn’t live in Gjilan. Yikes.

After signing the contract we bought our first paint and tile to begin the renovations. We’re going to do renovations in two phases. The first phase is to renovate the basement and the first floor. This involves tiling the floors, installing a bathroom, painting and furnishing the place. Half of our rent each month will help pay for these renovations. The basement will host our computer lab and occupational therapy center. The first floor will host our bookstore and visitor center, and temporary meeting space. Phase two will hopefully begin in the spring, which involves refinishing the second floor, where you see the five open windows and the open door. The second floor contains a large room that will ultimately host our large meeting room for church, meetings, forums, etc.

We’re excited about the opportunities that this location provides! I have been doing some "mindmapping" on its potential and how we're thinking of rolling out the ministry here. Ifyou're interested click here. God’s going to work here!!! It’s also going to cost a lot of money to do the renovations. If you feel led to help with those costs you can contribute to Kosovo Church planting by sending a check to the C&MA National Office marked “Kosovo Church Planting” in the memo line, or you can give online by clicking

Muslim Holiday – This weekend marked the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan (or Ramazan, as they call it here). The end of Ramadan is marked by the holiday called Bajram…though you’ll see a different name in other Muslim countries. Here Bajram is celebrated by three days of visiting friends and family, eating a lot of sweets and giving kids money (kids always have an angle ;) ). On our way to visit our old Landlord’s house, we were greeted by the nightly call to prayer (1MB, mp3, RealMedia)

Important National Church Meeting – I really want to ask you prayers for an important meeting on Monday, 22 November. The provisional government of Kosova has some legislation pending on regulating religion in Kosova. By and large, it looks like it will protect the rights of all the major religious groups in Kosova. However, in order to qualify for protection under the law, each religious group needs to declare that they have 500 members. Now, that’s not a problem for the Islamic community, or the Orthodox, or even the small Catholic community. HOWEVER, for the evangelical community that’s a challenge. The only way the evangelical community can pull that off is if ALL the Christian groups in Kosovo can come together and register as a collective organization. I can’t even tell you how difficult that has been in the past. Over the last five years there have been 4-5 separate efforts at creating a unified “national church” organization. Each one has failed as different groups of nationals and missionaries pulled in different directions. This time it’s serious. Please pray for a mighty movement of the Holy Spirit so that we can stand as a unified group before the provisional government here.

New Relationship for Sharing Christ – I also want to ask you to pray for Venhari and
his friend Agron. Venhari used to work at a small boutique next to my house. His first or second question to me as an American was, “Do you really think that Osama Bin Ladin was responsible for Sept 11? No real Muslim would do such a thing, he said. That continued into a discussion about Islam. Since then we’ve had a several conversations about Christianity and Islam. Pray that Melissa and I could build these kinds of relationships together. Sorry Venhari’s head is cut off, his friend Agron took the picture ;)

Car Bombing – I mention this, not so that you’ll worry, but just because it was interesting. Imagine for a minute the nicest Wal-Mart/Super K-Mart in your state. Imagine that folks from all over the county come daily to do their one-stop-shopping. The walk up and down the isle is shopping bliss, putting the best things Wal-Mart has to offer in their shopping carts. Now imagine that one day, inexplicably, someone drives a car into that beautiful shopping paradise and that car blows up four hours later. That’s what happened in Ferizaj this week, at our newest shopping paradise called Ben-Af. Well, fortunately hardly anyone was hurt and the young owner, who owns a similar store in Prizren, promised to rebuild the multi-million dollar (though uninsured) store. All this in a country with seventy percent unemployment. Things that make you go Hmmm.

Lot of love, hope everyone is doing well.

Jeff & Melissa

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