Saturday, November 26, 2005

In the News: Serbia hands over remains of 41 Kosovo Albanians found in mass graves

More bodies.  And more bodies.  I’m not trying to dwell on the issue of the returns of remains.  But I do want to give you an idea of how frequently this happens and how little time for wounds to heal may pass before they’re ripped off again.  Imagine in the US, in a state the size of Connecticut, if every few months thirty or forty bodies of murder victims were discovered in New York State.  The citizens of Connecticut would be in a panic.


Text of report in English by independent internet news agency KosovaLive Prishtina [Pristina], 25 November: The mortal remains of 41 Kosova [Kosovo] Albanians killed by Serb forces during the war in Kosova and found in mass graves in Serbia will be handed over this afternoon, the government's information office has announced.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Our first Sunday Service

We had our very first Sunday service yesterday!  Femi came down and preached for us.  Okay, in the interests of full-disclosure, only the oldest and youngest members of our group came.  Gaz happened by and chatted for a moment before continuing on.  We also took our first official “offering” at our first official Sunday service.  Femi reminded us of what the Bible teaches us about the importance of giving and thinking about others.  It’s a little awkward taking an offering in a group of ten…but probably more often for us Americans than for the nationals there.  We’re sooooo preoccupied with who has it, who doesn’t, who’s giving and who isn’t.  We want to begin incorporating aspects of church life into our core group fairly early.  Certain things need to be incorporated in the DNA from the beginning.  Because of the amount of foreign aid that has poured into Kosovo, there is a growing tendency in the population to look outside for support, rather than looking within.  Femi has reported, for example, that if every national in the mother church tithed, for example, they could meet their budget without foreign aid.  This is the goal, to build churches that are “three-self:” self-governing, self-supporting and self-propogating.”

Friday, November 11, 2005

test of RocketPost

I'm testing RocketPost here. It's suppose to be all-that...we'll see. I'm going to try to upload a picture here, which which has been my problem with BlogJet.

Fatmir...random picture

Another visit from my secret friend

One of the joys of being a Christian is knowing that you’re always a player in this immense divine drama.  Behind the scenes God is orchestrating this incredible production that began at the dawn of time.  For some Christians this really isn’t a bonus…it’s scary.  I think it’s a blast (usually).

Today was one of those days.  I got a visit from my friend who lives in a neighboring state.  He comes to town from time to time and when he does, he stops by.  Some of you may remember that he’s the man that picked up a Bible from the Book Fair/Bibleseeding Team here last September.  This is the fourth time we’ve met and each time I learn something new.

Today he again wanted to talk about Christianity and the original faith of the Albanian people.  Okay, originally the Illyrians (the Albanian’s ancestors) were pagans, but the Apostle Paul evidently brought the Gospel to the Illyrians in the middle of the first century (according to Romans 15.19).  As we talked about church history we read that passage together.  He knew that the Albanians had been “Christians” before the Turks brought Islam to Kosova.  For people in this part of the world, “Christian” means Catholic or Orthodox.  He didn’t know, however, that there had been believers among the Albanians (Illyrians) nearly since the dawn of the church.  As we continued to talk he asked me an unusual question.  Are you going to build a church in _____ (his city).  We talked about that for a while…how could it happen, what would the time frame look like.

I still don’t know my friends last name—he won’t tell me.  That’s fine with me, but the reason he won’t tell me is because of his fear of his community and the government there.  After we talked some more he said something that surprised me.  He said he still wouldn’t tell me his last name, but if we built a church in his city he would tell me and he would come.  He also said that there are large numbers of hidden Catholics in his city and that they would come too.

He said, right now it is too dangerous to openly be a Christian.  But if you (Americans) will come and build a church then we will know that we will be safe and that we can come.  I think many people will come.

I don’t know what all this means.  Here is a man from another city in another country who wants us to build a church in his city.  I’m not exactly sure if he’s come to the point where he has surrendered his life to Christ or not (and we talked about it J ), but I wonder, “God?  What are you doing?  What are you telling us?”  God is playing out the drama and we are players as he does so.  He is moving in people’s hearts and calling people back to himself, even if they don’t’ quite realize what they’re asking for.  It’s a good time to be a Christian!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Halloween Fun & Old Castles

We had a good time “celebrating” Halloween this year. My mom has been visiting with us for a week or so, which made it all the more fun. We don’t really do ‘trick or treating’ or anything like that, but we did have a good time making and decorating cookies for the day. Madison finally started back to public schoo, after an almost one-month teacher strike. The teachers are paid so little I can hardly blame them. One month is a lot to make up though.

After we decorated cookies and had a little party, complete with plates, napkins and cupcakes, we took a little field trip. I told the girls that we were headed for a “haunted castle” in . Depending on who you ask Novoberde ranges from very old, to very, very old.

Novoberde is mentioned as early as 1236 AD. It is easily recognized in the distance.

Some of my friends have said that this city, and the fort above, was the largest city in Europe centuries ago. In fact, there was a city of over three thousand people while the rest of the Europeans were still running around in skins. I don’t know if that’s true, but it is definitely OLD.

As we drove up we were confronted by just how old the castle is. I confessed to the girls that it really wasn’t haunted, but it was very old. While I think Madison had visions of Rapunzel, she was still impressed.


They like clambering over the rocks.

Old Gate and Girls

We also had the priviledge of visiting a very, very old mosque. The inscription said that the mosque was built in 1136.mosque outside Madison and a local playmate found their way to the top of the mineret. I was nervous that we were probably violating some cultural norm, but the villagers showing us around were certain that we were okay.

There was also an ancient church on the scene. We don’t know how old it is, though a young boy told me it dated to the 7th Century. That would have been an interesting period of time for Christians in Kosovo. Pressure wouldn’t begin to build between the Catholic West and the Orthorodox East for many years.

Who knows how these people worshipped in this church all those years ago. What did they understand of Jesus Christ, communion, baptism and the Scriptures?

Old Church

We may not be able to do all the North American things on Halloween, but traipsing around thousand-year-old ruins insn’t too bad