Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Ouch....Americans and current events

A friend pointed this video out to me the other day.  All I can hope is that it isn’t a representative sample…it is pretty funny though.  


In a few short weeks we’ll be returning to the US to talk to folks about what God is doing in Kosovo.  I’m a little scared!  You can’t paint everyone with the same brush, but Americans do have a difficult time with geography.  Several people, when told we, or our team, are working in Kosovo have asked, “Where in Bosnia is that?” or “Now that’s in Russia, right?”

I’m not trying to bust on Americans.  America is a very, very big place.  It’s bigger than most Europeans can really comprehend.  At the same time, we definitely have room for improvement.


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Kosovo's Q1 Trade Gap Narrows by 5.17% Y/Y to 92.1 Mln Euro

Good news on the economic front in Kosovo.  Kosovo only produces twenty percent of the food it consumes and produces very little in the way of durable goods or consumer items.  But the trade deficit fell for the first quarter of 2006 by 5.17 percent.  That is, exports rose and imports fell.  I’m not really an economist, but increased exports sounds good to me. 


Here are some highlights:

·         Kosovo's main exports were the raw materials, or 54.8% of all exports. Leather and leather products made 16.2% of all exports and food and beverages contributed 11.5% of the total.

·         Kosovo imported mainly raw materials - 19.0% of all imports - followed by food, beverages and tobacco with 13.2%. Machines and electrical appliances made 12.0% of all imports.

·         Italy and Macedonia were Kosovo's main exports destinations in the first quarter of 2006. Exports to Italy totalled 1.09 million euro, or 15.2% of all exports. Exports to Macedonia were 1.04 million euro, or 14.6% of the total.

·         Macedonia remained Kosovo's main trading partner in terms of imports, followed by Serbia and Montenegro. Even though Kosovo remains part of the loose union of Serbia and Montenegro, which succeeded rump Yugoslavia in 2003, the province operates customs offices at its borders with the rest of Serbia and Montenegro.

·         Imports from Macedonia through March were 28.5% of Kosovo's imports and imports from Serbia and Montenegro contributed 19.5% of the total.

From KosovaReport.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Sorry, you can ignore this…I’m checking the feed.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Common Statement - Interfaith Conference in Peja

Earlier I posted that the Protestants were only invited as observers, not as participants to the Interfaith Conference in Peja (Pec) Kosova last week.  It appears that the Evangelical representatives were involved to a more significant degree than I first thought.   Yesterday I received a copy of the documents which came out of the conference.  There are many, many good things in this doucment.  Some readers might knee-jerk against these sorts of ecumenical types of conferences, but I believe it’s a very positive move for the Protestant churches of Kosova.






MAY 2-3, 2006





On May 2-3, 2006 the leaders and senior representatives of the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Islamic Community of Kosovo, the Protestant Evangelical Church and the Jewish Community gathered at the historical Pec Patriarchate Monastery for an Interfaith Conference on Peaceful Coexistence and Dialogue.


The Conference was held at the initiative of religious representatives in Kosovo, hosted by the Serbian Orthodox Church, and organized and sponsored by Norwegian Church Aid.


On behalf of His Holiness Patriarch Pavle, the Conference was opened by His Eminence Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral. The opening ceremony was attended by representatives of the International Community, local authorities and other dignitaries.


Gratitude is herein expressed to those who helped facilitate this Conference, notably: The sisterhood of the Pec Patriarchate Monastery, the brotherhood of Decani Monastery, the staff of the Kosovo and Metohija Office of the Serbian Orthodox Church, the international moderators, KFOR, and in particular the Italian contingent at the Pec Patriarchate, UNMIK and local municipal authorities.


The goal of the Conference was to provide an opportunity for the respective leaders of the religious communities to discuss key issues and values shared by their communities, and to identify desired joint initiatives to promote reconciliation and peace, mutual respect and acceptance, common life and cooperation through an institutionalised form of dialogue and concrete project activities.


Therefore, we, the religious leaders, are convinced that hatred and war represent defeat and tragedy for all, while reconciliation and forgiveness lead to freedom for all and for everyone. A person who hates is never free. True freedom exists in serving God by serving every human person regardless of their faith, nationality and every other adherence.


Faith in the God of peace, justice and love deem it unworthy only to tolerate one another as a “necessary evil”. Neither is it enough as persons and communities to merely co-exist one next to the other. Rather, we are invited by our faith and conscience to live one with the other. Ultimately, we desire and pray that we be enabled to live one for the other. In so doing, we respect the identity and dignity of every person and every community by accepting the principle of unity in diversity.


In coming to terms with the past we acknowledge that all communities have suffered. We express sorrow for one another�s suffering, praying that this suffering will no longer be a stumbling block. We must move towards an open future with interaction and profound responsibility for each other before God.


We condemn the destruction of all churches, mosques, cemeteries and other religious sites, and we rejoice in the restoration process, which is now under way and we anticipate its completion. We appeal to the wider community to join us in our endeavour to rebuild not only our religious sites, but also to rebuild our lives, our hearts and our minds.


As religious leaders and representatives, we commit ourselves to the



·         To hold regular meetings between religious communities at the level of senior religious leaders, between the advisors in the Working Committee and at the municipal level;

·         To intensify inter-religious dialogue and cooperation;

·         To call upon all to contribute towards the betterment of life and prosperity in order to help facilitate the return process of all displaced persons;

·         To promote exchange between religious communities, such as:

o    visits to religious sites,

o    exchange of lectures between theological faculties,

o    as well as enabling the Seminary of St. Cyril and Methodius to resume its place in Prizren;

·         To invite the media to communicate our shared inter-ethnic and inter-religious values;

·         To facilitate communication and exchange of information between the religious communities: For instance, the compilation of a common address book;

·         To continue engaging as responsible religious leaders in the drafting process on the Law on Religion; and

·         To convene a seminar at the Nansen Academy in Lillehammer, Norway in order to strengthen the local religious leaders in their commitment to peace and           reconciliation.


In conclusion, we state that Kosovo is our common home and we commit ourselves to preserving it as a common inheritance for future generations.


The next conference will be hosted by the Islamic Community of Kosovo, in Pristina during the course of this present year 2006.


(The English text of this Common Statement was adopted as the official text of this Conference.)



Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Kosovo religious leaders issue joint appeal

On May 2nd there was an interfaith meeting held outside Peja, in the western part of Kosovo.  From the article below, it sounds as if it was constructive.  What’s interesting is that the evangelicals who were involved, who are two friends of mine, were invited as observers, not participants.  That’s not necessarily a negative, but it obviously communicates that Protestantism is not considered one of the “historic” faiths of Kosova.

PRISTINA, Serbia-Montenegro-Kosovo's Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders issued a rare joint appeal to their communities Wednesday to join in rebuilding religious monuments and lives shattered by the province's ethnic conflict.

The appeal came at the end of a meeting organized by Norwegian Church Aid that brought together representatives of the Serb Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church and Kosovo's Islamic, Jewish and Evangelical communities.

On the other hand, I had a nice talk with Pastor Femi Sunday night.  You’ll recall that last week he took part in a debate at the local college.  In our conversation Sunday night he told me that a number of people he spoke with believe that Protestantism is the future of Kosova.  While that’s positive, you have to remember that the word “religion” has built in political and identity issues in the Balkans. 

Via Kosovo News and Views

Saturday, May 06, 2006

...for the very first time

For the last several months we  been planning for a series of evangelistic DSC03738events to be held in June.  We’re helping to host this in cooperation with the other evangelical church in town, “Open Doors.”  The events are sponsored by the Luis Palau Evangelistic Organization and involve inviting specific groups of people to evangelistic coffee events. 

Today we had our “practice” event at a local restaurant.  My only real job was to set up the sound system and be available to help out.  The speaker, an Irish guy name Christy Smith, did a great job presenting the gospel to a group of about fifty people.  Of the fifty, I think maybe seven were foreigners.  DSC03743

Folks came knowing what they were in for and were treated to coffee and dessert and a message from Christy.  He gave a very, very clear Gospel presentation where the message of hope, healing and new life was clearly told.  Christy has apparently experienced the Lord do a number of miracles DSC03742in his life, and wasn’t afraid to tell it like it is.  Afterwards, as people were finishing their dessert and coffee, Christy invited people to come for prayer if they wanted.  A number of folks did, including one of the restaurant waiters. 

This event will be duplicated six or seven times in June so we learned a lot from this event today, including how to work with the wait-staff,  how to deal with sound issues in this restaurant, etc.

A lot of people hear the Gospel today, many for the very first time.

Good stuff.


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Interview: Kosovo P.M. Ceku on Independence

Newsweek just published an article an interview with Kosovo Prime Minister Agim Ceku.  Most people I know seem hesitatingly positive about Ceku.  The hesitation comes from a long history of discontent with local politicians.  The positive attitude comes from the leadership he’s showing.  He’s making some pretty impressive initial progress, including making his first address to the parliament in the Serbian language.  Check out the article here.

via KosovoReport


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Debate on "religion in school"

Last week we were barely treading water with all the good things God was doing when we got an invitation to participate in a debate on religion in the schools.  The debate was to be held at the University building across the street.  I called Pastor Femi, who just earned his doctorate, to represent us on behalf of the protestant community.  When we arrived the room had barely begun to fill up. 


By the time the debate started, it was only about half full.  It didn’t take long, however for the room to become jam packed.  Femi did a great job describing the issues surrounding state-supported Islamic education in the school system.  In fact, one of the audience, a university professor, said, “aren’t we really talking about Islamic education in the schools, not religions education?”  I thought that was pretty insightful.

The bulk of the panel, which included many professors, a representative from the Islamic Community seemed against religious education in the schools.  Some of those present had actually written the curriculum used in the school system.  It already includes material on comparative religions and most thought that was enough.

As usual, Femi did a great job presenting an evangelical viewpoints on these issues.

On a funny side note, when I walked into the room I was met by a young lady who said, “oh, është babai i Madisonit!!!”  In other words, Oh, it’s Madison’s dad!  She was a student teacher in my daughter’s first grade class.  I thought it was just classic that my daughter is better known in town than her dad.