in this issue 01 June 1999, Vol. 3 No. 3
- People Profile
- Agency Profile
- Resource Reviews
- News and Needs
God is Working Through the Kosovo CrisisThe Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing. (John 5:19)
by Bruce Sidebotham
Who sinned, the Kosovar refugees or their ancestors, that one million of them are displaced today? If these refugees were suffering on account of some national, ancestral, or even original sin, then we Americans should be similarly distressed.
Jesus said about the tragedy of a blind man, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." We might expect the combination of Clinton and Milosevic to produce one of the century's greatest tragedies, but who would expect the clash between these two arrogant leaders to be part of God's displaying his redemptive might?
Prior to the decline of communism in Europe, Albania was the only self-professed atheistic state to have existed in world history. All religions were brutally suppressed. Ten years ago there were no churches and only six known evangelical Christians. Today, Albania hosts 154 congregations and 7,500 believers. Though still less than one quarter percent of the population, that represents an annual growth rate of 100 percent!
Yet Albanians in Kosovo are arguably the most unevangelized people in all of Europe. Their only knowledge of Christianity comes from hearing stories about the Crusades and their experience of Orthodox Serbs. When the NATO bombing began, there were only a few hundred Kosovar evangelicals in a handful churches.
Now thousands of refugees from Kosovo are learning the difference between genuine faith and the cultural kind. World Relief president, Clive Calver, visited relief efforts and asked some refugees about their treatment by Christian Serbs. He reports, "One young man got very strong with me. He said, 'That's not Christianity. . . Christianity is what is happening here. These people love and care for us. This is Christianity.'"
Few classes of people are more desperate than refugees. Albanians from Kosovo are more exposed to the gospel today than ever before. Even the Albanian government has been stunned by what Albanian churches have been able to do. But Albania is a poor country, and the Christians there need our material help.
About the blind man, Jesus told his disciples, "As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world." (Jn 9:4-5)
Jesus also said that we are the light of the world. The prophet Isaiah wrote that our light would break forth like the dawn when we share our food with the hungry, provide shelter for the wanderer and clothe the naked. (Is 58:6-8)
As the redemptive power of God was put on display in the life of a man born blind, so it is on display in Albania through the work of Albanian Christians and relief agencies. It can be displayed through us as well as we support their work with prayer and giving.
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Greater Europe Mission Deals With Complexity in EuropeGlobal exposure during World War II spawned dozens of new mission agencies and resulted in thousands of missionaries from the builder generation. Greater Europe Mission (G.E.M.) is one of those agencies. Its founder, Bob Evans, was a Navy chaplain.
Bob's exposure to the spiritual needs in Europe began when he drove over a landmine. Recovering in a French hospital opened his eyes to the barren spiritual landscape of Europe.
In 1949 he returned to start the European Bible Institute in Paris. Two years later he broadened the work into Greater Europe Mission in order to start evangelical training centers all across Europe.
Thirty interdenominational evangelical Bible schools and seminaries, all under the supervision of local evangelical leaders, exist because of this sailor's landmine encounter.
Greater Europe Mission continues today with the purpose of assisting the peoples of Europe in building up the Body of Christ so that every person in Europe is within reach of a witnessing fellowship.
Europe is strategic to world evangelization. It is the world's largest economic bloc with rapidly growing political influence. Many European countries are less than one percent evangelical Christian. Ironically, highly civilized Europe is haunted by the fact of and potential for monstrous atrocities.
Greater Europe Mission is strategically prepared and positioned to impact Europe. Its 400 missionaries in 27 European countries share Christ, start churches, teach theology, conduct youth and camp ministries, conduct women's ministries, do relief work, distribute literature, do counseling and a whole lot more.
GEM understands the complexities of Europe. It placed missionaries on both sides during the cold war. It is ministering on both sides of the conflict in the Balkans today.
Pray for Greater Europe Mission and consider how you may support or partner with them for the love of Christ for Europe.
For information contact. . .
18950 Base Camp Rd.
Monument, CO 80132
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Volunteers Are Needed to Help Relief Agencies Working in the BalkansRelief and ministry agencies are searching for volunteers in a wide variety of professions to assist with refugee assistance operations in the Balkans.
Engineering Ministries International can use sanitation engineers, civil engineers, electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, surveyors and architects in some of their partnerships.
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and others are looking for professionals in nursing, medicine, psychology, finance, logistics, and administration.
Volunteers must be experienced and must be able to handle highly stressful and primitive combat-like situations.
Some of you have accrued leave that you need to use up. For others of you Permissive Temporary Duty (PTDY) may be an option.
The Army regulation governing passes and leaves stipulates, "A nonchargeable absence from duty may be granted at no expense to the Government to perform a semi-official activity that benefits the Service and the soldier." (AR 600-8-10)
Obtaining requisite approval from a major commander or general court-martial authority for PTDY could significantly add to the challenge and profile of the experience.
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Kosovars Present Outreach Opportunity Here in America
Twenty thousand traumatized Kosovars have begun landing at Fort Dix for processing and eventual resettlement throughout the United States. Compassionate help is greatly needed.
Volunteers are needed to provide friendship, housing, transportation, and English lessons. Churches are needed to sponsor family units and coordinate local volunteers and donations.
World Relief is the arm of the National Association of Evangelicals that is coordinating many ministry elements in this massive resettlement effort.
To participate in this phenomenal outreach opportunity for your family, fellowship, or church contact Brian Burt or Barbara Cocchi at World Relief's office in Atlanta.
World Relief, Atlanta OfficeBack to Top
964 N. Indian Creek Dr. Ste. A-1
Clarkston, GA 30021
phone: 1-(404) 294-4352
fax: 1-(404) 294-6011
e-mail: 103021.1505 @compuserve.com
Kuwaiti Official Tells His Gripping Story of ConversionApostate Son is the story, in first person, of Robert Hussein, a Kuwaiti Muslim who became a Christian. His ordeal was big international news for quite some time. The exposure probably saved his life, because of both the prayers and publicity. His book is well-written and quite readable. This book is valuable, firstly, as an exposť of Gulf Arab government and society, and, secondly, as a case study in Muslim conversion.
Westerners have difficulty understanding how Muslims think and act in their own world. Robert Hussein outlines clearly the mechanisms binding people and restricting spiritual change in Kuwait. He explains people's various motives in a way that makes sense.
Hussein's description of the Kuwaiti government can probably be generalized to most of the Muslim world. He shows how democracy is a sham and how corruption and human rights abuses perpetuate the power of the elite, in this case the Amir and his associates.
As a case study of one Muslim who became a Christian, this book illustrates the typical elements; the initial secrecy, the internal struggle, the explosive uncovering of his secret, and then the ordeal of police pressure, family pressure, and social pressure.
Hussein's family of birth did not disown him, and they responded more moderately than is common (except for his wife). On the other hand, he faced more extreme opposition from the government, including a strong threat of execution. Though less probable in some locations and in some social classes, it is not unusual for converts from Islam anywhere to wind up mysteriously dead, like Hussein's friend whose body was found in the sand. The book is suspenseful up through Hussein's escape from the country.
This book is especially discomforting, because there is a lot of ambiguity, and there are no real heroes. Most of the Muslims are villains, but some behave with grace and courage. Many of the Christians who should be heroes are shown behaving in self-promoting and exploitative ways.
Hussein himself wins our admiration for his guts and faithfulness, but he and his friends sometimes seem immature or badly mistaken. Hussein does not gloss over these extremely typical problems. Converts from Islam, with all of their theological and personal baggage, often have many shortcomings as do many Christians working with them.
For people who can let Christ work in real life without needing all the loose ends tied up neatly, this is a great book! We strongly recommend it for anyone stationed in the Muslim world, or trying to make sense out of past experiences there.
You may obtain the book from . . .
Najiba Publishing Company
P.O. Box 60142
Colorado Springs, CO 80960
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Operation Reveille Provides Spiritual Intelligence on the Kosovo CrisisThe Kosovo Crisis Intelligence folder is available in a hard copy or digital format from Operation Reveille.
The digital version is on a 3.5 inch floppy disk and may be viewed with any web browser like Netscape or Internet Explorer.
The folder includes summaries and news stories on how God is working in the midst of the Kosovo Crisis as well as brief descriptions of the work of Chrisian missions agencies involved.
One retired chaplain exaggerated, "I would have killed to have had something like this when I was in Vietnam."
Order your free copy from Operation Reveille or make a donation to help with this ministry.
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Bridging Operations Are Important on the Refugee Highway
news and needs
by Lynn Sidebotham.
Refugees. Bound up in that one word are all the ways of serving which Christ said were service to Him. They might as well be Christ. And wherever they come from, Kosovo or the Muslim countries, and whatever their religion, Muslim, Armenian Orthodox, or Assyrian Catholic, they are searching the indifferent and hostile face of the world for the face of Christ.
Paul and Reinhild Sydnor, of International Teams, serve the refugees in Europe. For seven years, they worked directly in the camps. Larger groups like the Catholic Caritas are well equipped to meet physical needs such as housing, but the displaced and lonely are also starving for relational contact.
Besides working with refugees personally, they acted as facilitators; for instance, helping local Austrian Christians from different denominational backgrounds start a Bible study for Persian refugees.
More recently, Paul has been made the team leader in Innsbruck. The Sydnors have moved there to begin a different phase in their ministry.
Although I.T. has teams positioned along the refugee highway, in places such as Athens, Vienna, and Bad Kreuzen, and is expanding into other cities, part of Paul's vision is to develop the caring outreach of local churches in Austria to refugees and immigrants.
Web site review As an American-German couple, Paul and Reinhild are particularly qualified for this kind of cross-cultural encouragement.
Since they have just moved to Innsbruck, they and their team observe and serve in a number of small churches of different backgrounds wherever they are needed.
Their long term goal is to partner with churches in "bridging operations." Innsbruck will be a model on a small scale for what I.T. hopes will happen with the European church. This could have a huge impact on countries which have trouble assimilating immigrants.
In the near future, Paul hopes to take some teams of Austrian and German Christians on a short term trip down to Albania, to take funds, give the Albanian Christians some relief, and build awareness among the Austrians and Germans.
- Pray that God will do a new work in the European churches, since groups of fervent believers are small, and this is not traditionally a part of the world that has warm inter-racial relationships.
- Pray that churches will both catch the vision and be willing to work together.
- Pray for Paul and Reinhild to communicate effectively, and for their family.
- Pray for the refugees and for those who are willing to walk with them on their highway.
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Albanian Bible Students Take Off to Help RefugeesFour years ago, Greater Europe Mission helped found Albania's first ever evangelical training institution to train leaders for churches that did not even exist ten years ago.
news and needs
The Albanian Bible Institute in the coastal town of Dures had just begun a new semester when refugees started streaming across the border.
"We were teaching a course on the theology of the church," the director says, "but how could we teach a course on such a subject when all around the school there was such a need for the church to help the people?"
So classes have been suspended indefinitely. Students have been sent off to help in their home churches, and institute staff have set up a refugee station in a vacant warehouse.
One participant says, "It is an amazing opportunity for us to minister to these hurting people. They are mystified that the Christians would be so kind to them. Their experience of Christianity has been of the nationalistic variety that views them as the 'enemy.'"
This unanticipated and therefore unfunded work of faith costs the Albanian Bible Institute $1000 a day.
The institute is counting on generous contributions through Greater Europe Mission designated for the Balkan Relief Fund to sustain itself and its work.
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Kosovo Crisis Affects Missionaries in Other Parts of EuropeLife has changed for many missionaries who come from NATO countries as a result of the crisis in Kosovo.
news and needs
Many ministries in Russia, Romania, and Belarus, for example, are facing uncertain futures.
Some missionaries in these countries report that most East Europeans cannot understand why one country would attack another without wanting to possess the land of that country.
East Europeans were already suspicious of Western ambitions and missionaries when Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic joined NATO. Events in the Balkans further exacerbate these suspicions.
Since Clinton is a Baptist, many are perceiving this as a religious fight against the Orthodox picked by the Protestants.
Evangelical Christians in Orthodox areas are having to make difficult choices concerning how they are going to associate with their Western friends and colleagues in ministry.
- Pray for the Protestant Christians and ministries in lands dominated by the Eastern Orthodox church.
- Pray that they will have safety, integrity, and wisdom.
- Pray that the gospel of Jesus Christ will advance in spite of misunderstanding.
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When It Hits the Fan, Ministry HappensInternational Teams
news and needs
Believing that God's primary means of reaching the world is through local churches, International Teams (IT) is working to establish new churches and strengthen existing ones.
In Albania, IT missionaries work with other evangelical groups to multiply effectiveness and avoid duplication. They are focusing on the mostly rural, south-central mountainous district of Skrapar which is one of Albania's poorest districts.
The team in Albania strives for a holistic integrated ministry through evangelism and discipleship. They are seeking to plant churches in 100 villages throughout Skrapar so that people throughout the district will be within easy reach of the gospel.
International Bible Society
Convinced that people suffering loss need spiritual input and guidance just as seriously as they need physical assistance, International Bible Society (IBS) is producing and distributing their booklet, When Your Whole World Changes, in the Albanian language.
The evangelistically oriented booklet, which is grounded in Scripture, helps people cope with disaster, loss, and trauma. Relief agencies are successfully using the booklet in Albania. All 20,000 copies of the first edition have been used up.
Campus Crusade for Christ
Over 250 Campus Crusade for Christ staff members are working in the refugee camps in Albania, meeting physical needs in the love of Christ. Many on the relief teams speak both English and Albanian. They are doing the gritty work of food preparation, sanitation, and so on. They and others also plan to show the "JESUS" film to as many refugees as possible.
Medical Ambassadors International
Community Health Evangelism (CHE) is the strategy which Medical Ambassadors International is implementing.
This strategy uses national workers who speak the same language and are from the same culture. It seeks to heal the whole person, both physically and spiritually, and avoid welfare-like dependency.
Words of Hope (WOH) produces the Albanian language radio programs broadcast by TransWorld Radio (TWR).
In addition to their normal Albanian language programs broadcast from Monte Carlo, Words of Hope is producing fifteen minute daily segments designed to help broken up families get reunited by letting refugees anounce their whereabouts so that relatives can find them.
A WOH employee records the programs in the refugee camps, edits them on a laptop computer, and then sends them electronically to TWR for broadcast. The programs feature interviews with refugees about their experiences and highlight the activities of Albanian Christians ministering to them. One goal is to demonstrate the hope and love of Jesus to the refugees.
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Evangelical Christians Are Driven Out of KosovoCompass Direct reports that nearly all evangelical Christians in Kosovo have fled.
news and needs
Roughly one third of the believers are missing. The handful who remain in the capital, Pristina, must be on the move constantly.
None of the 25 evangelicals known to have lived in Kosovo's second largest city, Prizen, have been heard from.
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Slave Raiders Enriched and Emboldened in SudanChristian Freedom International announced it will stop redeeming Slaves in Sudan.
news and needs
CFI's president, Jim Jacobsen, reports, "What started as an act of mercy has turned into a debacle. . . . Selling slaves in Sudan is now more profitable than narcotics."
When organizations began redeeming slaves in the early 1990's the numbers were few. Today, thousands are being redeemed at a time with the money financing more guns and more raids on black villages.
CFI will focus more on interdiction, helping villagers to defend themselves against raiders, and supporting the "underground railroad" to freedom.
CFI also raises the plight in Sudan to the U.S. Congress and White House.
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Relief Agency Nurse Reports Appalling ConditionsMedical Ambassadors International has a nurse working among Kosovar refugees. Her e-mails describe the following. . .
news and needs
a report from Medical Ambassadors International
"One boy, about fifteen, I found sitting crying in a corner, shaking uncontrollably, filthy dirty, eyes dilated, and constantly drooling. He refused to speak and seemed to be in shock.
"Women are cradling each other . . . others stare into space, in shock . . . One young lady, about 28, six months pregnant and curled up in the fetal position, had seen her husband's throat slashed before her own eyes. Her sister-in-law huddles close to her crying out, 'Oh Zot, Oh Zot' (Oh God, Oh God).
"Vomiting and diarrhea are more the norm than the exception. Lice are getting out of control. Dehydration is becoming a problem. Dysentery and upper respiratory infections are everywhere. The sanitation is atrocious.
"The toilets -- literally holes in the ground -- are stopped up and overflowing. Sewers are backing up into sinks and mothers are washing their babies and clothes in contaminated water. Many people do not have shoes and are walking into the bathrooms, with up to a half inch of human waste on the floor and then stepping from blanket to blanket where people are eating, sleeping and living. God have mercy."
Many are saying, "Not since the Jewish Holocaust and the infamous 'Killing Fields' of Cambodia has there been such a human catastrophe." Others tell horrendous tales of torture, systematic rape, and mass murder. They tell of forced marches to the border supervised by Serb soldiers on trucks killing those who can not keep up.
Medical Ambassadors International is one of many organizations addressing the physical and spiritual needs of the refugees. They report that without the Christians the larger government agencies would not be effective. It is the Christians who are willing to do the menial and objectionable tasks and who are listening and caring. One ten year old boy said to a Campus Crusade for Christ student worker, "I believe in your God. He is real. Where are the Muslim countries?"
Read this special Kosovo Crisis issue carefully. Pray for the situation in Kosovo, and consider what God is calling you to do.
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The Reveille Shofar
Volume 3, Number 3 - O1 June 1999
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