Kosovo Turns 10: What Does It All Mean?
Today’s post is written by Ron, a CAMA worker in Kosovo.
My wife Lisa and I, along with several other colleagues, were fortunate to have witnessed history in the making 10 years ago.
Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi, standing before Kosovo parliament on February 17, 2008, read the announcement of their declaration of independence. The crowd that was steadily growing in the city center of Gjilan, where we live and do ministry, spontaneously erupted with cheering and celebration.
Old men danced together in the streets. Strangers became instant friends. Young and old waved flags.
Fifteen minutes after the official announcement was made, the first baby was born in independent Kosovo. She was named Pavaresia, meaning “independence.”
Now ten years on, what does it all mean?
A day after celebrating the 10th anniversary, I asked my friend and attendant at the gas station a similar question.
“For the common people nothing has really changed,” he said. “I started this job the first year of our independence making 250 euros ($300) per month, and 10 years later I am still making the same amount each month.”
My friend who is a third-generation cattle farmer agreed. He said to me, “For us, nothing has changed. The politicians have gotten wealthier and regular people are still poor.”
For many people, like my friends struggling to live on meager wages, things haven’t improved much. Yes, you’ll see some change. There are new roads, improved services with some government institutions, more and better consumer products available, and 100,000 plus new apartments.
What hasn’t changed much is unemployment. Unemployment runs at around 30 percent, rising to over 50 percent among young people who represent the majority of the population. Those that have the opportunity to graduate university are often unable to find jobs based on their skills and abilities.
The church of Jesus Christ has a lot of work to do here too. Kosovo is a country where you will find few followers of Jesus beyond the first generation. Ten years on, there is still much fear and resistance to the gospel.
Recently, a friend who is planting a church near Gjilan mentioned that in five years only one family has been regularly coming to church. He reminded us that it all takes time, referring to the building of trust and sharing the gospel message.
In the same way, raising strong disciples for Him takes time. We continue in the work to disciple and support local Christians in seeing them lead others to share the gospel with family and friends. We’re encouraged by Fatos, a local Kosovar bi-vocational pastor in Gjilan, who leads a weekly gathering of 6-10 Kosovar followers of Jesus.
The oft-repeated “pray, give, go” rings true in Kosovo. With 1.8 million people and less than one percent following Jesus, the harvest is indeed plentiful, and the laborers are in fact, very few.
We need workers for two openings in Kosovo:
Will you help us spread the word?
“Welcome To The Country With The Biggest Crush On America“. NPR. February 2018. Accessed February 26, 2018.