Why am I here:
Because I am crazy about God and want to share this with other people.
This week we’ve been studying in the Bible how Daniel believed God could do the impossible in his life. For the participants from Kosovo, believing God for the impossible was part of coming to Mission-Net this year.
“Kosovo is the only country [in Europe] right now that cannot travel outside of its borders [without a visa],” explains Artur, a Kosovar pastor and the Mission-Net National Motivator for Kosovo, “and that makes life very complicated.”
Kosovo, a country of about two million, is Europe’s newest nation at just three years old. The travel laws and accompanying difficulties made planning for Mission-Net an act of faith for Artur and his group of 20.
They had tried to attend Mission-Net two years ago but were refused visas. When they planned to come this year, many rejected the idea, saying they wouldn’t be granted visas again. But Artur and a few others stepped out in faith and applied.
After sending in a mountain of paperwork with their applications, the group found out two weeks later that most had been given visas—a few, though, had been refused. Two of these people went back to the embassy to appeal and were granted visas the second time around.
“It was a big stirring of their faith,” remembers Artur. “Will they get the visas? Will it work? They really felt like: Wow, it is possible. God made it possible for us.”
But obtaining the visas was only the beginning. The group travelled by bus for 34 hours through Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria before they finally arrived in Erfurt, Germany.
“I think every one of them is excited that they could come here,” smiles Artur, and he’s sure that the movement of Mission-Net will touch their lives and the lives of those back home. “They all come from Muslim families,” adds Autur. “I believe it will really bless their families as well.”
Kosovo has the largest percentage of Muslims in Europe, with 98% practicing Islam. Though the country experiences strong influence from Islamic countries, the small Kosovar Church is growing, especially amongst the younger generation, says Artur.
“I strongly believe with all my heart that there is a great future for the church in Kosovo. I’m really encouraged—not by the fact that young people will do something in the future, but because I believe they’re already doing it.”
Before the war in the late 1990s, there were only six churches in the country; now there are 22, he confirms.
But opposition to living a Christian life in Kosovo is often intense and the price of faith is high. One girl who had received a visa to attend Mission-Net was not allowed by her parents to come.
“When somebody becomes a Christian, the family will say they shouldn’t be Christian,” says Artur. “We have cases when they beat them or kick them out of the house. But when [the families] see they don’t give up, they love them even more, and many times even the family comes to church.”
Artur meets many Kosovar families that acknowledge their Christian ancestry, before the rule of the Ottoman Empire; however, they also concede that they are now Muslim and can’t change today’s reality. But he sees a glimmer of hope when they say that their children might be able to bring about change. “They leave an open door, that the young generation should be different.”
“It’s our desire as a Church in Kosovo to see restoration happening in our nation,” he continues. “And we want to challenge every young person in Kosovo and outside to live for Christ in this time.”
He encourages his young people, and all young Christians across Europe, to hold tightly to their faith. “We probably agree for all Europe, it’s time to see a new generation raised up for Christ in this continent. We are calling for people who are willing to live and pay the price for being Christian. I think that’s something the world needs to see once again from Christianity—that we are ready to live for the faith that we speak and share.”