Our MP missionary in Kosovo, Jen Mellor, returns home to the United States this month. Pastor Urim and new national missionary Bylbyl Bytyqi will continue the ministry to needy families. We are excited to welcome Bylbyl (Byli) and his new wife Antonela (Nela) to work with us. They are expecting their first child later this year!
Pastor Urim and his wife Teuta welcomed their first child, a son named Joel, into the world six months ago. They are committed to sharing Christ’s love in Kosovo and they ask for our prayers for their family, for the young church, and for the spiritual warfare they face each day in this Muslim country. Byli and Nela have joined the church ministry team and Mercy Projects. They desire to plant a church one day as well.
Approximately 2 million predominantly Muslim Albanians live in Kosovo. The Protestant evangelical church is very small but is steadily growing. Albanian Protestant gatherings exist in all the major cities and religious rights are guaranteed in the country’s constitution. Albanians believe that one should not change their religion. Believe as you like, but to change your religion brings shame on your family. Muslims that accept Christ will bring shame on their families and face persecution.
Kosovo was a self-governing province of Yugoslavia that enjoyed significant autonomy before Slobodan Milosevic came to power in 1987. The autonomy was removed and Kosovo was made a province under the direct rule of Serbia. Even though the majority population was Albanian, the Serbian government forced its language, culture, and corrupt police force on the region. In 1998-1999, volunteer Kosovar militia started an organized resistance to the Serbians. More than 800,000 Albanians were driven out of their homes in an ethnic-cleansing campaign by Serbia. NATO subsequently authorized air strikes, and by July 1999 the Serbian military retreated.
Give To the General Ministry in Kosovo
1. Ottoman Empire forced Albanians to convert.
The Turks forced the Catholic or “Christian” Albanians to convert to Islam during the 500 years of the Ottoman Empire. World War 1 ended the rule of the Turks.
2. President Woodrow Wilson insisted on Albania’s statehood at the end of World War 1. Serbia kept Kosovo.
3. “The religion of Albanian is Albanianism,” their famous poet said; the nation comes first. Unlike other Muslim countries, Albania tolerates other religions.
4. Skanderbeg – A courageous military leader and hero who rebelled against the Turks. His statue stands in central Tirana, Albania, across from the mosque.
5. Bill Clinton Boulevard in Pristina is named after the US president who initiated the 78-day NATO air war against Serbia.
6. Kosovars may be Muslim, but they love America. Sometimes it appears they love America as much as Americans do. Thousands of people lined the streets to donate blood for Americans after 9/11.
7. Some believe that “Islam is a cleaner religion.”
Islam is a religion of rules and many have to do with cleanliness. Muslims must wash in a certain way every time they pray or touch the Koran. They remove their shoes before setting foot in their homes. No dogs or pets are allowed indoors as they are considered dirty. Do not eat pork as pigs are considered dirty. Etc.
8. Your caffeine and your religion. The Roman Catholics (Italy) drink Espresso. The Albanians drink Turkish coffee. The Serbian or Eastern Orthodox drink tea. The Balkans is where the world’s major religions meet for coffee. (Not really, but it seems like it historically….)
Prayer and Support Needs
Pastor Urim and the church are praying for a permanent church home. They have started a small thrift store in Malisheve and they conduct English classes. They are also praying for a church van to use for visits to the 45 villages in the Malisheve region.
Pastor Urim, Bylbyl, and needy families are all available for sponsorship here on our website. Go to Pastor’s pages. Go to Families available for sponsorship. One-time gifts for special needs like the church van are also greatly appreciated. It is your prayers and support that make it possible for these young families to serve in Kosovo. Thank you!