I pray this letter finds you well. My apologies for not been very faithful in keeping in touch, so if some of you feel like they lost track with our ministry – it is only my fault.
The biggest news I would like to share with you is that our ministry has become or is about to become national. This means that we have finally started living our dreams and that is to bring the Gospel to all the Roma and Ashkali/Egyptian communities in Montenegro. This is something that has been on our hearts for a long time, but only recently (January 2 – 16th) we dared to try to make our dream reality.
The idea for this undertake came up as we started to make plans for this year’s “shoeboxes outreach”. Many of the churches in Montenegro have been partnering with the Samaritan’s Purse (OCC project) for many years and our church is no exception to that. This year though, as we were trying to search for God’s will for this activity, a thought came to our minds that we need to seize the moment and take things to a new, higher level – and the only level left for us was the one of country of Montenegro. I will say that this came in a very difficult moment. Many of us have just got out of difficult phase of discouragement or perhaps were still there. But, as always, in the moments when we are week, the Lord is strong!
Needless to say, at the beginning of this outreach, we have had little more than fire in our hearts and a lot of good will. The rest, whatever that was needed, God has provided along the way, always right on time, showing to all of us involved that He is in control and is rejoicing over the work we’ve been doing. It was a great reminder that God takes pleasure in our faithfulness and an encouragement to dream and act big. We simply have to, if you will, deliberately create opportunities for God to be glorified.
Request: there are still 3 other communities that we want to go to, two of them that have never experienced any Christian witnessing and we earnestly hope we will be able to go there. Nevertheless, we have reached our very limit when it comes to funding available for this purpose and having in mind that two of them are 2.5 – 3.5 hours driving from Podgorica, we have to make sure we had the very minimum available before we had on. Our calculation is that if we want to do this right, we have to have around $1,000 at our hand.
We would highly appreciate if you could help us reach this sum. It would make a great deal to our church and to the communities in Lovanja (Tivat/Kotor landfill), Bijelo Polje and Pljevlja (both in northern Montenegro). As always, you can donate through Centreville Baptist Church, Stoneworks International (https://www.stoneworksinternational.com/support/) or make a direct payment to us through TransferWise and other platforms (for more details please contact me directly).
BASHKIM’S MOTHER DEATH
I assume that many of you have already seen some of the latest posts related to death of Bashkim’s mother. For those of you who don’t know, Bashkim is one of our church leaders and in Roma-Ashkali/Egyptian community in Podgorica in general. His mother died at the age of 60, previously suffering from severe respiratory tract and heart problems. Regardless of that, these kind of things always come unexpected to the family of the deceased and it has been so in their case too.
In all of the turmoil and commotion that subsequently took place, it was great to witness the greater community coming around Bashkim and his family. Being the leader and highly respected in the community, Bashkim had a great opportunity to practice his faith in Christ helping many that were in different kind of need. Reaping what he had sown, he has had hundreds of people coming to express their condolences and comfort the grieving family (just like how it was 2.5 years ago when his father died). However, that’s where the catch is. According to local traditions, Bashkim and his family had to bear the costs of food and drinks for all the people. That had added to the total amount of costs that him, being the oldest son, had to bear for the funeral itself. And the costs of the funeral and all related things – such as hospitality – equal those of a wedding.
As I earlier mentioned in the Facebook post, it would speak very highly to Bashkim’s extended family and whole community if we could help him cover at least part of the costs. According to what I indirectly found out (he was too embarrassed to share this info with me), the costs were almost $2,500. In Roma-Ashkali/Egyptian culture, funeral, just like the wedding, is a family matter. Family is expected to help in both cases. While I am sure Bashkim will be receiving help from his relatives, it would be a wonderful expression of love and genuine case if our church could help him generously (I am hoping we can raise $500). Please consider giving for this matter. Again, you can either go through Centreville Baptist or Stoneworks (link is posted above).
We are in the need of 3 laptop computers, 2 of which we would like to donate to our new local partners, local RAE non-profits in Berane and Budva. In a case you can help us with this, that would be just amazing!
If you were able to get to the end of this email and read it all the way through, I admire your patience and you are probably much better in these things than I am 🙂 Anyways, I will not push my luck any further and will say goodbye to you all! May His peace overcome any unrest of your soul and may you be blessed in all things!
In His service,