BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP)–The war in Kosovo made headlines in newspapers and on the evening news for months during 1999. It was another expression of civil unrest and ethnic fighting that had plagued the former Yugoslavia since the death of Tito and the fall of communism.
Soon after the cease-fire I led a team of nurses to Bosnia. Due to the persistent instability of the region, we were not allowed to travel outside the Bosnian borders. As we conducted medical clinics with refugees, however, we met many people of Kosovo and heard their stories of abuse and death of loved ones in the midst of war. Our hearts were broken over their pain and loss just as we hurt for the Bosnian people who also suffered. We never had the chance to visit Kosovo, but we identified with its people. Returning home, we prayed with a new sense of awareness that resulted from firsthand experience with the needs we had encountered.
This summer, three years since my introduction to the plight of people in the Balkans, my sense of awareness and prayer commitment for the people of Kosovo was renewed. I was finally able to visit their country and see the rebuilding efforts of these determined people. In addition, I met the courageous missionaries who have committed themselves to work alongside them.
Donna Robinson and Dan Whitfield, two International Service Corps missionaries who had served in Bosnia in 1999, were now in Kosovo leading the International Mission Board team. After a brief time at home when her term was completed, Donna shared her sense of call to return to the region. Dan wasn’t far behind after serving as a missions minister for a time in his home state. Sitting at a table in a restaurant in the capital city of Pristina, I looked around at the faces of energetic college students who had come to help. Baseball camps, English as a second language, and friendship-building were the focus of their summer ministry.
Later that evening, I enjoyed fellowship with a young female journeyman whose mother works with Women on Mission through Texas WMU. Kelly uses ESL as an entry point into the lives of university students. Seated next to me was a career dentist and his wife who had transferred from Dominica. Melody shared how God had spoken to her 26 years ago while she was a Baptist Young Women member reading an article in Contempo magazine. What a diverse group of individuals uniting their calling and their gifts so that the people of Kosovo can hear the gospel.
God is at work around the world. Missionaries are serving in difficult places making a difference for the name of Jesus. This December the faces of the people of Kosovo as well as the faces of the missionaries will be fresh before me. My praying will be personal and specific.
Who do you know serving in international missions? Remember that they need your specific prayers as well as your gifts so a world in need can meet the one true source of hope and peace — Jesus Christ.
Lee is executive director/treasurer of Woman’s Missionary Union .