Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pray for (FYROM) Macedonia

Listed 8-31-10

While seeking out information on present conditions in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, I received the following letter from a very knowledgeable Christian worker in Macedonia. Marshall Rich’s letter can help guide our prayers for Macedonia.

Here is some general information.
Macedonia is primarily Orthodox Christian and the majority view protestant Christianity as a sect. This sometimes (or oftentimes) results in born-again followers of Christ to be persecuted by neighbors and even family members. Persecution is not physical, but often psychological persecution in the form of name-calling, rejection, and talking behind one's back can be equally devastating.

2/3 of the population is Macedonian and that translates to nearly 2/3 Orthodox Christian. 30% are Albanian which are nearly all strict muslims. There is also a large Roma Gypsy population which is primarily muslim but with fortune-telling/magic arts/superstition intermixed with their faith.

There seems to be a religious rivalry between Orthodox Christianity and Islam. They compete for bigger religious structures in prime areas and even after the war in Kosovo in 2001 some churches/mosques were destroyed by fanatics/patriots. There are cities/villages which are exclusively Albanian and others exclusively Macedonian. Tensions exist. Some cities are mixed but with separate areas of business/residence.

In this region ethnicity is tied to faith. It is expected if you are ____ then you are _____. If you are Macedonian then you are Orthodox. It is not as much as a personal endeavor as it is heritage.

The true Church is Christ is alive and present although numbers are small. Zero churches exist among the Albanians, although some Albanians attend evangelical churches of primarily Macedonian composition. There are several strong established churches among the Roma gypsies. I enjoy attending services there and appreciate strong adherence to the Bible and sound preaching. The gypsies are more open to listening to Christ but are also open to other doctrines such as the Jehovah's Witness church growing among the Roma.

A prior Macedonian President was a Methodist which had a profound effect on acceptance of protestant faiths, especially after his tragic death in a plane crash. Baptist missionaries are active in several cities. Primarily the churches are overseen by Macedonian elders, many of whom have degrees in theology. Sound doctrine. Good leadership. Excellent Biblical preaching.

Problems in the church are lack of finances. Macedonian has high unemployment and most churches are funded from foreign countries. Tithes are insufficient. Largest denomination is called Evangelical, holding doctrine like Alliance churches or somewhat like Assemblies of God. They have the most churches established and have dedicated pastors.

-Praise points: domestic leadership of the churches, nationals are pastoring, ministering
-prayer points: Albanians to come to Christ, to overcome cultural and ethnic barriers, for the church to be support itself, for Christians to work hard and be employed, for fearless testimony of Christ in the face of rejection,

Hope this helps,
Salutation in Christ,
Marshall Rich, - Read More at http://macedoniamissions.com/

1) With the Macedonians mainly being Orthodox and regarding Evangelicals as a sect, then let us pray that the Evangelicals would, with love and acts of righteousness, earn the right to speak into the culture.
2) We thank the Lord for the former president that was a Methodist and how the Lord used his death to soften hearts toward the Protestants. Let us pray for more events within the culture that can change attitudes and reveal the true motivation of Jesus and His church.
3) Let us pray for the present President, Gjorge Ivanov. May the Lord surround him with wise counselors.
4) Lord, we ask that You strengthen Your saints in their days of persecution. James 1:2-4 “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
5) Let us pray for peaceful co-existence between the ethnic Macedonians and the Albanians. May they learn how to respect one another.
6) Let us pray for the Albanian population, especially since they are mainly Muslim. Lord, protect those few Albanians that have become Christians and give them open doors to testify of Your great joy and salvation.
7) Let us pray for directed evangelism and/or acts of kindness toward the Albanian population; even involvement from foreign Christians. Raise up intercessors, senders (givers) and goers.
8) Lord, we ask that the Churches be strengthened and be a safe place for people to receive healing and enjoy their salvation.
9) The report is that many pastors and church leaders are on a solid foundation. Lord, may You continue to bless Macedonia. Lord, we ask for an economic blessing also. May barriers to productivity be reduced so prosperity can flow into the country.
10) May the Christians be blessed with wisdom to influence the culture spiritually and economically. Lord, raise up godly gatekeepers and give them wisdom and resources to bring wealth into the cities so poverty can be reduced.

More News of Macedonia at http://freebalkans.com/Macedonia.html

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