Saturday, September 09, 2017

Pray for Albania

Ponzi Scheme in Albania, 1991 - 1997

The pyramid schemes started operations in 1991. Their activity was based on making payments to old investors using money contributed by new investors. The first scheme was that of Hajdin Sejdisë, who later fled to Switzerland with several million dollars. It was followed by "Sudja" of shoe factory worker Maksude Kadëna in 1993, then the "Populli" foundations run by an opposition politician, and "Xhaferri". By the end of 1996 the schemes peaked. The interest rates they offered were very tempting; Sudja offered 100% interest. The schemes were not criticized immediately because of bad banking laws. Despite IMF advice to close these schemes, the government continued to allow their activities, often participating in them. Between 8–16 January 1997 the schemes collapsed. On 22 January the government froze the Xhaferri and Populli firms. "Gjallica", another firm, was nearly bankrupt, while "Vefa", which had invested in Albanian hotels, fuel and factories, continued normal activity. The economic crisis was the worst in Albanian history.

The number of investors who had been lured by the promise of getting rich quick grew to include two-thirds of the population. It is estimated that close to $1.5 billion was invested in companies offering monthly interest rates ranging from 10%-25%, while the average monthly income was around $80. People sold their homes to invest. Immigrants working in Greece and Italy transferred additional resources to the schemes. When the realization that most of the money was lost, the people begin to protest, forming rebel gangs that took to the streets. Many government buildings were attacked, looted and burned. Chaos was everywhere, especially in the south. The ruling party was blamed and the rebel groups demanded their removal. The army ammunition depots were raided by rebel gangs and even the army ended up giving out guns to citizens so they could defend themselves. Although the government quelled revolts in the north, the ability of the government and military to maintain order began to collapse, especially in the southern half of Albania, which fell under the control of rebels and criminal gangs. Prominent organized-crime figures escaped from prison and put together gangs, effectively taking control of many areas. Gangs looted banks, took hostages and grabbed businesses. The chaos was complete and the whole country (except for the capital, Tirana) was completely paralyzed. The rebellion started in January of 1997 and did not end until August of the same year.

Damage from the rebellion was estimated at 200 million dollars and some 3700 to 5000 wounded and 2000 dead. Lawsuits were filed against the bosses of the rogue firms. In elections in June and July 1997, Berisha and his party were voted out of power, and the left coalition headed by the Socialist Party won. The Socialist party elected Rexhep Meidani as President of the Albanian Republic. All UN forces left Albania by 11 August.
> Full details can be read at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albanian_Civil_War

Over the many decades of hardline communism, atheism reigned supreme and religious services were forbidden. This left the people spiritually empty with no moral base. This ponzi scheme was a symptom of misguided hope. There was no wisdom to govern as personal gain excelled through criminal minds. No fear of God.
It is good news now to report the Gospel is spreading across the Albania and changing the hearts of those that once had little or no hope. Many churches and mission organization are reporting many coming to faith.

Prayer Points:
1) God is so gracious. He will not abandon us forever. He loves the nations and He loves Albania. Pray that a humbled people will find full forgiveness in Jesus.
2) The hope we have in the resurrected Savior gives us strength and assurance. May the Gospel message continue to grow in the cities of Albania.
3) Lord, may the Holy Spirit go forth across the land preparing the people’s hearts to receive the Gospel. Lord, release an atmosphere of hope.
4) The Gospel will be preached to all men before the end comes. Lord, we ask for the doors to be fully open for the proclamation of the Gospel in Albania.  4) Matthew 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
5) Let us pray for an excitement to fill the hearts of the Albanian Christians. May they move in the power of the Holy Spirit and let Jesus shine through their lives.
6) May the churches in Albania be safe places for many to receive healing and abundance in this life.  John 10:10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Pray for the Balkans 8-25-17


An interesting Life

I was seeking the Lord as to what or how to pray for the Balkans. I was drawn to the city of Bor, Serbia and to a famous individual who suffered there during WW II.

Radnóti Miklós

Radnóti was born Miklós Glatter in Budapest into an assimilated Jewish family. His life was considerably shaped by the fact that both his mother and his twin brother died at his birth. He refers to this trauma in the title of his compilation Ikrek hava ("Month of the Twins").

In the early 1940s Radnóti was conscripted by the Hungarian Army, but being a Jew he was assigned to an unarmed (munkaszolgálat) ("labour battalion"). The battalion assigned to the Ukrainian front, and then in May 1944 the Hungarian Army retreated and his battalion was transferred to the copper mines in Bor, Serbia. In August 1944 as Yugoslav Partisans led by Josip Tito advanced, Radnóti's group of 3,200 Hungarian Jews was force-marched to central Hungary. On the march most of them died, including Radnóti.

In these last months of his life Radnóti continued to write poems in a small notebook and scraps of paper he kept with him. His last poem was dedicated to his friend Miklós Lorsi, who was shot to death during their death march.

According to witnesses, in early November 1944, Radnóti was severely beaten by a drunken militiaman who had been tormenting him for "scribbling". While passing near Győr, the prisoners were to be placed at the city's hospital, but as it being destroyed by Allied carpet bombing, Radnóti, together with other Jews, was shot, and buried in a mass grave. Today, a statue next to the road commemorates his place of death.

"Postcard 4" which was written days before his own death, describes the horror of seeing "his friend, the violinist Miklós Lorsi" executed. What follows is the poem in its translated version:

"Postcard 4"
I fell next to him. his body rolled over.
It was tight as a string before it snaps.
Shot in the back of the head- "This is how
you'll end." "Just lie quietly," I said to myself.
Patience flowers into death now.
"Der springt noch auf," I heard above me.
Dark filthy blood was drying on my ear.
October 31, 1944


Prayer Points:
1) Sad stories like Radnóti’s is a reminder of the fatal history of the Balkans. Throughout the Balkans, no matter where you journey, there is a sadness that hangs in the air. Let us pray for new stories of happy times.
Isaiah 61:3 To console those who mourn in Zion,
                  To give them beauty for ashes,
                  The oil of joy for mourning,
                  The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
                  That they may be called trees of righteousness,
                  The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.

2) Pray for hope. There is little hope in the Balkans. May the Lord raise up “hope givers” for the many people groups across the Balkans. Pray for encouragement.
3) I had someone quote Gandhi to me the other day, “There is enough to feed everyone’s need but not enough to feed everyone’s greed.” It is natural for those without hope to be selfish. Pray for generosity to arise and free people from the bondage of self-centeredness.
4) Even Christians in the Balkans are tight fisted. Many pastors must work long hours at a secular job and then try to pastor a congregation. Pray that generosity to be released through the Christians.

Let's talk about the Balkans. Make a Comment.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Pray for Turkey

July 7, 2017


Clashes in Ankara’s Yenimahalle
In the News: Late on July 2, Turkish residents and Syrian refugee residents of the neighborhood engaged in clashes leaving one person injured. Workplaces belonging to Syrian refugees and Iraqi Turkmens were damaged, Hürriyet reported.
Why is this important to the Balkans? Turkey is important to the Balkans because it occupied parts of the peninsula for centuries, therefore having an influence on the Balkan peoples.
Article: Deputy PM calls for ‘tolerance’ toward Syrian refugees amid rising tension
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak has made a call for public tolerance following clashes between different ethnic groups in Ankara’s Yenimahalle district.

“We have seen a social reaction against Syrians lately. Of course, there are some among the 3 million of them who may have committed crime. But the crime rate of Syrians is lower than that of our own citizens,” Kaynak told daily Hürriyet on July 4.
“If there are safe zones in Syria, they will go back to their own lands,” Kaynak said, adding that he recognized.
“The argument that ‘our soldiers are going to Syria and getting killed while Syrians are here safely’ is correct but insufficient. People between the ages of 20 and 45 can serve during a war but not all are warriors. In order for them to be warriors, they must be armed and educated accordingly. It is both not right and not possible for Turkey to do that alone,” he said.
“Turkey is approaching the issue solely from a humanitarian perspective. There are 1,200,000 helpless Syrian women in Turkey. We cannot ignore them,” Kaynak added. Read full article at: http://www.balkaneu.com/deputy-pm-calls-for-tolerance-toward-syrian-refugees-amid-rising-tension/

Jerry’s commentary:
I agree with this deputy. This has been my argument concerning the Syrian/Iraqi refugees; that they should be trained and equipped to go back and take their home lands back. Therefore, I believe Turkey is positioned to be the place for assembling the refugees and preparing them for invasion. The western nations (NATO) can then step up and finance this effort. Russia should also be incorporated in supporting this also.
With western nations involved in this training and equipping, Turkey would not be in sole control of the process. Each participating country should be in agreement because they are only contributing money, arms and military advisers, not men in the battle.
Now from a Kingdom perspective:
Many of the fleeing Syrians and Iraqis are Christians. Either they are from the sparsely ancestral Christian inhabitants of Syria or they are newly converted Christians. (There are untold/unpublished stories of many refugees coming to Jesus) Not only Christians but people are fleeing because of the personal danger, economic breakdown and the discontent with Islam.
This situation has opened a door for the Church to evangelize. The Church should expand resources to plant missionaries among these refugees.
Does this create a holy war? Another Christian Crusade? Not necessarily, but that is a discussion that can be explored.
Prayer Points:
1)   The Christian’s greatest weapon is prayer. Let us pray for the Lord to fight for the refugees.
2)   Pray that the conversion of Syrians and Iraqis would continue with even greater momentum.
3)   Pray that the Church would seize this opportunity to evangelize the refugees.
4)   (There are undercover Christian groups operating in Syria and Iraq to bring the gospel) Pray that these people putting lives in danger will be protected and be led by the Spirit.