Developments in Kosovo
It is almost six years ago now that BMS changed the direction of its work in Kosovo by having a team move into an ethnic minority enclave. The goal of their ministry was and is three-fold: to empower children (and girls especially), to foster community cohesion(in what is a post-conflict society), and to share and nurture faith (in what is a nominal Orthodox context).
Research undertaken by our team revealed that one of the most significant ways they could make a positive impact on the community was by providing educational activities for pre-school children and by creating a community play area for families. Accordingly, programmes were designed to enhance and develop the children’s learning skills, as well as increasing their knowledge of English, and a much needed recreational area was built in the garden of a rented Centre.
Six years on, the community speaks highly of our team and perceives them to be consistent and reliable in what is a rather unstable context. Our team has built good relationships with the different sections of society and has developed to become the only NGO in Kosovo (to our knowledge) that works across the different ethnicities.
The mix of children and young people attending our team’s programmes is likely to increase further as
we begin working more closely with a local Kosovan NGO that is focused on the Roma. It should be
noted that unemployment among the Roma currently stands at 92% and that the social benefits paid by the government only amount to €75 per family per month.
The plan is to move our whole operation to the administrative headquarters of the local Kosovan NGO. It is close to our present Centre and next to a Roma settlement. Beyond the offer of physical space, there
is real potential to develop a measure of collaboration in the areas of Early Years education and English Language teaching (across a wider age range).
Once again, the BMS Action Team is playing an integral role in assuring the success of the project in Kosovo. Their contribution goes beyond the help they provide in our Centre and playground. In a community that functions like a large village (despite there being a population of 30,000), the Action Team-ers stand out and are quickly known.
Do pray for Robert and Rose (both teachers) who joined our Kosovo team in January and for Holly and Toby who (after ve years) will be nishing and returning to the UK in June.
French Baptist church-planters
As is our custom, we gathered together the French Baptist church-planters in early February (around 35 of us) for two days’ sharing, teaching, encouraging and planning.
We invited a spiritual ‘father’, a Swedish church- planter who has served in France for almost 50 years, to tell us about some of his experiences (positive and negative) and to draw lessons from them. What an encouragement!
We invited everyone to work on defining and articulating their vision, in each location. We spent time in worship. We shared news and prayed for one another. In the evening, we also shared culinary specialities that we had brought from our various corners of France.
The work in France is slow and unspectacular but the number of Evangelicals has nonetheless multiplied
by nine over the past 60 years. In addition, there would seem to be a fresh impetus for church-planting currently and a greater desire among the various Evangelical denominations to work together. Do pray for us.
After 16 years’ travelling, we are going to be stepping down from our BMS regional leadership role in September and will return to being fully seconded to the French Baptist Federation once more.
What the French Baptists are requesting is that we build on our current leadership of their ‘Home Mission’ team, with a view to further developing the church- plants and, in addition, trying to strengthen some of the more fragile congregations through visiting, training, coaching, and so on.
Part of our time will continue to be devoted to a wider BMS role, however, in that we will still carry some delegated responsibility for BMS’ partnerships with the French Baptist Federation and with the International Baptist Theological Study Centre in The Netherlands. That means that, happily, we will still have the opportunity to support our BMS colleagues around France and in Amsterdam.
These past 16 years in the regional role have seen us travel to 34 different countries. We have taken close to 500 flights and 200 InterCity trains and made 230 road trips, sleeping in nearly 500 different beds!
We will be sad to conclude what has been such an enriching and fulfilling regional role but, that said, we are a pastoral couple at heart and are looking forward to returning to more local church ministry. There is an advert for Philip’s successor on the BMS website currently and he/she will hopefully be appointed on Thursday 13 April. Please do pray on that day (and beforehand) that God’s will may be clearly discerned.
With warm wishes and
our thanks for your support, Philip and Rosemary
If you would like to support Philip and Rosemary by prayer and committed regular giving, visit bmsworldmission.org/partners or call 01235 517617 for a 24:7 Partners lea et.
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