For those readers who don’t know much about Serbia, it is one of the least evangelized countries in Europe, although its main religion is officially Orthodox Christianity. The country is plagued by poor politics and corruption, which affect all areas of life. Salaries are among the lowest in Europe, and Serbia’s level of media freedom is shamefully low. To make matters worse, about 51,000 mostly young and educated people leave Serbia every year.
Good News Church (Evandjeoska Crkva Radosna Vest) is based in Niš, the main city in the south of Serbia, where there are no more than 100 bible-believing Christians in a population of around 300,000. There are many towns in the area that have absolutely no expression of biblical Christianity at all.
Despite the challenges in the country, both practically and spiritually, God is moving in an extraordinary way among the Roma community, who are otherwise (more often than not) treated as second-class citizens. However, this year has been harder than ever for Roma churches. Those who would normally spend the summer working away (tourism, fruit-picking, labouring, etc.) have not been able to do so because of Covid. This has left many without life’s basic necessities and with little or nothing on the dinner table.
As a church we work closely with a number of Roma churches in the region, and we were compelled to take action. Along with dear friends from the UK, Netherlands, and elsewhere, we were able to raise support to buy firewood for the whole winter for 101 families, including widows, in the Roma church in Leskovac. The next challenge was to help provide food and some basic household products for families in Roma churches in Leskovac, Niš, Prokuplje, Vranje and Pirot, as well as some villages, all in the south of Serbia. The overwhelming response has resulted in essential help for over 500 families over the winter period – until once again people can return to their seasonal work. We’re grateful to have had this opportunity, and grateful, too, for the example of our Roma brothers and sisters, who are standing firm and full of faith in adversity.