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In the early 1980’s an English travelling artist and artist—David Foster—started to write about the plight of some of the ordinary but amazing Christians he encountered across Europe. Their battles and perseverance in the face of persecution and poverty inspired Christians in the UK to pray and to give, and without even seeking to start an organisation, a movement of compassion became ‘Eurovangelism’.

Almost 50 years later and Eurovangelism has seen a legacy that brought Billy Graham to Eastern Europe, bibles smuggled through the iron curtain, the Alpha Course to the Balkans and a sense of holistic mission (caring for people regardless of their beliefs, and preaching as well as demonstrating the gospel) across the continent. A special perspective of the work has been that the focus is always upon Nationals, through Nationals and for Nationals.

And now, to reimagine this challenge a new operating name for Eurovangelism has taken hold. A name that is also the vision, heart cry and mission statement for the work—Transform Europe Network (or TEN for short).

Today, TEN supports palliative care centres, education centres, church plants, evangelism initiatives, short term mission teams, interventions for street children, clothing and fuel gifts for the vulnerable, micro loans for entrepreneurial start up, training for new generations of pastors, and the list goes on. In over 15 countries, and across 70+ projects, every person TEN touches has an incredible story.

Just like in the 1960’s, all of the support comes from the kindness and generosity of UK Christians. The story of TEN is therefore their story too, and every life touched and transformed is also part of their legacy.

» Find out more about the on going work of TEN.

» TENACIOUS – Get inspired from transformational stories.[/one_half_last] celebrating-text

For 50 years, Transform Europe Network has been working across the continent and seeing how God never lets go of His own. We felt that the stories we had experienced and collected should be shared to inspire the realisation again of God’s love and hold on our lives.

TENACIOUS is full of 100 faith inspiring real life stories, all written by TEN’s partners and friends!

Whether it be the testimony of people in prison, or those struggling with addiction, or of others battling as church leaders, or of faithful believers persevering for national change, these 100 true life accounts in ‘Tenacious’ are guaranteed to galvanize faith and reignite hope.

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Erion Cuni is a pastor and prison chaplain in Tirana, Albania, and shares this account from Genci:

My name is Genci. I’m now 50 years old. I have spent half of my life in prison. In 1991, I committed murder. The law at that time meant execution… I was in prison waiting for my sentence to be announced. That was not what the Lord had planned for me. 45 days before my sentence, the law changed and I was given life imprisonment. From the day I was put in prison, until the day the law changed, I cried and called on the Lord. My hair became grey and I was devastated.

In 1997, the financial fraud in the country made people mad, and a civil war began in Albania. All the prisons were opened. I was free, but homeless. My family had abandoned me. I was stealing to stay alive. In 1998, the state became stronger again and they started to re-capture all the prisoners that had escaped. They offered a 50% amnesty for all of those prisoners that turned themselves in. I had no-one outside to risk my life for and actually no life at all, no reason to stay free. I turned myself in and they gave me 25 years. I suffered for 19 years before I was released early for good behaviour.

Deep inside me, I did not want to go out. I had no place to go. I kept telling myself: ‘you have no house, no family, no profession and you are old—even in construction you will find no job, you are finished’. The good Lord, I am sure, was laughing at my fears.

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With my bag in my hand, I travelled to the capital and ended up at the doors of the General Directories of Prisons. They told me they could do nothing for me, but that I should contact the Christian Association for Albanian Prisoners. When I did, the social worker and the chaplain came to see me. We shared our stories and they told me about God and His Son, who died for me. They promised to help me because God loved me and so did they. I could not believe it! I had people caring for me.

The chaplain was also the pastor of a local church so I started going there every Sunday. I really could not believe my fortune—I was afraid that it could not last. Even now, after three years, nothing has changed. They still love me and care for me the same. I know that this does not come from man’s love, but that it is God’s love that rebuilds people and gives them a new life. My prayer is that one day I can do the same for others as my new family has done for me; that I may help others who are struggling, just as I struggled. Before I had no family, but now I have the perfect and eternal family… a family that will never abandon me because our Father in Heaven is Love and His Love is eternal just as He is.[/one_half_last]

Artur Krasniqi leads the Fellowship of the Lord’s People in Pristina, Kosova. He shares a story from one person who has come to know Jesus through the work.

My name is Resmije and I live in Kosova. I grew up in a family where my father was a drinker and an immoral man; I found out that my mother was not really my mother because I was a result of this kind of living. My sister and brothers abused me, saying I was not part of the family, and they treated me as a servant. A good part in all this was my step mother, who never separated me from her children; she loved me and treated me with compassion. As soon as I turned 16, they married me with a man twice my age. He had some problems. I lived with him for a couple of years, and one day he returned me back to my family.

The war in Kosova started in 1999. During the war, life was terrible and we were hiding all the time. Living every day by not knowing what will happen the next morning was terrible, we feared the police coming to our door to kill us, or dying from lack of food. But my story did not end there.

After the war, they married me again to another man, and this time I was a trafficking victim. Twice I drank a whole bottle of medications, but nothing happened. I wanted to end my life; I didn’t want to be used like that. Besides this I was also abused physically, just to threaten me and show me what would happen to me if I ran away. Then, after some time, I found an opportunity to run and I did.

After I ran away I understood I was pregnant. I lived in a special rescue house through some organisation here. During my stay there I had to talk to a psychologist about my entire story, she is a Christian. After I was stable, I gave birth to my daughter and they found a house for me. I thought I could now live my life and I met a man who I trusted to be my husband, but after I became pregnant again I understood he was married. This time I was broken down in pieces, this time no one did anything to me but myself! I was so angry with myself, so angry!

During the humanitarian aid distribution, I was invited to visit the church. One Sunday, the pastor asked us to come to the altar so we could pray and ask the Lord to change our heart. I went in front and someone prayed for me. I could feel something moving my heart and something changed. That day was different, that night as I went home I could not sleep from a joy I was feeling, and since that day, I will never go away from My Lord and Saviour Jesus, who gave me everything I needed. Every day I am growing in the Lord and He is with me in all I go through.

Jesus healed my heart and my soul; He is beside me wherever I go. Jesus is my securer and my shield who gives me love and reason of life.[/one_half_last]

Mirco Andreev leads the Skopje Evangelical Church in Macedonia. He tells us about one lady in the church:

Through our social work, which was developed in our church, we have helped many people. One lady has a prominent place, due to her life problems. She has four children, of whom the two youngest have severe physical and mental challenges. They are teenagers, but they look as though they are five years old. They need all day long attention and care. On top of that they have epilepsy.

The two other daughters are okay, if one can say so. The second one has consequences of cerebral palsy but her mind is extremely capable. The oldest has no physical challenges but she was hit by a lorry and has constant headaches.

The woman is not alone. She has a husband who developed diabetes and completely lost his sight. When we met them they were homeless. The little that they had was taken unjustly by some of their relatives. However, God gave me love and capability to help them and to build for them first one room, and later a little house, which was fixed up relatively well.

One afternoon I was in my office and the Lord put on my heart to pray for that woman and her family. I thought it was good that we were helping them, but did her heart know the Lord? She came from a Muslim background. She is illiterate, but strange enough she speaks three languages: Macedonian, Gypsy and Turkish—all different one from another. Yet, she is not able to write her name.

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I am not sure if she understands my sermons. No one at the Theological Seminary taught me how to preach to the illiterate people. I was sad once I acknowledged that.

Then, the phone rang! It was her on the other end of the line. Never before had she called me. She wanted to ask me something very important. She came together with her second daughter, and asked me if she could be baptised in water! I said of course, but I wanted to know if she knew anything about Jesus. Then she started to talk and for the next 20 minutes I heard the best evangelistic sermon ever in my life. She said something I was not expecting at all, she said, “Jesus preaches to me every night in my dreams!”

Well, it was obvious that she knew so much, even though she was unable to read. When the time for baptism came, she and her daughter were baptised. God reminded me that He cares more than I do for His children and where I am limited, He is not. Hallelujah![/one_half_last]

Mission Possible Bulgaria run soup kitchens with literacy classes in Roma suburbs and villages every winter. Roumen Ivanov, Director, writes:

Last winter our soup kitchen in Belopopci opened its doors again for the hungry children from the village. The first cold days of winter brought severe and lasting hunger to the Gypsy homes, and again the economic crisis hit the poorest families first. Most of the parents have been unemployed for years, and the seasonal work they had managed to find in the summer was long over. The children in front of the soup kitchen seemed to be unaware of this fact as they inhaled the sweet aroma of hot soup. They looked like a flock of hungry sparrows—jostling, jumping around, laughing and crying all at once.

If this story was made up, it could be funny. When I saw them for the first time five years ago, Traicho and his three sisters looked like characters from a story by the Brothers Grimm. Pretty, shabby, with marks of dried up tears on their cheeks; Kali was five then, Boggy four, and Duda three. Traicho, their brother, had just turned eight and proudly stalked around them. The parents, coming from afar, were touring the villages nearby in search of work as wood choppers in the mountain. Their belongings consisted of what they had on their backs: a pot, a few plates, and misery as their constant companion.

Today the situation for this family is different. They are not richer, but being sure that they will find food and safety for the children in the winter made them permanently settle in the village. To begin with they were attracted to the believers, not just for the food they provided but, by and by, also for the Word preached in the church. And the miracle started happening. The parents started looking after their children better, maintaining better hygiene, dressing them better and sending them to school! The children are as cute and chatty as before, but one can see the influence of God’s Word in their lives. They come to church even when their parents don’t, they sing to the Lord at the top of their voices, they pray sincerely and know how to behave, as if they were raised in a French school.

A month ago I met them again. They were again walking around together, as if glued to each other—Traicho, the elder brother, and the three sisters, joyful and carefree. Who would believe that these children were like Brothers Grimm’s characters at the beginning, and now look like the children around Jesus, about whom He said: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Luke 18:16).[/one_half_last]

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