Joy and David Wilson, and Josh Askwith from St Stephen’s Church in Twickenham, London, spent an amazing week in Macedonia with TEN Partners, Pastor Dragan and Biljana Manev. Everywhere they went, they were met with so much warmth and friendliness and returned home happy that their short visit had encouraged all those they met. Here’s their story as told by Joy Wilson.
Ohrid, Day one
After delayed flights, we finally arrived at Macedonia’s Ohrid airport and were greeted by Dragan and Biljana. It was a short 30 minute ride to Resen where we had a light supper and settled into the home of our hosts.
Resen, Day two
Each day we enjoyed a delicious Macedonian traditional breakfasts of eggs, cold meats, cheese, yoghurts, breads and Turkish coffee.We then visited a disabled children’s day centre where we sang songs, shared balloons and bubbles and a short gospel presentation. We also took food parcels to Roma families living on the Resen rubbish dump. We met two men and two children busy sorting through rubbish. The children were covered in flies especially if you went into their tent. This visit really disturbed us. It was amazing that Dragan and Biljana had ever found them. Pray that a way may be found for the families to move from the rubbish dump.
Lake Prespa, Day three
We had a short afternoon break at Prespa Lake only a 10 minute drive from Resen. It was lovely and warm for a swim. On the way home we visited a very interesting museum of old Macedonian costumes.
That evening we had a ‘church’ service in Dragan’s home with four locals. We met Lpucho, who had recently been to Bible college in Serbia. He was in pain and probably needing a hip replacement. There was also an elderly professor who talked about all the local herbs that are good for making tea. Please pray for Lpucho’s hip replacement and also for Susannah’s family to come to know Jesus.
Demir Hisar, Day four
We visited two families in a mountain village near Demir Hisar situated about an hour away from Resen. This was a fascinating and beautiful trip and an insight into the simple lifestyle of rural communities. It was a bit like going back in time to the 1930s. Simple subsistence farming with the odd flat screen TV!
We gave out a couple of New Testaments to an Orthodox family and one of the team shared a short message. The local hills were well known for mushrooms and we ate a spicy mushroom soup for lunch. We delivered some carving tools to a local family, that had been donated by a member of St Stephen’s church for a Christian carpenter who lives in the village.
Later we climbed the hills surrounding the village and with a local guide we picked about 1kg of mushrooms! We left the village with our arms full of small apples, tiny plums, flowers for drying into for tea, fresh mushrooms, dried mushrooms and a large marrow.
Friday evening back in Resen we attended an outdoor cultural concert – mostly consisting of long speeches in Macedonian (which everyone seemed to enjoy) and then at the end a Christian musician played songs before pastors from Ohrid briefly shared the gospel. Dragan was allowed a table of New Testaments and we shared our popular supply of bubbles, balloons and sweets with local children. This made us lots of friends! The evening started about an hour late so we didn’t get home until midnight.
Wedding in Veles, Day five
Veles is 150 km from Resen. We were all invited to the wedding of Igor and Magdalene in Veles – a young couple who Dragan and Biljana knew from Bible college in Serbia. The wedding was a real cultural experience. It was like mixing up the wedding service and reception. We sat around tables eating while the band played worship songs and two pastors preached. Then we stood up for vows and prayers. After vows we pretty much started dancing the ‘Oro’ to very loud music for the next four hours!
At the wedding, we met Philip who is the pastor from Veles Evangelical church (appointed in succession to Dragan) and we met Monica and Ghera – pastors from Romania, and also Andres, a pastor from Latvia. It was good to encourage them. On the long journey home, we stopped to collect free mountain spring water and to buy fresh peaches, apricots and plums from a long line of roadside fruit stalls.
Church services in Bitola and Prilep, Day six
On Sunday, we were very busy helping with church services in both Bitola and Prilep. In Bitola, 30 minutes drive from Resen, David preached while Josh and Joy provided a children’s class. We then travelled on to Prilep where we took a Roma children’s class with about 40 children and young people.
This year we had a Noah’s Ark theme and the class was full of games and songs and activities all based around the theme of animals, rain and obeying God!
After a lunch with the pastors in Prilep we went to visit a very poor and rather elderly Macedonian lady who lived in a village away in some hills near Demir Hisar. She was someone whose roof and windows had collapsed. Sadly, she had died leaving at least 3 dogs and cats. We gave water to a very friendly dog who had been well loved but now was abandoned.
The picture opposite shows the upstairs of the Prilep church. They would like it to become classrooms, bedrooms and a pastor’s office.
Please pray that Prilep Roma Church can find the £3,500 needed for this work.
Please contact TEN if you are able to support this project.
Finally, on Sunday evening we drove up to the National Park on Baba mountain. This was incredibly beautiful and a lovely place to maybe stay for a hike or mountain bike trail.
Monday – we set off to our holiday flat in Ohrid but first we meet with Macedonian pastors and American House of Prayer missionaries in Struga, beside Lake Ohrid. Lake Ohrid is very beautiful especially Ohrid Old Town with its ancient fort and waterfront. Highly recommended for holiday visit. What a wonderful way to end a busy week of mission!
Finally, comments came from Dragan and Biljana;
“You were a great blessing for many here and especially to us. Thank you for your coming here and the ministry that you did. God bless you all. Greetings to your families and the church at St Stephen’s in Twickenham.”
Please pray for the new church in Resen to grow in depth and numbers. Pray that the Roma families living in poverty on the rubbish dump in Resen will find somewhere better to live.