St Stephen’s in Twickenham, London organised a TEN mission trip to Macedonia in June 2017
Report from Joy and David Wilson, Thelma Hadjigeorghi and Jeanna Wheeler. The team also included Allan Spencer, a TEN trustee who was a great team member and lots of fun! We all had an amazing time as I’m sure the photos will show. Macedonia is a very beautiful and mountainous country with vast expanses of unspoilt forested hills stretching mile after mile. Macedonia is a country the size of Wales with a population of approximately 2 million of whom 1 million live in its capital, Skopje.
We met with so much warmth and friendliness. I think we all came home feeling happy that our visit had encouraged our hosts, Dragan and Biljana Manev, as well and the other evangelical and Roma church leaders that we met.
Surprisingly, we arrived in Macedonia to find more typical English weather! Lots of time was spent on the road with Dragan doing most of the driving – as we visited towns in the south-west of Macedonia including Veles, Bitola, Prilep, and Resen.
Saturday was spent visiting Veles to see the new Women’s Christian Centre, where a Macedonian Women’s discipleship residential course for about 100 women had just finished. After sharing a meal together, we drove south to Bitola where we unloaded all the gifts and humanitarian aid we had brought. Dragan will distribute the gifts and colouring books week by week as he visits families and engages in outreach on the streets.
The photo here shows us handing over gifts in our hotel room at Bitola. We walked into the hotel with four large suitcases and a few minutes later Dragan walked out with two!
We had a busy Sunday helping with three church services. Sunday morning we visited the Roma church in Prilep where there is a thriving church with simple but heartfelt worship. David preached and Jeanna and Thema shared testimonies.
We went shopping for some food to take to a Roma family and enjoyed Turkish coffee and baklava type cakes in their home . We helped to run an hour long session of children’s church at 1pm in Prilep Roma Church with 40 children age from 4 -14 attending. They were wonderfully unselfconscious and sang and prayed passionately. We played games and enjoyed an hour of somewhat holy chaos ending with the children praying out loud together.
“I loved the way the children engaged with us at the Roma Church in Prilep they were so polite, welcoming and their worship was so heartfelt. The people were welcoming and very friendly.”
In the evening we enjoyed an hour of preaching and testimonies with a partner church in Bitola and prayed with several people afterwards. The pastor there – Josef will help Dragan with outreach in Resen and has Macedonian alpha course materials that Dragan will use.
Monday was to be more of a rest day, but first we visited a Roma family where we prayed for healing for the father who had cancer and took presents from St Stephen’s for the baby – toys, clothes and a coat.
Later we visited the mountains near Resen – photo here of us on top of Baba mountain overlooking Ohrid lake and looking towards Albania which is only about 10 km away. We enjoyed walking through alpine wild flowers on the tops of mountains!
In the evening we felt the presence of God in a special way when meeting Dragan’s small bible study meeting in his house in Resen. Please pray for two of the founding church members that we met; Ljupcho the goatherd and a young single mum Oliviera. They were baptised last year and gave their testimonies. We spent time worshipping in English and Macedonian and praying together.
Dragan has plans for an Alpha course and asks for prayer for this to take place in Resen.
A long line of fruit stalls beside the road where one could buy trays of peaches for about £1.50, lovely big ripe apricots, cherries and pears. We enjoyed lots of fresh fruit.
Tuesday afternoon was spent trekking up a steep hill in Veles to the Children’s Roma church venue where we held a rather chaotic children’s church class with about 25 children some of whom are shown here. The streets were too narrow and steep for a car.
We visited a sweet Roma family called the ‘Prince family’ living in 2 rooms with no electricity. The mother had a real faith and shared how God had saved her youngest son’s life through prayer after he almost died from drinking engine oil.
“With the Prince family I was touched by their warm welcome, they shared with us generously from what little they had. I think they may even have used up the remaining hot water they had (you may remember the mother asked if anyone had a lighter?). I can’t remember her name but she was a such a beautiful person inside and out. You may also recall she told us that although she was illiterate she taught herself to read from the bible, miraculously.
Food was typically one big meal a day at 3pm and usually consisted of meat or fish plus chips preceded by a large traditional salad of tomatoes and cucumber lavishly covered in grated cheese.
“This was my first missionary trip and I really loved it and look forward to going back to Macedonia . The work that Pastor Dragon and Biljana are doing is so powerful. The testimonies we heard were really very inspiring and encouraging. I think the sad thing is that the Roma people are almost forgotten in Eastern Europe and they live below the poverty line and it was good to see the evangelical work done by Pastor Dragon. I loved the church services we went to and the praise and worship was so touching and beautiful. The kids were simply amazing and we had so much fun playing with them and telling them the bible stories of the Good Samaritan and Lazarus. I felt this trip really touched me and made me realise how important it is to preach the good news. What I loved was the faith that I saw and how humble the people were. They were so hospitable and so warm. My heart really went out to the kids when I saw the conditions they live in. I think this trip really changed me, encouraged me and I now just want to do God’s work even more. I really like Pastor Dragon and Biljana, I have now made new friends. I am hoping that the church will continue to support them. We also had a great team and it was lovely to travel with Joy and her team.”
If you or your church are interested in a mission trip in 2018 please get in touch with the TEN office team by email: firstname.lastname@example.org