The Balkans by Bus
by Jim Fleming, Global Director
To explain what makes Emmaus more effective in some countries than others is complicated. The Balkan countries are certainly a case study of complications: historically (many empires have dominated over the centuries), religiously (orthodoxy, Islam, atheism), politically (part of the Soviet Union for 70 years) and even divisionism among evangelical groups since freedom after 1989.
So what would a nine-day visit from me, as Emmaus Global Director, achieve?
Our first stop to Albania was prompted by the leaders of the assemblies who wanted to revive their Emmaus ministry. Twelve years ago, a good start was subsequently thwarted by various complications, mostly due to the 70 years of severe atheism under the Soviet regime. Pogradec is the beautiful, mountain town where we met. As I heard their Emmaus story, I noted the potential to revive the work: two Christian radio stations in Albania, both run by men at our meeting; a ready-to-work translator; church leaders wanting the courses; and 14 titles already in print. Within two weeks, they had worked through an action plan I left them, and appointed Beni as the new director. Currently, he is taking inventory, reprinting missing titles, and developing a new distribution system for Emmaus Albania. What an exciting outcome for just a short visit!
MONTENEGRO & BOSNIA
Sharon and I planned a trip by bus through Montenegro and Bosnia, asking the Lord for contacts beforehand. None came. We saw the countries and learned some of their history and moved on. After we left, contacts came. Why not before, Lord? He knows. Maybe a different form of follow-up from neighboring countries will be more effective. Pray.
Serbia is our most stable Balkan Emmaus work. Vladimir Majersky has led this since the ministry’s conception in the 2000s. His dynamic leadership has seen courses widely used, almost to the saturation level in the few churches that are in Serbia. Vladimir is nearing retirement; thus, our visit was to work through a succession plan with their team. Results came quickly: the team will assume distribution, Vladimir will continue answering the student questions, and the new emphasis will be with Gypsy Churches. I preached at two of these Gypsy churches and was blessed by these warm and loving believers who, although ostracized by society, are excited about the impact of the Emmaus courses in their personal and church lives.
Pray for the new era of Emmaus in these Balkan countries!
Serbian Emmaus Team
Serbian Emmaus office with courses
Jim Fleming preaching to Gypsy believers
Albanian Christian radio station
Jim meeting with Albanian leadership