|Republic of Macedonia|
Area 25,713 sq.km. Landlocked state between Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Greece and Albania.
Capital Skopje 700,000. Urbanites 59%.
Ethnic populations are a sensitive, politicized issue. Many think that the minority populations are larger than the government admits.
Slavic 65.6%. Macedonian 1.15 mill.; Bosnian 55,000; Serb 38,000.
Albanian 22.9% (possibly now up to 30%).
Roma (Gypsy) 7.5% (possibly 9.5%).
Literacy 89%. Official language Macedonian, one of the southern Slavonic languages. All languages 8. Languages with Scripture 3Bi 2NT 2por 1w.i.p.
One of the poorest regions of former Yugoslavia. The private sector has been growing recently. Heavily reliant on agriculture, mining and manufacturing. Unemployment close to 40%. HDI 0.746; 73rd/174. Public debt 57% of GNP. Income/person $1,100 (3.5% of USA).
Macedonia is subject to territorial claims by its neighbours, who contested its 1992 proclamation of independence. Politics in this multi-party democracy are fragmented along ethnic and nationalist lines. Ethnic tension grows, despite the restraint shown by both Macedonians and the large and restive Albanian minority a large proportion of which only became residents since 1944. The Kosovo crisis (see Yugoslavia) in 1999 caused the arrival of thousands more ethnic Albanians. In 2001 there was some fighting between Kosovan Albanian guerrillas and Macedonian forces.
Historically, the Orthodox Church has had a strong influence. A harsh policy aimed at restricting religious groups (apart from Orthodox, Catholics and Muslims) was overturned in court in 1999, but some restrictions remain.
1 Macedonia's ethnic diversity dominates its political and social existence. Macedonian pluralism resembles segregation more than harmony. Finding a balance between the demands of the respective ethnic minorities, especially the large Albanian population, is a challenge for the authorities. Pray for the government to sensitively seek peace and justice for all. Pray also for God's anointing upon President Trajkovski, who is a believer and has served as a lay preacher in the Methodist Church.
2 The Macedonian Orthodox Church claims to be shepherd to the majority of the population, but their 1,100 churches remain largely empty. There are only 150 priests. Spiritually weak and steeped in tradition, the Orthodox Church often actively opposes any evangelical or evangelistic ministry. Pray for new life to touch this Church and all those who belong to it.
3 The evangelical witness is small, but growing. The Methodist, Baptist, Congregational and Evangelical Churches are growing, and vigorous new pentecostal and charismatic churches are springing up around the country. Pray for unity among believers and active vision for outreach. The opportunities are there, as the Kosovo crisis has made people more open to Jesus largely through the aid and relief work of Christian groups.
a) Albanians, who claim to number one-third of Macedonia's population, are rapidly increasing through both a higher birth rate and thousands of refugees who fled persecution in Kosovo. Tensions between the restive Albanian population, with their demands for increasing political influence, and the majority of Macedonians could lead to long-term problems. Though nearly all are Muslim, with only a few known Christians among them, they are open to the loving witness of evangelical believers.
5 Foreign missions are finding Macedonia to be one of Europe's neediest lands, and one of the more difficult to access. Worldshare, IMB-SBC, Pioneers, Frontiers and Partners International are actively conducting ministry alongside indigenous ministry organizations. Two training/discipleship schools have been started in Macedonia; pray that they might nurture godly, anointed leadership for the young church in this nation. Pray also for the ministry of SEAM(IFES); many of the new converts are young people.
b) A Christian Cultural Centre in Skopje includes a Christian bookstore, although only a few books have been translated into Macedonian. Pray for more Christian material in Macedonian to be developed and distributed PI has a vision for this.
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