Blessings not Bombs in the Balkans
Over the last four years, Kenny has made several trips into Kosova, Albania and Serbia. His interest and concern have grown to include many other groups who have suffered in the conflicts that have engulfed the region.
He writes, "Like many wars, when the news leaves our TV screens and goes onto the next war or world crisis, we tend to think everything is OK in that country and that the people are fine. This is not the case, and it was only by going to Kosova that Joan and I realised these are not just statistics or language groups. These people have enormous needs - with neither infrastructure, jobs, nor stable government and with much bitterness. Positive change will take a very long time."
The suggestion was made to produce recordings in Kosovan Albanian. Kenny responded, "We decided to record for the Kosovan people who have gone through much trauma in the 1999 war between the Serbs and Albanians. Over 10,000 young Kosovan boys and men had been killed, houses burned to the ground with thousands left homeless, and of course many widows and orphans left as a result."
These people have many needs, so Kenny has linked up with other groups and individuals trying to make a difference in this part of the world. Each time they go in, they take much needed material help for the very poor.
They work with local churches, ministries and networks to encourage the people and they make and distribute recordings that help people find hope and life in Jesus. Kenny comments, "Working with these other missions has opened the way for recording projects in Albania, Croatia, Serbia and others where there is such a hunger for God's word, and where there is so much hopelessness." This past April, Kenny and several others flew to Serbia to attend a pastor's conference and to network with a Christian humanitarian group there. They were also able to make 4 new recordings in the Roma language and more in Serbian. More are planned. It seems that there are few evangelical churches in the country and very few believers. Some people attend the Orthodox Church but among those, knowledge of the Scriptures is extremely low. Many are just indifferent to the Gospel. Much prayer is needed for this country.
The Roma people in both Serbia and Kosova are among the most needy. In May this year a team, loaded up with kids' shoes, clothing, GRN DVDs and CDs and other gifts for needy families, (yes, this is 'modern' Europe!), spent a week with these people. They joined in kid's clubs, a "widow's day party", a youth event and just visited and spent time with people. Kenny writes, "For me this is the most important part of our time in Kosova. People need to feel worth and love."
Kenny McKee's interest in the Balkans goes back to Bible College days in 1998 - long before he became National Director of GRN UK. Through the years, God kept reminding him of this needy part of the world and gave him and his wife, Joan, a particular interest in the Goran people who live in the Albanian - Serbian border area. At that time there were no believers among this small and marginalised people group.
The first recording trip to Macedonia took place in about 2001, but it was early in 2008 when they received news of a Goran believer. Immediately plans were made and in April that year, Kenny and Joan travelled to the area and made the first ever recordings in the Goran language.
Despite the poverty and the trauma the people have suffered, Kenny wrote, "God is working in this place and it was our joy to continue to know and visit the friendly Kosovan people. All our team were touched in many different ways and that is what we prayed for before going."
Kenny concludes, "The Lord seems to be opening other doors of opportunity to reach people with the Gospel in other places. We know The Lord has much work to be done there in Eastern Europe, and we want to encourage people, churches and missions to get involved in other parts of Europe where there is so much need of the Good News."