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by Kenny McKee - Director, GRN UK
About 6 years ago on a flight following a recording trip to Macedonia, I met an aid worker from Kosova called Clive. Over the years we became great friends. His work has been to help the widows and orphans in Kosova. As a result of the war, there are over 10,000 widows in desperate need, many of them very young.
Clive enquired if we had anything recorded in the Goran language. He said there were about 30 to 50 thousand Goran speakers living in 28 villages on the Kosova/Albanian border. There were no known Christian believers among them. Since that time, God gave Joan (my wife) and I, a burden for the Goran people. We longed to give them the Gospel in their own language
Early in 2008, I met Clive again at a conference and asked about the Goran people. Clive said he was taking a small team to Kosova in April and suggested that we go and see if the Lord would open up opportunities for recording.
We arrived at the Aid centre in Kosova one evening and the very next morning, a Goran man walked in with an Albanian evangelist. His name was Mukin. He had become a Christian believer just 2 months before and had travelled 23 hours by bus, hoping to record the Message in his language for his people! We were so excited! After only 2 days we had recorded the Gospel message in the Goran language!
Soon after the recording, we packed up a car with Albanian Bibles, CDs, tape players, and lots of humanitarian aid. Mukin wanted to distribute materials to those in need. So we drove the few hours to where the road ended near his village and there we met the Goran people.
Return to Kosova
In October we decided to return to Kosova with a small team. Some people asked us what we would be doing. We said, "We didn't really know but we know Someone who does!" This turned out to be so true. We wanted to distribute the Goran recordings on CD, along with more aid for the widows and orphans. We also wanted to do more recordings in the Goran language.
We were a little apprehensive as we enjoyed the beautiful scenery on our way into the remote mountain villages. The villagers are nominal Muslim and each village has a mosque. This was the first Christian outreach to these people in their own language.
In the Goran region, on the border of Albania and Macedonia, we met our friend Mukin who had made the recordings. Firstly, we went to visit a primary school. The children were so excited to see us, especially with all the goodies we had for them - toys, teddies, pencils, pens, sweets and books. We showed them our puppets and sang songs. We played games and gave them opportunity to try their English. The teachers were so very welcoming. We heard later that the Muslim leader was not so impressed!
There are 28 villages of Goran speakers (we visited only two) with approximately 30,000 people living in the region. Others live in America, Europe and other countries where they have gone in search of work. These lovely people are very isolated and often marginalized by the Albanian and Serbian speakers.
For the next few days we drank their strong coffee, laughed with them, told stories and gave out aid gifts along with our Goran recordings. We visited a high school which had almost no facilities. They were also glad to receive our gifts (including the computer in the photo) and CDs. Together we sang songs about Jesus. We told them how much God loves the Goran people. One teenage boy responded, "Everyone treats us like pigs, but you have treated us with much love."
We talk about 'people groups' and 'unreached people', but these Goran people are no longer names or statistics to us. They have human needs and feelings just like us. They have no health services, few resources for education, and life is hard. We heard many sad stories. The aftermath of the war in 1999 is still raw. There is a sense of hopelessness. For generations the Goran people have been isolated and alone ... now they have heard the Gospel for the first time.
We were able to make 3 more recordings in Goran and Kosovan-Albanian. We hope to return this year to meet our new friends and visit more of their villages. In 1999 we first heard about the Goran people and often wondered how we could ever reach them. 10 years later we have recorded and distributed the Gospel in a language they can understand...their own!