by Bore Blazhevski
Bore has served for over 30 years, encouraging church growth and, since 1995, in Every Home for Christ, aiming to bring the gospel to every home in Macedonia.
The Republic of North Macedonia1 is a small country situated in the western Balkans in the southeast of Europe. This is a place where many civilisations have arisen and battles for territories have been fought. According to some historical records and maps, before the Balkan wars, Macedonian territory was three times bigger. In August 1913, in the Treaty of Bucharest, it was partly divided between Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia, where ethnic Macedonians still live.
Macedonia was one of the six republics of the former Yugoslavia before it became independent in 1991. It is a multi-ethnic country in which 65% of the population of 2.1 million are Macedonians and minority groups include Albanians, Turks, Serbs, Roma, Vlachs and Bosniaks. The country is rich with mountains, lakes, rivers, medieval monasteries, archaeological sites, natural treasures and mines. It offers some of the best-preserved examples of ancient architecture and folklore in Europe. The city of Ohrid in the southwest has one of the oldest and deepest lakes in Europe, which lies 650m above sea level and is under UNESCO protection. Ohrid attracts tourists from around the world, especially during summer time, because of its sunny beaches, good food, monasteries and other places of interest.
Macedonia is a democratic country, currently ruled by the Social Democrat Party. There is a high percentage of unemployed people, as most of the factories and big companies were shut down during the 1990s’ transition period. From the 1960s onwards, many people migrated to Western Europe, Australia, Canada and the USA for a better life. The capital, Skopje, is the administrative, business, educational and diplomatic centre, with a population of 800,000. There are more than 1,600 villages in the country and these rural agricultural areas produce vegetables, fruit, tobacco, grapes and sheep. Other industries include furniture, textiles, dairy and wine. In the last decade, several foreign companies have invested in Macedonian businesses.
Ninety-five percent of Macedonians declare themselves Orthodox, which is the official religion in the country. Their faith is mostly based on tradition, observing holidays and rituals, but neglecting the authority and teaching of the Bible. The state recognises five major religions: Orthodox, Muslim, Catholic, Methodist and Jew. All other Christian religions are put under the category of ‘minor faith congregations’. Altogether there are about 40 evangelical and Protestant churches, with approximately 7,000 Christians – an estimate, as there are no official statistics available. The churches in the capital city number around 20. They cooperate in regular meetings and prayer, mutual projects, events and evangelistic outreach.
The largest minority churches are evangelical. One in the capital has about 100 members. At the beginning, in the 1980s, this was one denomination along with the Pentecostal church. It divided a dozen years later and now the Pentecostal church has split into two smaller congregations.
The Methodist Church is recognised as a state church and is growing very slowly, although a couple of its buildings have recently closed. Their constitution is different from other evangelical churches and they are not willing to cooperate. The Congregational church was a part of the Methodist Church until the early 1990s. Between the two wars there was great revival but later, in Tito’s era, there was stagnation. Today, there are five Baptist churches with about 200 members. Each local Baptist church is independent.
So far, the Methodist, Congregational and other Evangelical churches, including one Baptist church in the capital, have their own buildings. All the others, including the church where I serve, use rented buildings.
Every Home for Christ
I used to work on a church magazine, regularly visit the small churches in villages where I preach, and visit dispersed families and individuals across the country. Since 1999, I have served as a voluntary church leader.
Volunteers from almost every church in the country are involved in this evangelical outreach.
In 1995, I started to lead the ministry called Every Home for Christ, affiliated with the international organisation. This is mainly focused on systematic door-to-door literature outreach, distributions and follow- up. So far, nearly 12,000 people have been contacted and received literature. During 25 years of intensive outreach and distributions, we have managed to spread over a million pieces of literature in almost every city, town and village. My wife, Rule, who is a nurse and a midwife, officially joined me in the ministry in 2010, but she has been helping me in the church and the ministry since we were married in 1983.
We have used a wide variety of materials in our outreaches, camps and distributions. These include gospel tracts, Bibles, New Testaments, books, brochures, Bible courses and DVDs, as well as gifts of vegetable seeds, flowers and wooden crosses. In the last decade, Every Home for Christ has delivered several seasonal projects as part of our ministry activities. For example, at Christmas we give out special gospel tracts and small gifts, and we have been participating in Samaritan’s Purse Christmas shoebox distributions since 1999. For Easter we prepare thousands of packages containing an Easter pamphlet and a wooden cross with a short Bible message to emphasise Christ’s death on the Cross, as well as printing Easter cards and flyers for mass distribution all over
the country. Volunteers from almost every church in the country are involved in this evangelical outreach.
In cooperation with the church where I serve, Every Home for Christ is involved in humanitarian activities. We participated in major relief operations following the refugee crisis in Kosovo during the bombardment in 1999 and worked among displaced families during the conflict in our country in 2001. We provided disaster relief after the floods in the south of the country in 2014 and the flash floods in villages around the capital in 2016. In response to the migrant crisis, we supported orphanages, shelters and nursing homes. During the coronavirus pandemic, we have been producing and distributing protective masks and gloves, packed together with a gospel tract that we give to small clinics, elderly people, the self-isolated and the poor. Several volunteers make the masks at home and we purchase the gloves from distributors.
All these projects are used for evangelism, in cooperation with other churches. A gospel tract or a brochure is given with every gift, with our details and the opportunity for follow-up.
There are dozens of believers, and even leaders in churches or Christian associations, who were converted through receiving our literature. Every response or request for a Bible, New Testament or Christian book brings great joy to us and challenges us to continue with the ministry.
Orthodox and evangelical believers are totally different in the way they approach the Bible as an authority, as is their understanding of the need for a change of the heart, putting faith and hope in Christ alone, and in their outlook towards the lost and needy.
From time to time, we have experienced some kind of obstruction and opposition from certain Orthodox priests, if not the Orthodox Church in general. They warn the local villagers against us ‘new believers’ and discourage people from accepting our literature, and even Bibles! These are isolated cases, but they challenge us to be more persistent and faithful in our mission to bring the gospel to every home and to every person!