Stourbridge Quakers Diana and John Lampen report on a visit to Kosovo:
At the 2018 Church & Peace international Conference in the U.K., we met Faton and Kajmelina Berisha who lead the Victory Church, a small evangelical church in Gjakove, Kosovo. The evangelical churches association has recently been recognised by the Kosovo government as a legitimate religious organisation along Islam and the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches.
Victory Church was started by a small group in 2000 when the war ended, and immediately began ministering to the dispossessed, regardless of their faith. Their work was recognised by some Christian donor agencies from outside the country, who gave them resources to distribute. This won them acceptance in their community. They recently lent their church building to their Muslim neighbours to celebrate Eid, and joined in the party.
They run a dynamic youth programme in the city and surrounding villages, sharing Christian principles but open to children of every faith. They invited us to visit them in April to offer them methods of peace education and conflict resolution to include in their programme. So for four days we engaged with enthusiastic groups of youngsters aged between six and sixteen. We used games and exercises to practice the skills of communication, co-operation and mutual respect. We tried to show how these help to build win-win solutions when there is disagreement. We were astonished how often even the youngest children, with no previous experience of this way of learning, could pinpoint the significance of each game.
Kosovo is still grappling with many problems and tensions. We hope we have empowered the Victory Church Youth Team to contribute to a brighter and more harmonious future. We had great fun with them, and the best of welcomes and support.
PHOTO CAPTION: Two Roma boys act out the “Two Mules” poster.