Bible Society, West Balkan Partnership, Bible projects, Albania, Macedonia, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Bible translation

May 27, 2018

“Grace” WBP Conference in Ohrid

Many people know something about the Balkans, but few understand the history behind this region. Our countries of the West Balkans, are continuing to struggle because of the past and because the tension between different religions and ethnicity.

The WBP is trying to play its role to witness the message of the Bible and help people overcome their prejudice and hatred for others. We believe this is the best way to advocate the Word of God in our generation. Through promoting and sharing the Word of God we believe that lives will continue to be transformed and difficulties and separations overcome. This is why we work very hard to bring people together in different WBP Conferences so that by meeting each-other and discussing about God’s Word, by praying and worshipping together it will make the difference in our society.

For the fourth time we organized a sport based conference in Ohrid. There were more than 110 participants. The main theme of the meeting was “Grace”. Each day we sat together, we read the Bible in all different languages represented, we prayed and we worshipped together. The main speakers were Pastor Zefjan Nikolla from Albania, Coordinator Gjoko Gjorgjevski from Macedonia and father Miroslav Invanovic from Serbia. All the main sessions served to share about three main topics: Grace disputed, Grace for all and grace lived out. It was very encouraging how the main speakers shared the Gospel and tried to teach the participants that through the grace of God we are all saved, it is for everyone and bares fruits into our lives. It was quite interesting how father Miroslav closed his speech with the quotation and challenge from one of the church fathers who once said that the Christians will unite only when they go back to the catacombs. After the main sessions in the morning, the meeting would continue with sport tournaments of futsal and volleyball.

“We are having such a great time. It is nice and it is a blessing to be gathered here and meet a lot of Christians from different countries in the Balkans.” – says Rexhina Vlashi, a young lady involved with the worship team of her church in Tirana and who attended for the first time a WBP conference. – “It is great to see that Christians worship God in different manners. We are all here together to give glory to God.”

Stefan Maric, a student in the Orthodox Theology Faculty of Belgrade says that: – “Here we feel closer to God. I hope I will change the mindset of people back in my country and there will be a better place for us.”

“I think there is much more than football that is happening here. What is happening here is something that politicians and actually even churches can not do.” – Says Pastor Zefjan Nikolli leader of the student movement in Albania, – “the way it is organized, the countries that are represented here, the spirit in which people and teams come, this is just perfect. So I just praise God for everything that has happened.”

“It is so clear that when everyone comes together to play these matches with each other all the differences that they have, any barrier that you might imagine existing, they just disappear.” – says Chris Dale UBS Facilitator.
Egli Tollaku, a youth pastor from Tirana says: – “Being together, teaching together from the same source which is the Word of God, and teaching about the topics that we love and that we all believe that are true, has been a unique experience for me.”

“I see God’s grace there and I see how Jesus brings together people in Love.” – Says Nermin Begovic from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

At the end of the event the wining team of the fotsal tournament was Cesni Otsi from Macedonia and the wining team of the volleyball tournament was the BSKSH team from Albania. After the ceremony we all celebrated with a multicultural evening with different songs and dancing from Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia and Albania.

Pastor Zef, as now everyone in the conference calls him, closes his interview with this words: – “This tournament has become something recognized by different people and different churches from the Balkans. It has become one of those events that we look very much forward to it.”