The last two weeks I ‘ve made my first trip as CHE-coordinator. We visited teams and their projects in three different countries on the Balkans: in Serbia, in North-Macedonia and in Kosovo.
As coordinator it is my job to keep oversight over the teams, to preserve the connection between the different teams, to help them organize trainings and also support them in finding financial partners. In the last ten years we have ourselves experienced how crucial it is in this kind of ministry to be part of network and to have people around you who go through the same things and who encourage you.
It was a great experience to see the teams in different countries in action and to visit their communities! In North-Macedonia for example the CHE team has helped in two Roma villages to make a clean water supply, after the community had indicated that this was their greatest need. The water that they drank up till them was in fact dirty irrigation water, that made many people sick. It was very special to see the joy and pride in their eyes as they had managed to realize this project. A next step is to tackle the problem of litter lying around everywhere, in order to make their community cleaner and more liveable. Focus in all this is that we don’t do things for the people that they can do themselves. The responsibility for improving their lives is their own.
In Kosovo there were problems of a total different kind. There the material poverty is not the first concern, but the spiritual one. In the communities the CHE team there is working the majority of the population has a muslim background. This clearly puts its mark on entire society, for example in the minarets, that send out their call for prayer throughout the day; or in the disadvantaged position of women in general. But also in the intolerance and discrimination towards everybody who is not muslim.
I suddenly thought of what it would mean if a CHE team started working in Holland, or any Western country. What kind of poverty would be focussed on there? I recently started reading the book ‘Walking with the poor’ again from Bryant Myers, that poses that in the sight of God all people are poor and need recovery of their lives through the grace of Jesus. Whether it ’s spiritual, material, emotional or relational. This helps to look differently at poverty and do mission ministry: we only share from what we have received from God ourselves.