Ethnic divisions dominate politics and society. The large Albanian population feels more connected with Albania and Kosovo than with other groups in North Macedonia.
Nearby Greece, Bulgaria, and Serbia each have plans for North Macedonia. Economic struggles lead many to leave the country, or to migrate to cities. Many of the 2,000 villages have disappeared. Pray for wisdom for the government and pray that divided communities might find ways to build their nation together.
The Macedonian Orthodox Church claims to represent almost two-thirds of the population, but more than 1,000 churches remain largely empty, and most Macedonians are secular and unreligious in practice. The North Macedonian government effectively endorsed this Church’s hegemony by imprisoning the local bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church, from which the Macedonian Orthodox illegitimately split. The Orthodox Church sometimes opposes new religious expressions such as evangelicalism, but dialogue is increasing. Pray for new life to touch this Church and all those who belong to it.
The evangelical witness is small but growing. Almost every Protestant/Independent expression of faith is active and increasing. Even so, there are fewer than 100 evangelical congregations. Pray for the many challenges of and opportunities for the Church.
The ethnic minorities are numerous, and all need ministry.
Albanians represent 25% of North Macedonia’s population, and their numbers are rapidly increasing through birth rates and immigration. Greater tensions between Albanians – with their demands for increasing political influence – and the majority of North Macedonians seem inevitable, but neither group desires the upheaval suffered in neighbouring Kosovo. Almost all North Macedonian Albanians are unevangelized Muslims, but there is an openness to loving witness. Thus far, there are no groups of Christians from a Macedonian Albanian background.
The Romani population is chronically poor, oppressed, uneducated, unemployed and captive to a blend of Islam and folk superstitions. Sutka, near Skopje, is home to many of North Macedonia’s 80,000 Romani and is one of the largest Romani communities in the world. YWAM, Pioneers, the Methodists, Pentecostals and Baptists are all seeing fruit among the Romani.
The Turkish community lives mainly in eastern North Macedonia. There are a handful of believers, but no evangelical church among them. A few groups are now engaged in outreach to them.
From Operation World, 7th Edition, by Jason Mandryk. Copyright (c) 2010 by Jason Mandryk. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, USA. www.ivpress.com