(This article just appeared on Move Further)
In 1999 I stood in the midst of an unusual cemetery. It was a collection of bodies that were not buried but rather stacked in rows on a field, with police tape surrounding the area. These bodies were to be used as evidence in a United Nations investigation of Serb atrocities against Kosovars. The sad thing was that these atrocities had been committed in the name of Serb nationalism… and in the name of Christ.
For a people like the Kosovars religion is more than a belief system but also a political identity. As missionaries endeavor to work in Kosovo they are faced with a historical problem: the Serbs fought against the Kosovars in the name of Christ. How does one overcome this distorted view of Christ?
That same year two young Kosovar men who became followers of Christ soon after they had arrived in Bosnia as refugees. What made them take this leap of faith into cultural suicide? Was it a film, or brochure, a book, or a snazzy gospel presentation? No, it was none of those things. It was a couple of missionaries who regularly visited the refugee camp, played sports with the young men there, and invited them into their homes. It was, in a word, love working its way into their hearts through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is hard for us to show love without “being there.” From Afghanistan to Zaire we live in a world where violence opens the gap between love and hate so plainly that real love is a stark contrast to the reality of war.
As Muslim troops spread toward the heart of Europe in the 1300s, a key battle was held in Kosovo. The Serbs held their ground against incredible odds but in the end, lost to the invaders. Just as Americans might say, “Remember the Alamo,” the Serbs would say, “Remember Kosovo.” Conversely, many a Muslim has told me to “Remember the Crusades.” On February 17th, 2008, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia. What do I think of this latest development? I realize it’s an important step politically for this emerging nation. Yet, the real battle is for men’s hearts. It’s not remembering the things that have been done to our people, but remembering what Christ has done for us that is so much more important.
Remember the Cross.