Yugoslavia: Divided by distrust

Kosovo's evangelicals take slow steps toward ethnic reconciliation

For the last two years, ethnic Albanian Pentecostal pastors Driton and Artur Krasniqi—along with a military escort—have taken care packages to an isolated village of Serbs. But so far the escort, which accompanies them from Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, the disputed southern region of Serbia, has hardly been needed.

"We have met no negative Serbs," Artur Krasniqi told Christianity Today. "In some of the places, we were more welcome than in [ethnic] Albanian schools. Some ice melted, and when we expected stones, they gave us smiles."

The Krasniqi brothers are pastors of the Lord's Fellowship Church and part of Kosovo's emerging evangelical movement, which has blossomed amid the 38,000 peacekeeping troops stationed in the region since the 1999 military campaign toppled the Slobodan Milosevic regime in Belgrade.

Lost chance for peace


With a population of 2.2 million, Kosovo is in legal limbo and as divided as ever. Of the 280,000 Serbs who lived there when NATO bombing began in 1999, only 80,000 remain. Today, Kosovo is 95 percent ethnic Albanian and mostly Muslim. The tensions due to ethnic cleansing in Kosovo in the late 1990s remain strong. Mutual suspicion and hostility are common in part because of ongoing prosecution of war crimes.

The United Nations governs Kosovo according to Security Council Resolution 1244, which says Kosovo is an autonomous province in Yugoslavia (composed of Serbia and Montenegro). The Security Council hopes to resolve Kosovo's status but has set no timetable.

Still, hope for independence from Yugoslavia remains strong, even among Kosovar evangelicals. Driton Krasniqi speaks of Kosova (the word ethnic Albanians use when speaking of the region) as an independent nation. "The Serbs must see the new realities," ...

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Yugoslavia: Divided by distrust
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February 2003

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