More Dangerous than Persecution
I had the pleasure of sitting with one of our translators named Kuma, while sitting on the bus one day to head over to a city to evangelize. She is such a wonderful lady that I love already, and I think you will love her too when you read her story and hear her words.
Kuma became a believer at age 15. In Kosova, one must pay a high price to be a believer because of the honor-shame culture, the collectivism and the deep Islamic traditions. Families all live together and make decisions in groups. Many believers even keep it a secret from others that they believe in Jesus, and don’t open up about it for years.
Her family disowned her.
At first, they thought it was a phase, and she’d get over it eventually. But when they realized that she believed, and was still believing, her father took her to an Imam at the Mosque, thinking: “They can talk sense into her.” Kuma was willing to go, since she knew and had read 80 percent of the Quran. In discussion, she realized that the Imam didn’t even know everything that was in the Quran, and they argued about it. Kuma’s father told her: “How could you be so disrespectful?!” But Kuma said: “I did what you wanted. I spoke with the Imam.”
After a while, Kuma was disowned by the family.
She had to leave their home. Kuma got her own place, and was brought into the welcoming arms of her church in Suhareke. Since then, they are the ones who have been her family.
“I don’t understand when people ‘church hop’”, Kuma was saying to me later as we sat at a small round table outside a café. “Because for me, the church in Suhareke really became my family, and they were there through all of my hard times in my twenties. I had very hard years in my twenties.” We continued discussing how even when you don’t get along with church family, it doesn’t necessarily mean you immediately leave, but that you begin to work it out, like a family.
She and I were able to end our second visit together over coffee giving each other much encouragement about the power of prayer, scripture, and the giftings we have. I very much enjoyed my time with her, and it made me realize that we need to become better as a Church staying in contact with our brothers and sisters in Christ regularly, that we work alongside with in short term missions. They need to hear from us and us from them.
Kuma hasn’t spoken to members of her family in years, until only recently, when some of her siblings reached out. Now she is in contact with a few of them.
She said many things to me, including some quotes I’ve already shared, that I want to remember. “For me, I think it would be worse to continue to live in sin and temptation every day than to go through persecution.” She said as we rode on the bus the first time we met. “I think it is more dangerous to face daily sins and temptations than it is to go through persecution.” Those words cut straight to my heart. I asked Kuma: “It seems like here in Kosovo it is very difficult and you pay a high price to confess Jesus to your family…what do you think gave you the courage to tell your family?” She said with a laugh “My personality.” But she also said: “I’d rather follow Jesus openly than have to hide it the whole time.”
I asked Kuma to share what she would want future readers of her story to know. “I am blessed to go through sufferings for Christ…I don’t know why I’ve gone through sufferings, but God has a reason for it. I am part of the greatest thing that God has done for us, and that is saving us.”
Today she serves the Church on weekly evangelism teams, and receives much support and encouragement from her church family.
I am inspired by the testimony of Kuma, and many of the members of the Church here in Kosovo. Many of them all have the same stories, of persecution or nearly losing their life. I’ve walked away from this summer really wishing believers in the United States could know the brothers and sisters in Christ I’ve met here. Our very spiritually dry Western world needs to know these stories, this courage, and this faith that Kuma and others have here. We must imitate their example.
“Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.”
Philippians 3:17 (ESV)
– Roma Osborne, Ten2 2021 Participant & Storyteller