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Gypsy Tent in Leskovac

In the heart of Leskovac, Serbia resides a group of Gypsy believers, who meet every single week to worship God and hear the preaching of His Word. Except they don’t have the luxury of meeting inside a building as we do. They meet inside a large tent, which has been torn and ripped by the harshness of the weather. Yet they are blessed to call it “church.”

Rev. Slobodan Krstevski with Pastor Selim Alijevic

Within the town of Leskovac (population 70,000), there are about 8-10 thousand Gypsies, and there has not been one Gypsy home that hasn’t been touched by this local church. “Every house has at least one family member who was or still is coming to this church,” says Pastor Selim Alijevich, senior pastor of the church. “The Gypsy people are very poor people, but they’re very rich in the Lord.”

A tent was paid for and built by some Gypsy people in France, who only anticipated the tent’s lifespan would be about a year. But since the people had no other place to worship, they stayed in the tent for four years. Now the condition of the tent isn’t well and they desperately need funds to build an extension to their church building in order to hold their congregation of 1,000 people on a weekly basis. “When it rains during service, many people get wet because the tent is giving up,” Selim says. “We hope to be able to extend the building by winter so that this winter we can worship inside instead of in the tent.”

Though they have a congregation of one thousand people, their finances aren’t well enough to expand the work of God without our help. “Our church people are giving to the church, but they don’t have much to give,” Selim says. There is over 80% unemployment within the area. Most of the local factories have closed leaving many of them out of work. Some have tried working in markets but still find it a struggle to survive.

Yet, these people have a great desire for evangelism. “Our heart is to open another church, and we need prayer for God to lead us on how to do that,” Selim says There are currently several young men within the Gypsy church who feel the call of God to go out and plant other churches within the area. But the only thing that’s stopping them is the lack of funds. “We are trusting the Lord because we know He’ll provide what we need for the boys to go out and do God’s work. Are you able to help out one or more church planters?

The people within the church also need wood to warm themselves, food for their families, and flour to bake bread. Pastor Selim shares in those needs just the same. “When winter comes, it’s very cold,” Selim says. “We all try to find work to buy wood in the summer so that we would have it in the winter.” Are you able to help out one or more families this winter?

The church also needs a better van for Pastor Selim to travel to different towns and evangelize. “The van we have isn’t good anymore,” Selim says. They also use the van to bring people from all across the community to church. Could you help out with the purchase of the van it would provide a new evangelism vehicle for Pastor Selim?

Children from the Gypsy church meet for their service each Sunday afternoon

Over the years, SLM has had the privilege of visiting Pastor Selim and his church several times. Rev. Krstevski has been impressed with how the hand of God is moving in Selim’s life and his ministry. Their worship is dynamic welcoming the presence of God into their midst every single week. There is such a sweet spirit within this church

The Gypsy people are very thankful for all the humanitarian aid that SLM has provided for them. Not only that, but they are blessed and encouraged by the word that Rev. Krstevski delivers as well. “The people don’t just come for humanitarian aid; they come looking for the Word,” Selim says. “Many people I’ve talked to said, ‘I’m here for Slobodan – to learn something from him!’”

Pastor Selim extends a request for prayer from the believers in North America. “Please pray for the economic situation here that the Gypsy people will find work so they can survive,” he says. “Also, if there’s anything anyone can do to help us, we would be really thankful.” Are you able to help out one or more families at this time?