Are you a qualified social worker with specialization in supporting women, unemployed men or youth at risk? Did you have empathy to work with vulnerable or marginalised individuals over time, with a strengths based approach to recognized value and build capacity? Do you have the heart and grit see isolated and unreached communities reached with the eternal hope of the Gospel?
North Macedonia is situated in the heart of the Balkan Peninsula in southeastern Europe. It is a country roughly divided between an Orthodox majority of ethnic Slavic speaking Macedonians and a large Muslim background minority of Albanians (also Turks, Bosnians and Roma.). In one way, North Macedonia is a socially warm, colourful and exotic environment with sun-baked mountains, rivers and gorges. It is a crossroad between East and West, where Belgrade and Beirut seem to meet in one city. At the same time, the country is marked by its history, and a legacy of ethnic tension and parallel existence of two communities. Perhaps even more felt today is the common experience of all people in the country: economic depression, wide-spread unemployment and stagnation – particularly following the impact of Covid 19.
Spiritually, all ethnicities are largely lost in religious traditions. Ethnic identity is felt to determine ones religious affiliation. Amongst the Albanians, there is not one established church in the entire country. Islam functions as a cultural preservative against assimilation with the Macedonians, whose cross and icons are more symbols of ethnic exclusion than inclusion for Albanians. Miroslav Volf´s comments on the missional task in the former Yugoslavia are relevant here: “We do not start at zero…”
Nonetheless, a series of disasters have created an open door among this unreached community of 700,000 Albanians. The European Refugee Crisis, floods, earthquakes and more recently the COVID-19 pandemic, have created a unique corridor of opportunity of access deep into the heart of this closed community – many of whom feel they have been forgotten. This is especially so with vulnerable women who suffer gender inequality in terms of human value. Holistic mission, starting with joining that community, being a healing presence and working from the outside in towards worldview in a context of trust is the trail we are blazing – touching lives now and making a road the Gospel for eternity.
We are looking for experienced social workers, preferably with graduate qualifications, to come alongside men, women and youth who are unemployed, economically vulnerable, at risk due to violence, abuse or drug use and trapped in a shame-based cultural context. Valuing people made in the image of God, each with their own dignity and contribution of God-given talents and abilities is a key requirement. This role will require engagement in community outreach, facilitating assets-based development, walking with people through time with issues, supporting life-skills training and group work. The context is also one of ethnic reconciliation, so cultural adaptation, local language acquisition and peace-making skills are also requirements.
Personal and Spiritual:
This is where we are now. Do you feel like North Macedonia is calling you? If you want to explore this possibility and talk some more, please contact us.