Where there is no Church of Christ: Believer baptized in Montenegro
Jo Byrd-Huddleston, a church member in Arkansas, used the popular Internet chat program to commune with Marsida Bobaj, a recently baptized believer in Montenegro — a nation in Central Europe with 624,000 souls and no known Churches of Christ.
“I felt so sad that she didn’t have anyone to partake with that I suggested we do that,” Byrd-Huddleston said. “Neither Marsida nor I had webcams. We did it by typing Scriptures, praying together, then partaking and typing about it back and forth.”
Montenegro was part of Yugoslavia during the Cold War. In the 1990s, the region was plunged into the Balkan conflict. After that war, Serbia and Montenegro formed a new nation. In 2006, Montenegrins voted to leave that union and become independent.
About 10 percent of Montenegrins are of Albanian descent, said Bledi Valca, minister for a Church of Christ in Tirana, Albania. Many come from a Catholic background, and few identify themselves as “evangelical Christians,” according to a recent census.
Bobaj’s father, Gjovalin, moved to Montenegro from Albania.
He had studied the Bible through World English Institute, a church-supported ministry with offices in Oregon and Tennessee.
When Marsida Bobaj decided to study English, her father recommended World English Institute. The ministry paired the young woman with Byrd-Huddleston.
After studying English using Scriptures, Marsida Bobaj asked to be baptized. Her parents gave their blessing. Tom Bonner, a missionary in Lushnja, Albania, drove Valca and his wife, Valbona, to meet the family in Tuzi, Montenegro.
Valca — who also became a Christian through World English Institute — baptized Marsida Bobaj in the Cen River on July 19. The baptism was a birthday present for Byrd-Huddleston, who was born on July 19.
“I received an e-mail … where Marsida told me she is praying for people who live in dangerous areas of the world, who are students of WEI like her and who want to be baptized, that they will have the courage,” Byrd-Huddleston said. “She’s a remarkable, intelligent, talented teenager.”
Recently, the two Christians shared communion again — no Skype required — in Montenegro’s capital, Podgorica. Byrd-Huddleston traveled there with Ellen Walker, a missionary in Albania, and two Albanian Christians. The group worshiped in a hotel room.
“It was so good for everyone,” Walker said. “The guys and I got to serve, Jo and Marsida got to visit and hug face-to-face, and Marsida’s mom got to see firsthand what Christian love is.”
The people of Montenegro were kind and courteous, Byrd-Huddleston said.
“A campaign would be well-received in Podgorica, I believe,” she added.
FOR MORE INFORMATION on World English Institute, see www.weiady.org.
FeedbackGreetings Brothers and Sisters:
I am formerly a member of the Woodbridge, Virginia congregation of the church of Christ, but moved away to Missouri in 2010. I am now a member of the church of Christ that meets on Chipman Road, in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. I will be visiting Montenegro in just a few days: July
11-22, 2011. If Ms. Bobaj is still living in Montenegro and would like to get together for worship, please let her know to contact me. (I cannot find a congregation there.) My phone number will be the same before and after I make it to Montenegro: 1-417-844-0256, but I won’t have acces to email. I would love to hear from Ms. Bobaj any time!
In Christ, Ms. Patty CummingsPatty Cummingschurch of Christ on Chipman RoadLee’s Summit, Missouri
USAJuly, 6 2011