MEET BAILEE FORD: she felt the urge to go, traveled a country she knew little about, and learned the value of a story.
What led you to want to go to Kosovo?
Our school sponsored 5 different mission trips for this school year and advertised them at a school wide chapel service. I honestly just applied for one because I felt like I needed to get out of Nashville and see other places and people. I hadn’t even heard of Kosova before I was placed on this team, but when I started learning more about their history with Christianity and the war, I was interested in seeing these things and communicating with these people in person.
What fears or hesitations did you have about going on your first mission trip, and how did the Lord help you overcome them?
My biggest fear about our trip was the fact that we had no clue what we were going to do before we left the US. Kosova doesn’t live on a schedule as much as we do in America, so it was very frustrating for all of us to be so excited about this new adventure but to have no clue what to expect or how to prepare. God gave me some pretty great team members to help me through it. I go to a very small college, but I probably spoke to these 6 individuals more in the weeks leading up to (and during) the trip than I ever have while at school. We were really able to lean on each other throughout our fears and join in on each others’ excitement, and by the time we boarded the plane to Kosova, I felt like I was already part of a little family.
What did you do while you were in Kosovo?
Most of our time in Kosova was spent with local believers, listening to their testimonies and learning about how the war with Serbia affected them and their faith specifically. We did a lot of sight-seeing to visit churches and monuments that were influential in the fight for independence. We also spent some time helping with English classes that the church provides for Albanian-speaking kids in the community. We sang “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” maybe a million times while they were reviewing parts of the body and even learned a few words in Albanian. We took a few trips to the Roma village of Fushe Kosove where we played games with the kids, performed a Bible skit, and gave them some snacks and extra love before they headed off to school for the day. These kids are especially at risk and overall just need constant positive influences in their lives and someone to ensure they are getting along okay. There are some cultural differences and feelings that cause the Roma community to be treated differently among other people in Kosova, so it was important for us to love on this community that has been ostracized by many others.
How did going and serving in a country that has a very small Christian population affect your view of Christianity and the importance of international missions?
Even though the number of Christians in Kosova is really small, it amazed me just how much they all stuck together, despite their different denominations and locations. They make an effort to band together and make every day a sort of “revival” season because they desperately need to act this way. They can’t afford to just wait around. They feel the need to desperately tell everyone just how great God is and why Christianity is so wonderful. From a missions stand point, it really opened my eyes to how much many churches in the US take for granted that we are allowed to worship and have people that want to worship with us. We don’t have to feel as desperate about our faith as they do, but that’s sometimes needed. I honestly have never felt God as much as I did in Kosova, and I feel like it has to do with their desperation to worship and spread the gospel. It has made me reevaluate where I stand in my faith and how I profess it.
If you could tell the world one thing about serving internationally,
what would you say?
I most want to share that missions isn’t always what you think it’s going to be. You aren’t always doing services projects and professing the gospel. That doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t needed. We heard so many testimonies and gave many believers the opportunity to share pain that they haven’t expressed in years. Most importantly, we get to go home and share these stories with others and educate them on the history of Kosova. Sometimes mission work just means being able to share the stories to the people that need to hear it. Everyone I have talked to since being home has related to some part of a testimony I shared from my trip. It may not always feel like you’re making an impact at the time, but you are placed there for a reason and will find a way to share the experience with others.