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After two decades worshiping in a tent, the pioneer Roma church in Serbia built its own temple

“Our reputation among the non-Roma people is very recognisable in a good way”, says Pastor Selim Alijevic. Before having a building, the church helped start two dozens of other congregations.

AUTOR 7/Joel_Forster Leskovac 08 DE JUNIO DE 2023 12:00 h
On 26 May, the Temple for All Nations in Serbia inaugurated its first building. / All photos via S. Petrovski.

A large white building is the new home of the first Roma Christian church Serbia, and the celebrations have been big.



For 22 years, the Temple For All Nations gathered in a tent. “Imagine what it was like when you had a service in winter, how cold it was; and in the summer, it was indescribable”, Pastor Selim Alijevic tells Evangelical Focus. “You just have to experience that bathing in sweat”.





[photo_footer] Selim Alijevic (left), pastor of the Temple For All Nations, the day of the inauguration of the church building. [/photo_footer] 


But not only the weather conditions were an issue. The need for rooms to work with children, young people, and the desire to have better spaces to offer theological training was also on the heart of the pastor.



On 26 May, the great day arrived in the city of Leskoac, in the south of Serbia. A large group of musicians, a packed church with many guests, everything was ready to inaugurate a building project that seemed impossible some years ago.





[photo_footer] Facade of the new temple. [/photo_footer] 


A church planting church



After 1986, Alijevic and others have worked to reach to Roma people in their country and plant news communities. “All who now lead a Roma church in Serbia were involved at some point in the work of our church”, he says.





[photo_footer] Musical worship on 26 May at the Temple For All Nations.  [/photo_footer] 


In 1993, a revival happened. “The church was fully awakened. People saw a lot of works and miracles that God did, we prayed and the Lord healed people: a man got up from the wheelchair, tumors and cancer were healed, doctors said it was as if God himself had done a miracle. We experienced many other things with the Lord”, Salim recalls.



Most Roma people who joined the church over the year “converted from Islam to Christianity”.



 



The time to build



Finally, the finances made it possible to build. Selim is aware that this step is “thanks to God” and “our believers who gave contributions”, but also “brothers in the rest of Serbia and outside our country”.



The tent will always be a “special” memory in the congregation’s history, but they are now ready to enjoy their beautiful church building. 



 



How Roma are perceived



The construction might be just one example of how things have changed among the Roma people. Serbians in general have changed their views about them. “We are no longer the Roma we used to be, who fought, drank, liked to fight. People’s lives have changed. Our reputation among the non-Roma people is very recognizable in a good way”, the pastor explains.



He has good personal contacts with the authorities. “The police themselves say that they have fewer problems with Roma now than before the conversions”.





[photo_footer]   First Serbian Roma Church, reads a sign at the entrance. [/photo_footer]



We ask Selim if there is a request he would like to share with other believers in Europe. “Yes, the yard has not been tidied up and there is a lot of mud. We also haven’t installed heating for the winter yet. I would like to find people who can help our church financially”. As in the past, they are grateful to see God’s provision.



The President of the Serbian Evangelical Alliance was among the many guests at the inauguration service. Samuil Petrovski described it as “a historic day” for Christian in the country, and defined the project as a “miracle”.



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