After the fall of the Roman Empire to Germanic tribes around 400 AD, Macedonia came under the control of many other nations and people groups. The Ottoman Empire (Turkish Muslims) controlled Macedonia for 500 years until they were driven out during the Balkans War (1912-1913). The Axis powers occupied Macedonia during World War II, but were pushed out by Communist forces, which claimed Macedonia as part of a unified Yugoslavia under the rule of Josip Broz Tito. In November 1991, eleven years after Tito's death, Macedonia declared independence from Yugoslavia.
Christianity reached Macedonia in the early years of the Church thanks to the Apostle Paul. However, after centuries of war and political change, many other religions crept in. Most Macedonians, who identify themselves as ethnic Slavs, belong to the Macedonian Orthodox Church. About 20 percent of Macedonia's population are ethnic Albanians, and they are mostly Muslim. Only three percent claim to belong to other religions.
The Movement Today
The volatile mixture of ethnicities and religions in Macedonia makes Pentecostal evangelism difficult and, at times, dangerous. During the 1999 Kosovo Crisis however, Assemblies of God personnel ministered to hundreds of thousands of Kosovar refugees. Also, during the more recent Syrian refugee crisis, AGWM personnel ministered to over 1 million displaced people. In the continuing unstable political and social environment, many Macedonians are beginning to respond to the gospel message and the hope that only Christ brings. AGWM missionaries in Macedonia are assisting the spread of the Gospel in church planting, children’s ministries (including Royal Rangers) and leadership training. They report the following statistics: 23 ministers, 28 churches and outstations, and about 1,300 Pentecostal believers.
Additional Facts About Macedonia
- Capital: Skopje
- Area: 9,779 square miles
- Population: 2.1 million
- Urbanization: 59%
- Languages: Macedonian (official, 68 percent), Albanian (official, 23 percent), Turkish (three percent), Serbo-Croatian (three percent), and others (three percent)
- Ethnic Groups: Macedonian, Albanian, Turkish, Roma, and Serb
- Agriculture: Grains, tobacco, corn, cotton, sesame, mulberry leaves, citrus, and vegetables
- Industry: Coal, metallic chromium, lead, zinc, ferronickel, textiles, wood products, food processing, and buses.