Bringing the Text to Life

When the Church Said Yes to Ethnic Cleansing Mark 8:31-38

We lose our way if we look for direction from presidents and political parties and popular nationalist agendas. For Christians, the only compass is the cross.

The scene is Caesarea Philippi, a small town in the Galilean hill country bearing an imperial name. The time is A.D. 30 something. Speaking to a crowd that could have included Roman soldiers, Jesus, an apparent neer-do-well, itinerant rabble-rouser, said: "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me" (Mark 8:34). Never had someone raised the bar so high. Fast forward 2,000 years to Kosovo of former Yugoslavia. Milan Ljubojevic, a 29-year-old Serbian carpenter knows trouble is coming. He had served in the Yugoslav army in the early 1990s. Now he is a waiter in a small town near the Hungarian border. All he wants from life is to marry his girlfriend, Irisa, and settle down. He lists Irisa's residence as his own. That's where he knows they will come knocking--the Serbian police. And they do. In an operation known slyly by the Serbs as "Please Mobilization" (as in, "Please come, now!") they demand that Milan report for mandatory...

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