Albania Update

Hello from Albania! Team America has been at English Camp on the beaches of Vlore since Monday, and we all agree that it is a privilege to serve alongside the Cru team in this outreach ministry to college students. I just escaped Albania Night for a few minutes so I can tell you what is happening on this side of the world.

We have four classes of fairly proficient English speakers from the University in Tirana, so several of us have had to increase the level of our lessons significantly. Beyond teaching article adjectives, contractions, and conjunctions, we are playing lots of games and having deep discussions about God.

On Monday we had the students fill out a form which identifies their worldview. On Tuesday we read through Genesis 1 in order to discuss creation based on our worldview and theirs. Today we went over to Genesis 3 where they learned about sin and separation from God from a Biblical perspective. This led to many thoughtful questions, which we continued in the afternoon by taking individual students to “coffee” (a generic term describing a time of socializing with friends). We, of course, do this in order to know the students on a more personal level with the hope of sharing the Gospel and them making a decision to follow Jesus.

On Tuesday night, we hosted America Night. We attempted to explain the great diversity that exists in our country through a skit, team games, dancing, and a few boring statistics (Darin’s words…not mine). The kids ate brownies and ice cream, enjoyed our photo booth, and went away with their very own American T-shirt. The one thing that surprised us all is that none of them had every played BINGO. They are a very competitive group, so you can imagine how serious they took this game!

And now for some hi-lights from team members about the exciting things God has done thus far:

Jim~ “The students in our discussion group have really enjoyed and engaged in the Bible topics. My student helper and I met with two students. One has begun to understand what it means to be a true Christian, while the second desires to know who God is. She said she would study the Bible so she can hear from God.”

Pam~ “I had an amazing conversation with a girl who has never heard anything about the Bible. Both of her parents have a Communist background, so they never talked about God in her family. I was able to share a clear presentation of the Gospel with her, but she said it will take time to process. At this time she believes there is a God, so I explained His promise that if she seeks, she will find Him. I also encouraged her to get involved with Jetmira, one of the Cru staff, in order to navigate all of this new information.”

Zoya~ “I had a good conversation with a young man who said that he believes in God. I shared my testimony with him, and he has many questions about God. I am going to give him a devotional so he can read every day and know God more. I also talked with another student who believes in God, but he wants to have a more personal relationship with Him.”

Darin~ “I have liked everything about this mission trip so far. I’ve enjoyed getting to know the kids and the culture, and I am realizing that missionaries work really hard! One of the students I’ve talked to about God is receptive to hearing the Gospel and my beliefs, and is open to share the differences with his beliefs. I was able to share my testimony for the first time since being here, and we were able to connect over that. He is interested in learning more, so I hope to have more one-on-one time with him before we leave.”

Rick~ “I had good discussions with two students and was pleasantly surprised with the interest one of them showed. When the other left he said, ‘I need to go think.’ Hopefully that is a sign that God is working on his heart.”

Ashley~ “I have had promising conversations with two boys who believe in God but have misconceptions about who He is. Their main struggle is with the question of suffering. As they ask very good questions, I have had to take a step back and really think about how best to articulate a clearly defined response. I believe that God is working through these discussions to address their concerns, but in doing so, to continually redirect them back to the cross where it all make sense. I hope to continue these conversations and pray that both will develop a personal relationship with Jesus.” 

Kelly~ “After class, I was able to get into a good conversation with one of my students who believes in God but doesn’t understand forgiveness. I am hoping to have ‘coffee’ with her tomorrow to continue our discussion. I also spoke for several hours with a young lady who has a worldview unlike anything I’ve ever heard. She is highly intelligent and has created a theory based on an algorithm in our brains which enables us to function in this world. She is very curious and allowed me to explain my beliefs. She also asked many questions and left the conversation saying that she would continue to learn about Christianity, though she really likes what she believes.”

Lucy and Charles~ “The students in our class acknowledge God in one way or another. We have one that has been influenced heavily by Islam, so he doesn’t believe in the Trinity or that Jesus is God. We also have one that leans very much toward Pantheism, believing that ‘everything’ is God. Another approaches this topic from a philosophical and intellectual mindset. He has quoted Nietzsche, and yet is not an atheist. A couple are medical students who are looking for a way to reconcile ‘science’ with Christianity. None are Atheist. None are hostile. All are actively and eagerly asking questions and re-evaluating their worldviews in light of the Gospel.”

Blessings and love from all of us!