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- Mailing Address: 24 Elmfield Road, Hyde Park, Doncaster, South Yorkshire DN1 2BA
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- Mailing Address: PO Box 5188 Wheaton, IL 60189-5188
Hope to the hopeless
“How are you?” One neighbour asked another, and in typical Albanian fashion this was just the opening to discover how this friend was. “How’s your husband, your son, your family, house, health, work, mother…” The questions go on and are exchanged for many different family members until both pairs are satisfied that everyone truly is ‘good’. This particular conversation which took place opposite the church gates here in Sukth has stuck in my mind because it proceeded like this…
“How’s your son? Is he in Italy? Is he working?”
“Yes, he’s fine he works on and off…”
“Good, good, just make sure he stays there, he shouldn’t come back here, there’s nothing for him here.”
And there it was. The Albanian mother of two young children expressing her lack of hope for her own country, for her children’s future, and in one short conversation she had summed up so many families aims, dreams, and expectations for the next generation – if you wanna make it in life, get out of Albania.
Sadly, it’s hard to disagree with people when they say these things. Before the other neighbour had come by I was discussing school with this mother and she was telling me that as soon as her children are old enough she will send them by bus to a school in Durres, knowing full-well the poor quality of their current village education but being unable to pay for anything better. Parents all over the world want the best for their children; sadly, here, the best is often not here.
A few years ago, I was teaching ESL at a private language school in Durres. This was my first real encounter with middle-upper class city kids, and having gotten used to the village kids in Sukth, it was a shock at how different they were. But they had one thing in common, a goal, to grow up and get out of Albania. When I asked them in my first lesson with them, why they wanted to learn English, the answer was simple, we want to leave Albania, and go to England, or somewhere else, anywhere else. But why? I pushed them. Here, they explained, the doctors, police, government, all the officials, even the teachers, they’re all corrupt and you can’t trust them. So, I said, what shall we do with Albania then, if you young people, the next generation all know that corruption is wrong, and yet instead of changing it, or fighting it, you run from it? Shall we cross Albania off the map as if it’s no good? Shall we declare, ‘There’s no hope here’?
How do we as a church bring hope to this nation? How do we teach hope to the next generation who are thinking about their life goals, who are dreaming of their future and are planning their way out of here? How do you challenge the believers to see the gospel as their saving hope for their souls but also for their nation?
These are the questions we live to find answers for, we want to show the people here in Sukth, that there is a peace that surpasses all understanding, there is salvation for those who are lost, and that there is a hope even for the hopeless.