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starting a church albanian style

Posted by Jon Maxim on

by Brian Jose

I spent a couple of hours "church planting" two days ago in Jub, a
farming village of a few thousand people, not far from the main
Albanian port of Durres, but which took about 40 minutes to get to,
being down some bumpy, dusty roads. In the Communist time, it had
four football (soccer) teams and a Culture Palace (theatre/concert
hall). All that is gone, as are most young adults, all off to Italy
to work and send money home to their families. Traffic on the main
road through the village was occasional, and mostly on four legs.
Three of the Durres leaders and I sat down at the one and only place
to get a drink -- a sort of metal shed with two plastic tables and
few chairs outside. It was the village shop.

Disciples Church in Durres has planted a church in the nearby village
of Sukth. There are now about a dozen believers there, and they have
a burden for Jub, a few kilometres up the road, where one lady is a
follower of Christ. So, they're spear-heading this work. I love
it. A young, fragile, impoverished church who meet in a dire little
concrete building with no electricity decide it's time to be church
planting. Meanwhile rich-world churches or hundreds and thousands
wonder if they can "afford" to lose the people or the income and
declare themselves not ready to church plant -- or don't even think
of it at all.

It was hot and dusty. The owner of the little shop brought out soft
drinks and beer, and sat with us. "Where are you from?" (This is
always a most important question in Albania. The answer is also not
where you're now living, but where the family heritage comes from.)
Besi, 23, from Sukth, the only "local", was quickly asked "who's your
father?". His answer got a short, sharp nod of approval and the shop-
keeper relaxed. "What's your work here?" This began a chat about
serving the community as a church, soon joined by another man who
just drove up on his moped, animatedly engaged for a while, then
left. The talk went back and forth about Christianity and Islam (the
village is roughly half Muslim), the decline of the village, poverty,
and, of course, the European football championships, now in full
swing. Arvid, the pastor from Durres, explained that we plan some
events next week, and the shopkeeper offered the wall of his metal
shed as a venue for showing some football matches and films. As we
drove out of town, the man on the moped flagged us down, "Come to my
house for a coffee!" We declined, but now the door is open for the
next visit. Is he the village "man of peace"?

"Was that good?", I asked Arvid?
"Yes, now they know we're coming", he replied. Of course, we both
knew word of this visit would spread around the town. There are few
secrets in an Albanian village.
Next week, we'll bring the video projector, distribute some food to
the poorest families, organise a few children's and youth activities,
and make a few home visits. About eight years ago a youth team from
our church in the UK did much the same thing in Sukth. They came back
tired and a bit discouraged, not able to see that they'd accomplished
much. They were wrong. The church in Sukth is now following in their


Tags: church planting, albania


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