Mirësevini në Albania (Welcome to Albania)!

Albania is a place of beauty. It has gorgeous mountains and beautiful beaches with stunning sunsets. The people are resilient, relationship-oriented, and really value family. Unfortunately, there are often better work opportunities outside of Albania which cause many Albanians to want to move, but I believe the country has so much potential… One day my teammate Hannah and I were together on the beach, with the guitar, singing praise songs. I asked God to bring us someone as we sang there. A while later, two men from Kosovo approached us, attracted by the music. One of our team leaders Caleb happened to come at the same time! We were able to hand off the two men to Caleb who talked with them while Hannah and I just kept worshipping. The men invited Caleb out to coffee and they got to talk. This time God not only brought us someone to love but he brought our only male team member to hang out with them.

Worshiping in the city square.

Despite the fun little stories and adventures, I struggled with the disparity between my expectations of effective ministry and the ministry we were engaging with. Could it actually be that God had called me to play soccer with young Albanian girls on the beach, listen to a grandma speak to us in Albanian for an hour without a clue as to the content of her words, and pray for a revival that is yet to come? Could it actually be that our God values the waiting, the in-between spaces and times, where to the world’s eyes nothing is happening? Could it be that we were called to simply plant seeds of God’s love and goodness in a nation that barely knew Him? But our team was told that God was excited for us to go on outreach, that he had big plans for us! Could it be that these big plans were helping a neighbor carry her heavy grocery bags to her home? A thought that often came to mind was, “But what else, God? What is coming?” But could it be that the Messiah, God himself, came to earth in the form of a newborn baby? Could it be that he spent his life with the ‘lowly’ in his society? Could it be that his victory came through death? I wonder how often the disciples thought ‘But what else, Jesus? What is coming?’ What if the highest calling is to love God and love others? What if ministry is actually living life with God, seeing the world the way He does, and keeping in step with the Spirit? The thought is simultaneously so simple and so profound and has implications for every Christian.  The joke on my team was that God brought us on outreach to reach out to us. That gave us a laugh but we found it to be true. He showed me once again that it’s less about what I do for Him, and more about falling in love with Him. I can’t transform the world by His love if I’m not filled and satisfied by it. I learned that ministry can simply be to love the people who God brings into our paths. I also realized that this lifestyle doesn’t stop after outreach. A challenge for me is to keep praying that prayer, “God please bring me someone to love today.”  By Lydia, student in our Fall 2021 DTS on outreach in Durres, Albania. 

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