Monday, October 18, 2010
Tuesday, August 03, 2010
Well it’s all over. It has been a wild three and a half weeks back in Albania and it feels like we never left. We have just finished up our JV summer ministries. We did two camps this year, and the Lord did many great things through both of them.
Our first camp that we did was done along side a church plant that we have been involved in. It is in a suburb of Tirana called Babrru. There are about 70,000 people there, and there has never been a church there before. It’s a dark corner of the city.
This camp was a second annual camp with this group of students. Last summer we did a non-residential day camp then spent the year following up with these students through soccer and an English club (run by our national JV teammate, Majlinda).
This year a team from Grace Church of DuPage came again to help run another JV English camp with students from Babrru. This is the second year that Grace Church of DuPage has come to work with the Babrru church plant and 7th year that they have sent a team to Albania to do evangelistic camps.
Instead of doing a non-residential camp, we decided to try and do a residential camp about three hours away from home in a city called Pogradec in the southeastern part of Albania on the Macedonian border.
After spending the first few days before camp meeting with students and going to their homes and asking for permission from their parents, we headed off to Pogradec for our second annual camp with these students.
The theme for camps this summer was Redeem and we told stories of redemption from the Old & New Testaments followed by small groups. You have to keep in mind that most of these students know very little about the bible and Jesus Christ. After telling the story of Nicodemus and the woman at the well comments from students were things like “where can I get this living water for myself?” and “I really want to believe in this Jesus - I just need more time to process it all.” For many Albanians to become believers in Jesus means that they may shame the family name and lose their identity. These are the things that students think about when asked to repent and believe.
As a result of this camp, we will be starting a youth ministry that, Lord willing, will become a local church one day. Although no students repented at camp, we are confident that through follow-up and more interaction and conversation with these students we will see them come to know Christ as the LORD of their life.
Pray with us as we start this new youth ministry that God will save these students and that this dark corner of Tirana would be brought into the transforming light through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Thanks, Grace Church of DuPage, for your commitment to the work here!
This year instead of doing a camp with just Grace Church of Tirana (the youth group that we work with) we decided that this year would be a good year for us to do a camp with two other churches in order to train these other church leaders how to do a JV evangelistic English camp. So this year it was three churches doing one English camp.
We had a team of 18 come from Emmanuel Faith Community Church out of Escondido, CA. This was their first time that they had ever done a JV English camp. They did an awesome job! They arrived about a week before camp, so there was plenty of prep time for camp. They also did a lot of street evangelism, community service (picking up trash – that is much needed here!) and feeding the poor.
The week of camp went great!
I had to leave early from camp to take care of a water heater that fell off our wall at home crushing our toilet and coming close to landing on Violet (Please read Gretchen’s blog entry on that CLICK HERE).
However I was able to be down there for a few days. The camp was in southern Albania on the coast of the Adriatic see. I had never been this far south in Albania before (at least not on the coast side). The views we had were breathtaking. We spent the week down on the Albanian Rivera looking out into the sea at the Greek Islands. We camped right next to the sea (some slept in an old UNICEF refugee tent from the war back in 1999). Not a bad way to wake up in the morning and be surrounded by such beautiful creation.
Some of the pastors from the other churches that were involved said that this camp was the best thing that they have been to. The team did such a good job with English classes and small groups. Jeff Blied (their team leader) did a great job with bringing the camp through the stories of redemption.
By the end of the week 10 people professed faith in Jesus Christ! We are trusting the Lord for lasting fruit in their lives and for more fruit from both of the camps.
Thank you for praying for us this summer! May God continue to build his Kingdom here in Albania through the young people!
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Tonight is the last night of our first camp. The Grace Church of DuPage team and the Albanian youth team have done a great job. The camp is a little smaller than we expected, but we are praying that an awakening would happen in the lives of these young students. Pray that Christ would be made much of as we finish this week of camp. More to come…
Thursday, April 08, 2010
Since January we have been in the States for the birth of our third child. Violet Sue was born on March 10, 2010. So for one hour we can offically say that we had three kids under the age of three (Samuel turned three on March 11). Violet has been a great baby, in fact so great that we as a family decided to drive 1300 miles down to Florida only a week after she was born!
Now we are learning what is means to be out-numbered. Samuel always has something to say and is very mechanical, having to explain to anyone in sight how something works and is put together. Evangeline (who turns two on June 25) still has a limited vocabulary of poo-poo and bye-bye but she has become quite the monkey with no fear, always happy to get out of her high chair and sit on the edge of the tray with her feet dangling and a huge smile on her face. Then Violet, who is only heard if she is hungry or getting smashed by Samuel and Evangeline while they wrestle too close to the bouncy seat.
Our time in the states has been great with our family and friends. In a few weeks we will be driving out east to Virginia to visit Gretchen's family and from there I (Justin) will be heading to Czech for some leadership meetings then into Albania to get everything ready for our summer ministries.
We were originally going to go back to Albania in May, but my younger brother Jared decided that it would be a good idea to get married right in the middle of the summer (July 3) :) We are glad for the timing of the wedding though, because that means that our kids will have some extended fun in Grandma's pool and we will get to see the fire truck on the 4th of July!
Our scheduled departure date is July 6 and then our summer camp ministries start July 9. Please pray for this summer, we are praying that God would reap a huge harvest through a lot of the evangelistic efforts that are going on. I will write more on camps later, but we just wanted to update and let you know that we are still updating this thing even though it has been a while.
Thank you for your prayers and support! There are a lot of exciting things happening for the Kingdom in Albania and we are grateful to be a part of it!