Dear Praying Friends
Has anyone prayed the prayer of Jabez lately? (1Chron 4:9-10)
As about 20 teens filed into our ‘garage sized’ church, I prayed out loud – ‘Lord, enlarge my territory’ as they are struggling to physically fit into church!! Afterwards I looked up the Jabez prayer and started praying. I have been so encouraged just to keep a log of answers (known as counting your blessings to some). After years of very little growth - it is exciting to see growth at least numerically amongst the teenagers.
Generally, we are about 20 teens (age 12-17). Gjergji is making benches, to sit them on – these should take up less space than the old chairs!!! Where these teens are spiritually is still a bit unknown. They give good ‘nodding’ responses when asked – but I’m unsure whether it touches their hearts as yet. Our focus is keeping them together, and drip feeding them something spiritual, until such a time as when we can do something more, with more workers.
Jessica (USA Peace Corps Volunteer) has been instrumental in keeping the momentum going and planning meetings with them and for them. She left us on Saturday 8th April, as her Peace Corps service time came to an end. She’ll be missed.
We have asked OM Albania to help us on Saturdays as Gjergji and I can't create meaningful relationships with that number of teens all at once. On Sunday 2nd April we had our first discussion with the OM country leader about the church's needs and how OM can help. Initially we asked for help just on Saturdays with the children's and teenagers meetings - but I was aware that they were happy to ask the Lord for something more than a worker once a week. We don't know who the Lord will provide to do help us out - so we'd ask for prayers during this process to help 'enlarge His Kingdom.'
Just this week a couple said that they would come and take the teenagers meeting for us, once a month.
The Children’s Meeting continues! Numbers are good – and we are trying to teach well. A couple of toddlers are coming and bringing their mums with them. We are endeavoring to train the teens to help with the children’s meeting, keeping order, writing down the points, organizing games etc. Preparing them to serve!!
Thank you for praying about ‘Ladies Day’ on the 8th of March. We invited the teenage girls and their mums, and the boy’s mums too. We prayed simply that they would have a happy time and that the fruit of the Spirit would be evident in our time together. After games, a sit-down meal, video messages from the teens to their mums, Shqiponia and her daughter Sara ‘shone Jesus’ to them. Each home represented chose to take a Bible home. There was a really lovely atmosphere between us and the mums thoroughly enjoyed it. The Lord then laid on Shqiponia’s heart and my heart that these ladies need Jesus too. At the ‘Ladies Day’ some of the mums shared with me the difficulty of parenting especially with mobile phones in the teenagers hands. So once a month for the next 6 months, Shqiponia and I are planning a mum and daughters type meeting, where the main focuses will be the gospel and ‘How to be a better mum / daughter.’ Our first planned meeting is on the 29th April.
The church in Berat has asked for my help to improve their Sunday School. I've enjoyed modelling good teaching practice, and Jessica and I have done some background work to get their songs on PowerPoint, and to tidy some of their resources. Yet there is a serious lack of responsibly when it comes to the importance of training the next generation. I would appreciate prayer for wisdom, so as I would know how to handle 'indifference and apathy.'
Another surprise I have had in the last month has been the fact that I am now a 'proper' teacher again! The girls school needed an English teacher to fill in until the end of the school year, teaching English to the primary age children - and they thought I could do it. I teach two mornings a week, for 4 hours each - but it is draining when I don't know the children's names, and the texts I am teaching from. I am so aware of my weakness in the Albanian language - yet my strength in English. Teaching a 'strength' through a 'weakness' causes me to pray! There is no ‘Behaviour Policy’ in the school and so some classes I am finding it hard just to discipline. Again I am questioning whether this is where the Lord wants me – as I still have no ‘right’ to earn money in Albania – it just looks and sounds better!! It also is a drain on my time, and whereas before I was thinking how I could teach a Biblical principle to the children and teenagers in Morave, now my mind is focused on how to effectively teach modes of transportation to the first class!!! Please pray for the Lord clear leading and wisdom. Does He want me to ‘shine for Him’ in school too?
Maki Miço (Albanian Pastor in a Baptist Church in Bristol) came one evening with two other men asking whether we would consider partnering with Warminster Baptist Church, more closely. I told Maki that it came as no surprise to be seeing the Lord’s hand opening doors. From the 5th – 8th May we are looking forward to getting to know Andrew North and Brian Percey, from WBC – and discussing ways we can partner with them.
Our adults Sunday afternoon service is poorly attended - yet, some ladies have come over the past few weeks - which is an answer to prayer. Gjergji's Uncle Arif, doesn't enjoy the best of mental health and hasn't been for a few weeks to the service.
The last witch Doctor in Morave died in April. Gjergji says there were 7 witch doctors in Morave when he became a Christian, and he asked the Lord to remove them from the village. The last one was 'removed' last week.
After the OM BAM course - Gjergji has bought 10 beehives and is learning the art of bee keeping - hoping one day that it could provide an income. He is doing well.
We have booked to go to an OM Refreshment Conference, the last week of April. Please pray for the girls as they manage at home with Grandma and Grandad's Renja help - and also that we would listen again and learn to walk more closely with the Lord Jesus.
Thank you all for your prayers and financial help.
In His Majesty's Service!
Gjergji, Esther, Naomi, Tilly, and Lidia xxxxx
Teenagers on Spring Day, up the mountain overlooking Morave. Spring Day. Gjergji, Naomi (in pink) Tilly (in green) and I.
Teens Meeting on the 8th April. (Jessica’s leaving photo.)