It’s been fairly easy for us to adjust to staying here because of the Bredenkamps’ great hospitality. Craig and Odette, together with their three children (Claudia, Craig JR and Linka) have been here for a year and three months, getting to know people and getting ready to plant a church here in Durres, Albania.
Life is very different here. You may think that it must be like a holiday here because it’s Europe – but it’s not! It’s largely a poor country and the culture is completely secular (having been declared an atheist state). 70% of the population are Muslim and less than 1% are evangelical Christians. What’s interesting is that the majority of Albanians (even though they are Muslim) are apathetic with regards to religion and say that it is not a dominant factor in their lives. This was proven for me when we went to a Halal pizza place and could order bacon as a topping and there was alcohol in the fridge.
After graduating from Charis Bible College in Colorado, the Bredenkamps came over to Albania. Arthur Meintjes (Bible teacher and a lecturer at CBC Colorado) introduced us and we got to know each other a bit when they were in South Africa. Shortly after, Craig approached us and asked if they could plant a church with us. After some discussion and prayer we decided to move forward together, and that is why we are now in Albania! The Bredenkamps have sacrificed a lot to be here, and Marna and I have grown to love them and really respect their dedication to the mission. Claudia, Craig JR and Linka are doing home schooling, and each of them is involved in the mission personally. It’s amazing to see how this family are united for the cause.
On Sundays about 20 to 30 people gather in the Bredenkamp’s apartment for a time of worship, word and fellowship. I (Shayne) ministered at this meeting last week and will be for the next two weeks. We are broadcasting it live on Sunday 5pm – 6pm (South African time). We would love it if you joined us on http://mixlr.com/shayne-brian-holesgrove/). We are planning to move into a public venue next week (we’re just trusting for the finances to come through for it). There is a reason why we want to move into a public venue as soon as possible: most Albanians won’t want to come to your home unless they know you. But as soon as you have a public meeting, they will easily come! In the area in which GraceLife and the Bredenkamps are based there is no church. There is only a mosque, an orthodox church and a Catholic church. There is much need and much potential here. A few hundred meters from here (in walking distance) there is also a university. We have been trying to make connections there, but because life is so explicitly secular here, it has been a challenge.
Marna and I are enjoying doing some leadership training with Craig and Odette, and helping them strategize with regard to reaching people and building a strong and effective grace community (church) here. For us as a ministry, it is an honour and privilege to embrace the Bredenkamps as family, and join them in reaching the people of Albania with the message of God’s unconditional love and grace through the finished work of Jesus, making disciples, raising leaders and establishing a grace community.
It’s still early days here as we prepare, strategize and get going, but we’d love to ask you to continue to support this church plant through prayer, encouragement and financial support. The people here are worth it.
Shayne, Marna and William
PS. Check out this young lady who has learned some Afrikaans! She is VERY intelligent… http://youtu.be/HdlpGDpYNPo
You can help us support GraceLife Durrës financially:
GraceLife Ministries. First National Bank (FNB)
Account # 62308158452. Branch: 200610
Swift Code: FIRNZAJJ (For international givers)
Please reference your gift: “ALBANIA your name” or simply “ALBANIA” if you wish to remain anonymous.
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