It is now nearly two years ago that we felt God lead us to partner with Craig and Odette Bredenkamp to establish a church in Durrës, Albania. For those of you who have been a part of the journey: you’ll remember that Albania (Eastern Europe) is a formerly communist country which is now a constitutionally atheist state. A 2011 census revealed that 0.2% of the Albanian population are evangelical Christians; 56% are Muslim. Albania is largely an unreached country and in the area that we have planted a church there is no other evangelical church that we know of.
Two years ago God gave us a vision to reach into the city of Durrës and into the country of Albania. He specifically showed us that the church in Albania would be a springboard to reach the nations of Eastern Europe which are largely Muslim, closed and/or unreached. Over the past two years we have sent different teams to lead the Church because we were unable to get long-term visas for anyone until this past year when Carel and Alecia Erasmus obtained the correct paperwork to stay long term. This has helped to bring more stability to the church and has helped to better disciple the people. As is usually the case in this type of environment, the work there has not been easy and the fruit has been seemingly slow to grow – but we have seen a number of people receive Christ and their lives have changed as they have received discipleship. The work in Albania may seem to be small right now, but it is really just the beginning: the growing of roots and the laying of a foundation. The potential is huge, and we are already seeing radical change in the people’s lives that we are ministering to.
A number of people have questioned why we aren’t rather focusing on reaching people locally, and why we aren’t focusing on building a bigger and stronger Stellenbosch church first. The answer is simple. Firstly, we are focused on building a strong church in Stellenbosch; we are not neglecting Stellenbosch to build in Albania. Secondly, Jesus didn’t tell us to wait until we had a perfect church before we reached out, He simply told us to “go into all the world” (Matthew 28:18) and that when we receive the Holy Spirit’s empowering we would be witnesses in all the world (Acts 1:8). Jesus has called us and commissioned us to impact the world. Lastly (but just as importantly), God opened the doors for us in Albania and He directed us to go.
Since we started in Albania we have had a number of different ministries express their belief in this mission and partner with us to make it a success. Tree of Life Church in the UK, Jong en Vrij in Holland and Charis Ministries in Zimbabwe have all either sent teams to help with the work or have sent financial support (or both). It’s exciting to see how the Lord has brought like-minded ministries alongside us to help us reach the people of Albania and help establish a strong church. This is really only the beginning of the great things God want to do through us there.
Marna and I last travelled to Albania right at the beginning, two years ago. At the time, Marna was about 6 months pregnant with Elliott and William (who travelled with us) was around a year and a half. It was not easy, but so worth it! We believe that it is time for us to visit again to evaluate what’s happening, connect with Carel and Alecia, strategize on the way forward, and to invest into the church through outreach and ministry. It’s best for us to go during our quieter season here in South Africa (December/ January) and so we are planning to go just before or after Christmas (depending on tickets) and stay for a month or so. We know that this trip will strengthen the church there and that much fruit will come from it.
We’d like to invite you be a part of this important trip by partnering with us for a gift of any amount. Every bit helps and plays a big part in helping to reach the people of Albania and establish a significant work there. In the next few weeks we will be purchasing our tickets and applying for visas. Please pray for us with all the planning and logistics!
Your financial seed for this trip can be sent directly to:
First National Bank
Account Name: GraceLife Ministries
Account Number: 6230 8158 452
Branch Code: 200610
International SWIFT: FIRNZAJJ
Please reference your gift:
“MISALB YOUR NAME” or “MISALB” should you wish to remain anonymous.
You can also give online here! (if you give online please add “MISALB” under order additional information and make the total cents “.77” so that we can easily identify the gift. Eg. R1000.77)
Please also let us know if you are planning to partner so that we can plan accordingly.
We love you and appreciate your support!
Shayne & Marna