On Sunday morning we were all up early for service at Pastor Festim’s church, the ICF (International Christian Fellowship) in Fier.
Fier is a city in southwest Albania, with approximately 100.000 inhabitants. It is the most important industrial city of Albania and is by a tributary, surrounded by marshland. It is the centre of the oil, bitumen, and chemical industries. The population is mixed Orthodox and Muslim (typical of southern Albanian cities).
The city is also one of the most important strategic locations in the national roads network being at a prime position between north and south.
Fier is also known to produce oranges, lemons and olives.
During our short time in Albania, we covered significant distances to and from the various churches we visited. Pastor Festim and his wife Elizabeth showed us extraordinary kindness and hospitality throughout. With their two children aged 14 years and 8 years they arranged our meals and transportation and Pastor Festim often stayed with us well into the evening, translating at eating venues to ensure that everything went smoothly. An unexpected benefit was an excursion which he arranged at the end of our visit.
Pastor Festim’s church is a young church that was started 6 years ago. The church has many young people and children, notably young men who have taken up responsibilities in the church such as young Daniel who is fourteen and has been responsible for the sound and media system since he was twelve. It was humbling to see how eager they were to learn how to improve their knowledge in this area. Minister Klee, one of our team spent time showing them how they could do this.
The presence of the Lord was evident as the service begun. There was a holy hush as those present, the majority of whom were either Muslim or from Muslim backgrounds sat listening intently as the choir sang and Rev Taylor ministered from: Luke 4:14 -20.
Jesus came to this earth to fulfil the will of His Father. Jesus said, “I must be about my Father’s business”. Wherever Jesus went He made the difference. When Jesus died on the cross, He said, “It is finished.” His work had been accomplished. Jesus then said as you have sent me into the world, so I send them into the world. By the power of the ‘Holy Spirit’, He has sent us out to do work, we have work to do. Rev Taylor concluded by reminding us that our business is to take this glorious message to those who are poor, to all those that need to hear it. “Someone needs to know that there is hope and new life.
The people of God in Albania have the power to turn Albania around, to make a difference, God makes a difference. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour we can experience jubilee, we get everything back that the devil stole from us, health, joy, a new life. We can then take this and share it with someone else. The power of the Kingdom is in you and all around you”.
The message had a deep impact on those who heard it.
After the service 15 year-old Irona who attends the ICF (International Christian Fellowship) in Fier and Abiella 14 years of age were thrilled to share on video and with others in the group about how they share Jesus with their friends at school and the challenges that they face in doing so. They expressed that it isn’t easy, and they are sometimes rebuffed nevertheless, this does not deter them. They told us they love Jesus and love to read the Bible. Irona told us that she reads this every day. They were so happy that that they could tell us their story, that we wanted to hear it and that we thought it was important. They talked about how much everything that they had heard had wonderfully affected them.
Emanuella a mother of two said that she left Albania to seek a better life in Germany for her and her family. She was there for two years but came back to Albania when she realised that was not where God wanted her to be. God has a work for her to do in Albania. Her husband is currently in Italy, he would like her and their children to join him however they all want to remain in Albania. She requested prayer for the following:
- That the Albanian people will be open to the good news of the Gospel. Emanuella stated that Albanian people don’t know who to trust, they hear so many different things.
- She said please remember the Albanian people in prayer, they are an oppressed people.
Emanuella said that she loved to listen to gospel songs and really liked the film ‘Sister Act’, She always wished that a choir could come to their church and couldn’t believe it when we came.
After the meeting some of the young people in the church went onto the platform and begun singing some of the songs that the choir had sung. It was evident to see their passion for Jesus. Some asked if they could be taught to pray and to evangelise so that they can go out equipped into their local area and tell others about Jesus.