In college I did not believe in religion.  I did not believe that religion was anything more than a construct to prop up the powerful; to help them maintain their power over those who had less wealth.  I can remember giving a friend of mine a gift of money for Christmas during that time.  He said “Thanks Josh.  This is an answer to prayer.”

“I’ve never been an answer to prayer before,” I responded.  Part of me was being glib, but inside I was contemplating what it might mean if I really were unknowingly being the conduit through which a prayer to God was being answered.

About a week ago I finally got to meet the head of missions here, Kurt Plagenhoef.  He told me that his pastor in Fushekruje had been anticipating my arrival with a great deal of excitement; that he had been praying for someone to come and be his partner in helping the church to grow.  “O.K.,” I thought.  “I am Alban’s guy.”

Yesterday was the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the International Church in Tirana.  It is officially called the International Protestant Assembly of Tirana.  There was Christian music over a speaker system in Vila Park, not far from the artificial lake there.  After spending some time in fellowship and getting reacquainted with half-a-dozen or so people I remembered from church last Sunday, it was time to get to work.  Alban and I caught the bus from Tirana to Fushekruje, to help get the church ready for today.


Alban with his wife and son in Vila Park on Saturday.

Alban and I linked up with Ervis in Fushekruje for a three hour meeting.  We were acting as part of a committee which is in the planning process for a small festival; which will be held in that town on June 1st.  Afterward we went to the current church meeting place and demolished some furniture in order to salvage the metal for scrap.

This morning I was again to work with Alban.  Starting at 7:30 I began the four-bus relay to Fushekruje.  Alban preached from Romans chapter 10 and Acts chapter 1 verse 8.  I also spoke.  After church was over a woman asked specifically for me to prayer for the healing of her hands.  I prayed, and she was grateful, but her hands were not healed.  After church about ten of us worked for the rest of the day moving things from that place to Bashkim’s house nearby.


The moving crew: Ervis, Bashkim, Fatjim, Ali and Alban.

The six of us shared suflatche and cola after finishing up.  I had the honor of talking with each of these men for a good amount of time.  Fatjim and Ali speak the best English besides Alban himself.  All of the people of Fushekruje Church have a heart for Jesus, prayer, and service.  It will be exciting to see how God answers prayer through them in the days and years to come.

On the bus-ride home, between nodding in and out of sleep, Alban and I shared some fellowship of our own.  He gave me the silver ring from his right hand.  Stamped into the metal are two words: PRAY HARD.  Please pray for us.