Today Pastor Kurt and I drove down to Shkoder for church.  Shkoder is a city about 2 hours north of Tirana.  There we attended service in an old performing arts theater.  We met up with a team there from Convoy of Hope.  Six men were in country from Maryland, and we spent the rest of the day with Peter, their leader.

Peter is an impressive man.  He is 35, and has been a pastor since he was 22.  His passion is church-planting and equipping new leaders to plant churches.  At the end of the day today, the three of us went to the city of Fier.  The name Fier is pronounced like the English word Fear.  Fier is the home to some 500 gypsy families, which is the target demographic for Pastor Fatjon and his family.  First we visited their church in town.

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From the outside, the only thing that would cause you to wonder if this building were anything but vacant is the sign. Kisha is Albanian for the English word church.  This church has grown from 3 to 25 over the last 3 years, which is an impressive statistic.  There is quite a bit of work to do in another part of the city.  There is an old abandoned factory complex with a railroad running through it a few miles away.

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It is in this area that an unknown number of Gypsies have come to live.  There are two main types of Gypsies in Albania.  There are the Roma, and there are the Egyptian.  I couldn’t tell which of the two these people were.  The Egyptian pride themselves on having a higher culture than that of the Roma, so even among a people group who might otherwise be united in their nationlessness, there are strong divisions.  The Gypsy has never known the love of Jesus, has never been accepted by anyone.

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They are a lovely people.  Their beauty and social structure remind me of the people of El Salvador.  Poverty strips away any masking of the likeness of God.  Created in His image, people in desperate need reflect the beauty of God in a unique and honest way.  These are God’s children.

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Please pray for Fier.  I love you.