I was in school until about a month ago.  It took me three years to earn my Master’s in Theology from Fuller Seminary.  During that time, as an elective, I took a class on preaching.  My professor outlined for the class a seven day progression of thought, prayer, and further contemplation on the subject to be preached.  Beginning Monday, and working some small or great amount every day until Sunday, a proper preacher hones the message they will deliver.  My pastor in Fushekruje, a man named Alban called me on Friday afternoon asking if I would like to preach today.  I told him I needed time to prepare, and that perhaps next Sunday would do better.  I also said that in any event I would need a more experienced interpreter to handle the subject with me before an audience.  He assured me that he would ask Leyla, a very talented young lady, to be there at the necessary time.  

Later on the same Friday, Alban called again to say “OK, good.  I have asked for her and if she come on Sunday, then you will be the preacher.”  

“Sounds good Alban,” I said.  What else could I say?  I decided to prepare a message on the opening ten verses of the book of Romans.  I have to hand write my notes because I don’t have access to a printer.  This morning, though I came prepared, Leyla was not at church.  I breathed a little easier.  Also not at church were our worship team leader or his wife.  Fatjon, Leo and three young ladies were conscripted to lead the songs.

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Artiola, Brisilda, and Emanuela turned out to be my worship team.  After five short songs had been finished, pastor Alban stood in front of the congregation and said “Joshua, you said you would not preach unless Leyla was here.  I thought that she would be here but, she no here.  So, you are preaching or no?”  In the States we call this throwing someone under a bus, I’m not sure what the term is for it in Albania.

“Sounds good Alban,” I said.  What else could I say?  My first ever sermon went off quite well.  Fatjon provided the necessary interpretation with some small help from Alban when a Theological term was too foreign.  Alban’s English is choppy, but he does understand the ways of communicating our faith.  In truth, I enjoyed standing with my friend to deliver the words of Paul to an audience.  Some of the 13 had never heard this particular message before.

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Of greater note than my inaugural pastoral performance was the presence of a special friend in the audience.  Sajmir said no to a day of fishing to attend our service today.  He did so to honor me.  As I type these words now I feel the honor at the top of my sternum where my throat begins.