Hello Friends & Family!!!
Here in Albania, the mosques pay each family 150 euro to attend the mosque per month, essentially buying their conversion. Since families are so poor in this nation, they will go to each service in order to receive the money they need in order to survive and pay the bills. After a while, months of being forced to go to the Mosques, they end up converting and the whole family falls under the real oppression of the belief system set up. There is even a village here in Elbasan that sends soldiers off to war in Syria for their faith.
This oppression works its way into the family in a lot of different ways. Men start to treat their wives differently- silencing their voices in the home and outside as well. They take liberty in beating their wives into submission and become blind to the pain women experience in not being loved with true love, but being seen as property. Women start covering themselves completely from head to toe in order to be acceptable in society. They aren’t allowed to leave the house unless they get permission from the man to do so— it can be any man of the house.
Whether it’s the father, brother, or uncle, any man is allowed to give freedom or take it away from the women that are in their domain. Since being here, I’ve noticed that mainly women flood the local church on Sundays. We’ve asked why women come and their response is always “this is the only place I feel my mind at peace.” Women come to service after just having been beaten by their husbands in order to escape the reality they live in. For just a few hours they are able to be in a safe place, a place where we worship God freely and don’t feel oppressed.
They come with their children and their brokenness, and Jesus sees and meets them every time. This past Sunday there was a woman named Lily weeping as she asked for prayer. My teammates and I surrounded her, asking what we could pray for, intently seeking the Holy Spirit in what to do. Lily had just left her husband and he kept finding her, beating her and sending her to the hospital on multiple occasions. She struggles with anxiety and depression, and she confided with us that she tried to commit suicide to end her misery. She has two beautiful children that she’s trying to provide for, working currently as a single mother in the fish market, seeing no way out other than to go back to her husband.
At times like these, more than anything we can do, our trust is best put in the Holy Spirit. I had the honor of holding someone in deep pain. Holding her in my arms, giving her the space to be able to weep every single core heartache that has made her feel so trapped. All the tears she’s hidden from her children in order to shield them—Jesus let me be there to see them. To see her. This moment was so precious to me because this is what ministry truly is: loving people and seeing the reflection of Jesus in them.
When I looked in Lily’s eyes I could see pain, but past that I could see a fierce warrior rising up from the ashes. A woman who would have the tenderness and boldness to proclaim the Gospel to those who don’t think they are worthy. I could see her being raised up as a mother to many, loving with the same love Jesus had given her. I could see a woman pouring everything she has, all her perfume, into the Kingdom of heaven. The highest honor is to walk with the grace and humility that Jesus walked in. I could see this in her. There is a lot that the Lord is unraveling for me to pray about since being here in Albania, but the greatest thing I’ve been learning about is His unyielding Love & His unending Mercy. He never stops showing who He is to those who seek Him. Whenever I’ve seen too much, His presence has always been enough to cover me. He shields me like a blanket in the cold, keeping me warm and showing me how His hand truly is on everything that I can and cannot see. I want to give the warmest thank you to every person who has championed me. YOU are the Kingdom builders & shakers being placed in Albania. Each prayer has been poured out over this nation, and the harvest is so so ripe!! Thank you for praying with me & supporting me in this adventure of bringing God’s Word to the unreached!! In heaven, we will see the fruits of how lives have been radically touched by this.
From the core of my heart to yours,
I want to take this opportunity to thank all of those who have poured into my life with prayer and finances. As a “faith missionary” all of my financial support comes from the generous donations—whether through a “one-time” gift or monthly offering— of people who believe in what I am doing. Your prayers and support are greatly appreciated!