Rruga Maliq Muca, Nr 37
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or
Tel: + 355 42 228099
Cel: + 355 69 40 96622
cell: 069-2077079 (15 Aug 04)
Rr. Maliq Muca
Phone local: 228-099
Secretary: Sadete Hoxha
9 - 5 o'clock
Tirana = PST + 9 hr
The church in Tirana grows consistently by teaching Bible to
students who are at first interested in English. Quickly, the student's
interest turns to the Bible. WEI's school in Tirana, managed by
Erik, provides a place for teaching daily. The future of the church in
Tirana looks bright. Older family members are now increasing in numbers.
the director of WEI's school in Tirana, and his colleagues report their
work in Tirana here.
The long term missionary from
America is Ellen Walker.
For some time, Artan and Rumira
Xhaferi served as one of the Albanian leaders. Bledar Valca served Tirana
and Elbasan while doing his studies with IBIA school of preaching there.
Bledar is now in Tirana full time. Artan is in America.
Maliq Muça, 37
(I = L in Albanian)
To the Maryville Church Family
God is good…all the time! This is an important reminder to our lives.
Knowing the goodness of God and that fact that He orchestrates all things
to His good will and plan is of a great relief. Please keep us in your
prayers over the things that are written in this report.
People of the Book
It may surprise you to know that the Quran (the main book of the Muslims)
refers to the Christians and the Jews as “people of the book”. That’s
quite a compliment if they mean it. During the entire history of
Christendom there have been multiple calls to live up to this description.
Back to the Bible or Sola Scriptura should not be slogans, but realities
in our life and practice. I came across to some research done by “The
Center for Bible Engagement”. In two short articles it listed 50 reasons
why people don’t and another 50 reasons why people do read the Bibles. Not
having a plan, being lazy, taking large amount of times, were some of the
reasons listed for not reading the Bible.
I became aware of “The Story” series that Jonathan Jones II preached on
Sunday nights at Maryville and thought of it as a good idea. So, at the
rights time, I approached the brothers and suggested for this to be part
of our studies. Using the scripture references as guide to reading during
the week, we remind our congregation in the bulletin again, and Sadete
Hoxha, our secretary sends not only the references, but also the actual
text copied at www.biblegateway.com.
The goal is to provide considerable reminders and manageable chunks of
reading. Then, every Sunday Morning in our Bible Class we are studying
these texts as we overview the entire story of the Bible from the
Upper/Lower Story or God’s/Our Mission perspective. It is my prayer that
we will get an appreciation for the flow of the Bible, but most of all
that we will build an appreciation and practice of Bible reading.
Work in the Berat Area
This work reminds me of the principle Jesus presented in the gospel
“faithful with little, faithful with much” or of “progressive
responsibility/privilege”. When we are faithful with little, we invite God
to step in big time. As the Chinese used to say every 1000-miles trip
starts with one step. He asks us to take the first step with Him and see
where he takes us from there.
These two months have seen important growth in four out of five churches.
The churches in Polican and Berat went from 10-12 meeting on homes to
20-25 meeting on their new acquired spaces.
The Slicer Street congregation in Kennett, MO needs to be thanked for
providing the rent money for them, and can rejoice in seeing the immediate
results from this first step of faith. The churches in Kucova and Magjat,
both have outgrown their space and were in need of additional space. They
both have larger areas now by acquiring the second floor of the building
they are in. Not only the second floors have larger sitting capacity, but
they can have two activities go at the same time, without having to have
conflicting spacing problem. The Adams Boulevard congregation in
Bartlesville, OK stepped in and picked up the additional rent. This
congregation also picked up additional rent for the church in Ura
Vajgurore and would allow them to use heating in the cold and cooling in
the heat, providing for a more inviting environment to come to.
Thanks to Hope for Albania, a Dutch Christian organization we were able to
provide chairs for Polican and tables for all places. They bring a large
container every other week with used stuff from The Netherlands and it
depends on what they bring. The chairs and the tables are of a better
quality than you can find in the market in Albania. I met with their
national director and talked about us targeting 150-200 chairs for the
other three churches. He said that usually they take what they are given
(clothes, furniture, teaching aids/materials), but he said that
occasionally they go after targeted search. This is the course of action
we will follow and see if we can fill the need this way. We do have an
offer from Adams Boulevard to match every dollar that the Albanian
churches would give with two more, up to 3000 USD. That way we can buy
them, if we can’t get them through HfA.
Using the weekend following the International Women’s Day, the ladies of
our church organized a Mother/Daughter banquet in which the female members
of our church invited their mothers to come at the church building.
Excellent and bountiful food was prepared for the event, and the mothers
were treated with a speech by Ellen Walker on Matthew 11:28-30. Ellen told
me that she had addressed the fact that most of Albanian women are “weary
and heavy-laden” in their around-the-house tasks and that she had
encouraged them to lay their burden on Christ.
Bona’s mother attended and got better acquainted with an older member of
the church. This older member also enjoyed being there and having carried
the burden of babysitting for her grandsons had missed a lot being around
the church. Ever since, she is coming almost on a regular basis. 40+
people attended it.
We live in a time when youth literally “live, breath and have their being”
on their cell phones. It has become their most precious item. Given that,
we thought of this year’s Youth Rally to bring the call of God, using the
cell phone as a metaphor.
Eduart Hoxha, who preaches in Vlora, was our speaker for the year. Eduart
had done his homework and brought some interesting research on the use of
the phone, the sizes of it and different things people do with the phones.
Then he drew parallels to the call of God and encouraged the youth to
answer the call and call some people for God.
We prepared “contact cards” for all the participants and asked them two
questions on the back part of it: 1) What was the most important thing you
learned today, and 2) what is one thing that you will do as a result of
this day? To ensure that they completed the cards we provided a
motivation: two cell phones (a purple one for girls and a black one for
boys). One girl from Berat and one boy from Kuҫova won the cell phones.
But, the most important one was to see them say that we need to be more
attentive to the calls of God and ensure we don’t “miss” them. The contact
cards will be forwarded to the individual congregations to follow-up on.
Twelve out of the thirteen congregations that are in Albania were
presented. Only one congregation could not attend due to some health
problems with some families in the church. This was the first time ever in
14 years of the history of the youth rally that we had a group from Berat
attend. Praise God!
We are on the third year of our retreat for all the churches. This year we
focused on the book of Philippians, using Philippians 4:4 as the backbone
of our study with Christ as our Life, Model, Purpose and Strength.
Dino Roussos (Athens, Greece) spoke on chapter 1 with Christ being our
life. Eduart Hoxha (Vlora, Albania) spoke on chapter 2 with Christ being
our model. I spoke on chapter 3 with Christ being our goal. Ilirjana Kura
(Elbasan, Albania) spoke on chapter 4 with Christ being our strength.
Alfred Zike (Adriatic congregation in Durres) facilitated a panel (which
had Dino Roussos, Tom Bonner, Shkelqim Kafexhiu) on joys of serving God
and challenges of being joyful. Shkelqim Kafexhiu (Durres Downtown,
Albania) organized our prayer times.
This year we asked
the speakers to contribute their outlines to a booklet that we produced.
We added on the booklet the information about each church’s history, times
of meetings, places of meeting and who served the leadership there.
Shkelqim Kafexhiu and Arlind Veshti coordinated the collection and
printing of the booklet. To fund the overhead expenses, the steering
committee asked the churches to contribute to a general fund, which could
cover for the cost of printing the booklets or other related-expenses.
Interesting enough the cost to print the booklet was cheaper than buying
notebooks for everybody, and the added benefit is that they have something
to look into once they are home. Two capable sisters from Durres made sure
that the children were not simply babysat, but taught, while the parents
could enjoy and focus on the sessions.
The 60 people who stayed in the hotel and 20 + commuters represented all
the 13 churches, plus Prizren, Kosova.
Research for camp
Camp dates are set for this year between July 20th to August 10th. Each
week starts goes from Saturday to Saturday and this year, instead of one
overarching theme for the all three weeks, the director of the week will
choose and build his own theme. For the week of teenagers we are focusing
on the issue of identity and identity formation. After some advice by
friends and research, I have already gone through four books, two series
of sermon, one youth magazine that explored the issue of identity, and
reviewed a sermon I have preached in the past. All this research has given
me a good grasp of the topic and ways I would like to see the curriculum
One challenge will be to ensure that the tent counselors are less
bodyguards and more spiritual advisers for the campers. I have proposed to
the group that this year we make tent devotions a priority. Though it was
suggested, we have not done this in the past.
This year, I will be working to have a booklet for everybody to have all
the information together in one place including program and
lesson/discussion outlines. One highlight of last year’s camp was “the
walk of silence” a very reflective part of the program in which the camper
were asked to process all that was said during that weeks. I am still not
certain of the way to do that, without being repetitive.
With the summer approaching, between the summer session and camp, we will
be very busy. In addition to that, this year I will be working with two
instead of one intern. The plan for this year is to have one male and one
female intern, who will focus a lot of energy in enriching their walk with
God and practicing that walk with male and female students from the summer
session and our youth ministry.
Also, on May 11 we
will be rejoicing with the brethren in Vlora for their 20-year milestone
in their walk with God. On May 21-23, we will be joining Tom Bonner
(missionary in Lushnja) and Jo Byrd Huddleston (from Mountain View, AR) to
visit with her WEI students in Montenegro. Three years ago, Tom Bonner,
Valbona and I traveled to Montenegro to baptize Marsida Bobaj on the river
and Jo wants to go down there to visit her for the High School graduation,
study with her parents and visit more of her students who have registered
A family has shown
interest in moving there, but with the economy and the fact they have five
children it is being difficult for them to raise the necessary funds to go
there. We can only plant the seeds for now and we will do what the Lord
brings along in this. Thinking about it, on September 2008, I was in
Montenegro in work-related trip and was praying that one day the church of
the Lord would be planted there. Maybe our prayer is being answered.
Prayers needed for the church
In closing, I would ask you to pray about our church family. Two weeks
ago, we had to take out of the bulletin a picture of hands in prayer to
create more space to accommodate for prayer needs. Several members are
going themselves or their loved ones through serious sicknesses. Others
need more work, are seeing their job threatened or need a job to start
with. In addition, we will have elections coming up next month and we need
to pray that people, who have an interest in other people, not only on
themselves, are elected and will serve in our country. Keep in prayer all
the work we are doing in Tirana and around Albania.
We look forward to hear from you!
In His service,