Friday, March 7, 2008
In planning to come to Albania, we imagined two years of stretching service doing something worthy for our Lord. At the time, we thought we’d easily be able to come back home and re-start our lives in America two years down the line. Like usual (and we should have saw it coming!) our unchanging God had entirely different plans for us than we had planned for ourselves. Last week, after months of agonizing in prayer, we surrendered to His call and renewed our commitment to serve Him in Albania.
The last two years we have been working in a center for street children, as well as a Safe House for girls. This ministry has been a wonderful stepping stone into life here as it provided a way for us to learn language and culture. We were also able to spend our time fruitfully with children who so badly need love in their lives. Thankfully, it’s connected us with the best Albanian friends we could have asked for. We’re truly grateful for our time spent in this ministry because it is also been the springboard into our next adventure.
As we’ve built relationships with the children, we’ve seen the deep poverty in which they live and sadly, in many cases, severe abuse and neglect as well. It’s become our dream to do something about this real problem by opening a Safe House for boys. The story of two boys in particular has broken our hearts, and our hope is to get them out of their current conditions by this summer. The younger boy, age eight, lives with his alcoholic and abusive father and his paralyzed mother. She was paralyzed during his birth and the family blames and resents him for her condition. He is undernourished, neglected and although very bright, not attenting school. The other boy, age fourteen, has been juggled from different abusive living situations. His father died of alcoholism, and his mother, who had been extremely ill for a long time, died last year. Since her death, he has been living with his unstable older half brother, and is basically raising himself. Our vision is to create a safe, nurturing family atmosphere for these special children.
In addition, Steve has accepted a position as an assistant pastor at a young and struggling church in Libonik, a village about a half hour from where we currently live. The church’s role in the area is very important to the spreading of the Gospel, as Albania is still predominately a Muslim nation. Steve’s goal is to help bring balance, new perspective, accountability and to lighten the heavy work load of the church’s current pastor (Plator). The full vision is that as Steve pastors, Kristal will be operating the Safe House, and both ministries will overlap each other as we serve side by side.
We feel beyond blessed for what the Lord has done in us and through us these past two years. Thank you to all that have been an encouragement through prayer, support, letters, and friendship. We can only pray that the blessings in this next leg of journey will be so abundant!