Today, we spent a majority of our day in the village of Darshen. It is a small village in the mountains of Albania. There, we got to tour the school; the children were let out early for us (the kids are let out early every time Kids Club people come). There, we talked about the story of Easter, and about what God has done for us through Jesus Christ, His son, through some curriculum called “Resurrection Eggs”. It was cool to be able to share the Gospel with the kids. After that, we got to hide some Easter Eggs and give the kids their first Easter Egg hunt! It was awesome to see the children run around excited and searching for eggs. We then played volleyball with them, and then walked around looking at their small village and praying over it. It was beautiful; Darshen is surrounded by mountains and beautiful plumb trees. The beauty of God’s creation was breathtaking. This was a moment when I felt I learned a lot.
Compassion. That is what God has been teaching me, and I am sure that it is what He is teaching the rest of my teammates. Compassion mean’s “to suffer with”. As I get to spend time in Vlashaj I suffer with them. As I walked to the streets of Tirana I suffer with the beggars, especially the children being forced to beg by adults. As I walked around the village of Darshen I suffer with the children and people in the village. This does not mean that I am facing the same hardships as them; I am far from that. I suffer with them in my heart; it breaks for them. It breaks because of their physical needs; many times water and food can be hard to come by. It breaks because kids stop going to school because it is too far for them to go to the high school. It breaks because after the girls finish 8th grade they are locked in their homes until they are married off. My heart breaks because of the unwillingness of neighbors to work together hinders them both. My heart breaks, I suffer, and I sympathize with the people of Albania, especially Darshen. Keep in mind, though, that Darshen is one of many “Darshen’s” in Albania and around the world.
So what does this mean for the Church? This is not just an “Albanian Christian” issue, it is a world wide Christian issue. What is the Church going to do about this? To start, I propose that we start living our lives truly loving others, truly sympathizing with them. We often say that we love others and sympathize with them, but I think we often just move on with our own lives. Being able to be here and see first hand places like Darshen has made it easy for me to sympathize with them. I am not saying that everyone needs to do short term mission trips or become oversea missionaries, but I do think that we need to look at our actions and motivations. We often serve others as long as our needs are met; is that truly selfless or selfishness masked? Now this is a broad suggestion, there are many other smaller/more specific things that we can do. We can sponsor children or donate to other organizations or missionaries. Missions is a two part system: there are “Goers” and “Senders”. The Church needs people to send others and support and provide for them, but the Church also needs people who will go out into the world (America or overseas).
So I leave you all with this: PRAY (talk to God, but also LISTEN). Pray for yourself; what is your vocation? Are you to stay in the states and minister that way and send others? Are you to be in fulltime ministry in the states or overseas? Also, pray for people all over the world; both believers and unbelievers, free countries and oppressed countries. And more specifically for this trip, pray for Albania. Pray for our team for the rest of our visit (can’t believe we are halfway through). Pray for the Waggoner’s, Anna and Abby, and for the places we have been to. For the village of Vlashaj, and the awesome kids that come to “the Jesus Place”. For the city of Tirana and all that inhabit it. For the village of Darshen and their living conditions, both physically and spiritually. There are so many more pray requests for Albania than just the ones I have listed. There is much work to be done, but I have joy in Christ, confidence in the Father’s work already being done here, and anticipate what is to come in the future around the world.
“And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”