Since moving to the Czech Republic, I have not had the chance to visit Albania, the Cramers, or any of other brothers and sisters in Albania. Last month after finishing my Josiah Venture camp tour I was able to make a special trip down to Pogradec, Albania. The day I arrived was a very special day because my best friend from high school, Chad, and his wife Jess and baby girl moved to Albania to serve as missionaries alongside Cory and Kristine. I kept my visit somewhat of a secret from Chad because I wanted to surprise them at the airport. And thankfully, my plans succeeded. He was baffled when he saw me walk out of the airport in Tirana. Lot’s of hugs and lots of smiles! :) And for the first time in a long time Cory, Chad, and myself were back together. I am thankful for these brothers of mine. Our roots go deep.
My visit lasted only 5 short days, but it was ever so refreshing. We talked about ministry, family, the gospel, joys and trials from this last year, and a lot more. I got to see where Chad and Jess would be living and got to witness part of their experience transitioning into their new life in Albania. On the Saturday evening I was there, I attended the youth meeting that Cory runs with the pastor he works alongside, Erion. In attendance were close to 70 Albanian youth. This meeting was the beginnings of what is currently a church plant stemming from another city about an hour away. My heart was full to hear about and see the fruit that God is producing through this. I was also encouraged to be able to see many of the students who I had known from my previous trips and to be able to meet new ones who have been impacted by the camp ministry and outreach that Cory and Kristine have been a part of.
This is my encouragement to all of you as it was to me during my visit to Albania. Stay faithful to the Word, preach the Word, teach the Word, and love the Word. It is without mistake, authoritative, and personal. All of it,
“all scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” - 2 Timothy 3:16
It is sufficiently the best tool that God has given us for everything. It is not dull or outdated, but is alive. It works!
“For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of the spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” - Hebrews 4:12
So, be faithful and stand firm upon the for sure Word He has given and keep in step with the Spirit who will guide you in all truth.
When I was in Albania in 2013, I met a young man named Marjo (Mario). It was Marjo's first time to english camp that year. His english level wasn't very high, and my ability to understand or speak Albanian wasn't very good either. We found ways to communicate, but usually our efforts would end with us shrugging our shoulders and laughing at each other. I'm not sure why exactly, but Marjo and I spent a lot of time together at that camp. It might have had something to do with the camera gear that I had though. Regardless, I was thankful the close connection I was able to have with Marjo that week. Since that time, Marjo and I have kept in contact over Facebook and other social media but I have not been able to come and visit until now. I was so thankful to see him on this trip. He lives in the same town as the Cramers do, so we made sure to get some good hang time in together. We went to the lake, drank coffee, taught each other new words and phrases in Albanian and english. We had a great time! Since my last visit to Albania Marjo has been growing in his relationship with Jesus a lot. I was very encouraged. He is currently attending the church that the Cramers are currently a part of planting and is in a weekly bible study with Cory, Erion, and a bunch of other young Albanian guys. I praise God! I look forward to the day that I will come and visit Albania again! Until then, čau!