There’s something about watching the Golden State Warriors’ basketball team right now that is just a whole lot of fun. And if watching them is fun, being a member of their team is even more so. For years the Golden State team languished. And then, boom! They blossomed. And they assembled an organization that has proven to be almost unbeatable. Now from sportscasters to loyal fans, from the guys doing their laundry to the coaches and players themselves, everyone agrees, this team’s run right now is keeping things a whole lot of fun. Success is fun.
Matter of fact, fun plays a big part in motivating our mission’s team members who are headed to Albania this summer. Just ask any one of them, and they’ll admit it. It’s fun to be a part of a work that is right now showing so much visible success with many in the country opening their hearts to Christ for the very first time. Getting to play a part in a fresh movement of God is fun. Hearts being changed for eternity is God’s work, but He gives us the opportunity to join with Him. Albania is one place where His work is right now bearing visible fruit, and it’s fun getting to have a part in it.
For 45 years following World War II a communistic government imposed severe restrictions on any public expression of religious faith. Mosques, churches and synagogues were closed and turned into warehouses, museums or secular cultural centers. Nationalism became the new “religion.” All other religious expression was deemed as an attack upon the state. Atheism ruled in the public square.
Then came the collapse of the communist state in 1990, and a new era of openness was ushered in. With that new climate came a fresh responsiveness to the gospel of Christ. Now, just more than 25 years later, in this country where only a handful of evangelical believers were known to formerly exist, there are now more than 30,000. And this in a country with a population of just over 3 million. God is graciously birthing a new movement of genuine followers of Christ in this otherwise spiritually dark place. That’s a joy – and fun to have a part in it.
Today, roughly 65% of the population identify as Muslims and another 30% identify as Catholic or Orthodox. But a recent state sponsored census revealed that 67% of the population even today claim that religion plays “no significant role” in their daily lives. In practice, Albania is largely a secular society, but with a great openness to the West.
That’s where our mission’s team comes in. Young Albanians want to learn English. For them it’s an opportunity for advancement in a depressed but growing economic climate that leans heavily toward the West. If you can learn English you’ve got a shot at a much better job. So Campus Crusade for Christ runs one week English camps for college students, inviting them to come and learn English from native speaking Americans, giving them an opportunity to explore the Christian faith as well.
July 10th through the 30th our team of 15 will join with the local Albanian staff of Campus Crusade to host an English camp for about 40 students. Our experience doing this two years ago demonstrated that our simple native speaking ability opens a door for us to be used of God in a unique way that He is using to draw Albanian students to Christ. That’s fun! Teaching conversational English, sharing our testimonies, having coffee with students and sharing in times of cultural exchange and Bible discussions, all work together to build caring relationships where the gospel gets communicated in multiple ways. And God draws many of those students to Himself through the camp and in times of follow-up after.
Right now our team members are looking for individuals here at home who will partner with them in prayer, making a commitment to begin even now. No personal letters requesting financial support will go out to our church family members, but you will have an opportunity to support our team at a special lunch with an offering received on Sunday, May 1st. While it’s true that the folks who are going are the ones who will likely have the most fun, you too can cheer for them, pray for them and support them with your gifts to get in on the delight of seeing what God will do. Page 6 of this newsletter lists those who are on the team. Pick out someone to partner with and then stay tuned for more information about our adventure when we come together on May 1st. Let’s do this together and have some fun.
(You can still root for the Golden State Warriors too ... It’s fun!)