Albania: like New Testament times
Posted by Philip and Rosemary Halliday at 14:02 on 6th June 2012
We have recently returned from Albania, where we were pleased to catch up with all the BMS personnel and a number of Albanian leaders. Being in Albania today is, we imagine, like living in New Testament times! Church life is simple and fragile, in many ways, but God is assuredly at work.
One BMS colleague, Graham Sansom, has been ministering in the southern university town of Vlora for the past 11 years. There is now a small Baptist church there and, in addition to its impact locally, a good number of students have come to faith and been discipled over the years through that congregation. The Sunday we were there was a baptismal service, in the sea. It was also the penultimate Sunday for Graham before he leaves Albania to retire in the UK.
In recent years, Graham has been working alongside an Albanian couple, Ylli and Albana. It is Ylli who will continue the leadership of the church and, to that end, he was recently commissioned as a ‘teaching elder’ by several of the small group of Baptist pastors. There are currently eight Baptist churches in Albania, all but one now being led by Albanians rather than by foreign mission workers. The young pastors know that they still have much to learn but it is right that they now take up the reins. Nonetheless, it is only twenty years since the country ended its nearly five decades of isolation, making it possible for mission workers to go there. The Albanian Church is young in every sense, therefore, and is in need of our prayers in this time of transition.
Another facet of BMS’s ministry in Albania is the GDQ International Christian School. Together with others, our personnel are providing a quality Christian education for around 100 children and, in addition, are enabling parents from around 20 different countries and 30 different mission agencies to minister in Albania.
Two of the GDQ teachers, Susan and Gary, are getting married next month and we look forward to being there to share in the occasion. Before that, Philip will be officiating this weekend at a service of blessing on the wedding of Justine, who recently left Kosovo after 11 years’ service there with BMS. Then, back home in France, Philip will soon also be marrying a young French couple from Massy. The bride is the third sibling of the family that Philip will have married. And if you take into account her cousins, the number rises much higher still!
On the family front, the university exams have all been negotiated successfully and so Luke are Charis are home, hoping to find work in the Paris area over the summer, while Lydia continues between the lecture theatre and hospital in Edinburgh.
Thanks for reading the blog,
Philip & Rosemary.