Greetings to all our family and friends abroad! Once again we delight in updating you about our life and ministry work in Albania, having arrived August 9, 2007. We surely have missed all your warm faces and sweet fellowship, knowing as well that you have lovingly given of your time and money in the past, present, and for future. There is much to share in regards to recent endeavors, some of which we would have never imagined happening this soon, resulting in such wonderful praise reports, various prayer requests, and a few specific needs, all written below.
Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow . . .
v The Baptism Service held September 9, 2007, exactly one month after our arrival, was truly a blessing! Berti produced a beautiful bulletin translated into Albanian as well as a tract explaining the meaning of baptism. The liturgy was all too familiar, refreshing, and very worshipful despite the lack of power causing all singing to be unaccompanied. Most of the hymns chosen were unfamiliar by most present, but we had a very full sound. Many of the 25-30 attendees gave such positive responses to this first Presbyterian and reformed liturgy in Durres. One friend claimed that he learned more from this sermon, especially of Christ and the cross, than the past two years attending other local evangelical churches. On the other hand, there was opposition to Erion’s baptism from some, being that he was sprinkled and not baptized in the Adriatic Sea for the unbelieving world to see. Most of the local evangelical churches believe that unless you are baptized in an open, public place as a witness to the world, then your baptism is not valid. Berti made a point to address these issues in the tract, and overall, the Lord has blessed the means of grace! We had to use a fruit-tray to carry the baptism water and a music stand as a pulpit.
v Erion Dushi, a single, 29 year old General Practitioner with a tender conscience and steady, teachable heart for God’s truth, was the first individual baptized by Berti as an ordained minister. We were glad to have his unbelieving parents attend the service in his honor as well as several of his friends, which are friends of Berti as well. Erion is a visionary just like our dear Pastor Carl Robbins (and Berti), desiring to establish a type of Christian Medical Clinic, overseen by the local church and reaching the needs of the community. Along with other doctors and specialists on staff, he desires to have available some type of crisis pregnancy care in conjunction with biblical counseling. He, along with a few others would also love to see a Christian school established in Durres. What a blessing to find other others with the same vision and heart.
v Church Facility is Rented! Yes, you have heard us correctly. This large one room facility with beautiful tiles was a great bargain for being in the center of town and right behind the masque. This room, much like a storefront with apartments above, may comfortably seat around 50-70 people, contains a small bathroom, and has the possibility for a sink. The two landladies are very precious, one’s name meaning beautiful and the other meaning gift. Though the room is bare, we are so very thrilled and now must go to work! Thus we bring to you our specific needs and prayer requests.
Please pray and consider financing these items needed for our worship in Albania.
New Church Building Project Needs:
Pulpit, Communion table, and Baptismal (custom ordered)
Communion set and Offering plate(s) (U.S. purchase by Jenny)
Other Prayer Requests:
v Jenny’s safe and profitable return to U.S., specifically as she updates WRPCA on Mission to Albania, retrieves information for Erion regarding medical clinic operation, visits family and friends, and takes part in two weddings.
v Necessary Shipment Document – A certain document is required from the Government in order to rightfully bypass taxes on our personal belongings, seeing that they are not items we plan to sell or use for business. Please pray that we would be able to retrieve this soon.
v Residency Permit Approved – Though we should not find out for some while, we continue to request prayer that Jenny would be approved for residency.
v Continued Contacts, Evangelism and Outreach, Hospitality visits, etc., – We have had such precious time with people here, in our home, in their homes, at local cafes, and more. There are more contacts Berti desires to make, especially before a regular worship service begins. Pray for opportunities to befriend unbelievers as well as those Christians in need of spiritual encouragement and fellowship. Continue to pray for the translation of materials, Berti’s sermon studies and translation, Red’s leadership as well as career choices, Jenny’s opportunities to serve and be hospitable in the home, Erion’s continued growth and outreach, and other friends and family involved.
v Sunday Evening Bible Study! During preparations and renovations for the church facility, we do not want to lose ground. Thus, Berti plans to hold a 5:00pm (11am in SC – beginning of Sunday School at WRPCA) bible study time in our apartment during which we will also spend time in prayer as well as introduce 1 or 2 new hymns. Please pray for Berti’s preparations and for the Lord’s blessing our study altogether.
There are no doubts in our minds that the power of prayer to a Great God has fueled such remarkable beginnings in Albania!
We are so very grateful for all your love, support, encouragement, and faithfulness for Christ’s Kingdom Come!
In His Grip
Albert and Jennifer Kona