“I know how you feel about workers in your space on Saturday, but you’ve been waiting a long time for the electrician to bring the materials and finish his work. He will be in the building tomorrow. I just thought you should know.”
Though the builder is of another faith, he has always respected our request that no work be done on our site during the Sabbath hours. He has made this known to all of his crews, which has generated some interest in the community.
Brenda and I were working out of the country at the time our builder contacted our local assistant, Nexhip. Maybe he assumed that the Albanian believers wouldn’t be so specific about when the work was done on the center as it neared completion. Maybe he assumed that it would be excessively inconvenient for them to wait even longer for the outreach center to be finished. Although they have been eagerly awaiting the completion of construction, that assumption was wrong.
Nexhip let the builder know that the requirements had not changed in our absence. It wasn’t about my preferences. They had made their own decision. No work would be done on that space during Sabbath hours. The building could wait.
It has been encouraging to observe the response from the local community. When the church members have made choices that demonstrate a lack of self-interest, the first reaction has been astonishment. For some, the next response has been mockery, but more often it has been positive. Then comes the curiosity. “Why would they do this? What’s driving them?”
Our plans for the center will likely increase that curiosity. Our interfaith community service club might leave some scratching their heads. The free family health and wholeness programs might make them wonder if any strings are attached. We expect it will take time for them to trust that the Adventists want to be a blessing to the community, regardless of anyone’s professed religion or lack of one. We hope to reflect the One who commanded His followers to treat our neighbors as we would want to be treated; the One who said we should bless even our perceived enemies.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:43-45).
May this center become a beacon of light and hope in this community, and may our members’ loving kindness spill out into Berat and beyond. Won’t you become a part of this project through your prayers and financial support?