“They put up all the interior walls in our center today. It looks great!”
“The workers finished putting in the plumbing on Thursday. They’re working quickly!”
The energy and enthusiasm of our Albanian church members escalated as they watched construction proceed rapidly at the site of our future Center of Influence. Answers to their prayers were beginning to take shape before their eyes. A few of them like to stop by to watch the progress and then bring reports to the group that meets in our home. We continued to praise God for what He was doing through the generosity of supporters, for divine providence, and for His encouragement through difficult times.
Then the reports abruptly stopped. There wasn’t any new construction progress to mention. Work seemed to have come to a halt. Two church members decided to investigate. They learned that a machine that was important for the finishing work had broken down and was awaiting the arrival of new parts. The finishing work had begun at the top of the building with the apartments, and the workers were making their way down. Just as they reached the floor above ours, the machine quit.
Our church remained active during this time. Each member continued bringing surveys into their neighborhoods, schools, workplaces and the city center.
Across the city, interest in our center was growing. The building is in a great location on the main road next to a city bus stop. At the hair salon, I heard the women chatting about the ladies’ fitness program they look forward to joining. “The men have gyms where they can exercise together, but the women don’t have anything like that. We want a place where we can take exercise programs with other women.”
The men at the barbershop were overheard talking about the English language programs that will be taught there. “English is the most international language. More jobs are requiring English skills. Some employers already say that applicants have to pass an exam. And if our kids don’t learn English, they’ll be left behind.”
Our church’s young adults shared how their friends were excited about the smoothie bar where they could get together in the afternoons.
The bazaar was abuzz about the micro-business classes and the community service club. “The government can’t do much to help people in need. If we all can do a little and give a little, we could really give a boost to those who need help the most. That would be good for the whole community!”
Eager to make disciples, our church members glowed about the prospects of being a blessing in the community and having improved opportunities to introduce more people to Jesus.
We all breathed a sigh of relief when the parts arrived, the equipment was repaired, and the work resumed. We could envision the activities that would take place in our center. It would be a place where busy lives could slow down, intersect and connect. It would draw service-minded people and create a sense of belonging.
But our unseen enemy was not done yet. One Sabbath, Dani, our head deacon, brought the sad report that the machine had broken down again. Looking around at all the discouraged faces, he said, “We should expect opposition. We should expect resistance in the spiritual realm. There is an unseen battle going on.”
“How should we respond?” I asked the group.
“Let’s have a special time of prayer at the construction site,” Dani suggested. The church agreed to meet there the next day. It was beautiful to watch them respond to disappointing circumstances with simple faith and prayer. We all left with renewed hope, praising God for what He has done, what He is doing and what He will do to multiply the gospel in Albania.
Thanks to your generous support, we are close to meeting our funding goal. We are hopeful that the remaining funds will come in soon to complete and equip the center so that it can be a bright light in Albania.