Update from 2017 Albanian mission trip
February 25, 2017
Update from the 2017 Albanian mission trip
Dear Partners and friends,
We recently returned from a six week ministry trip to GraceLife Durrës, Albania. The purpose of our trip was to minister to the leadership and the church, and to help strengthen them in the vision to reach Albania, the Balkans and Eastern Europe with the glorious Gospel of grace.
GraceLife has been in Durrës for two years. Carel and Alècia Erasmus have been leading the church there since January 2016. They are the first leaders of the church to have obtained the correct paperwork to stay longer than a short-term visa allows, and this has brought stability and health to the church of 20 or so believers. Many people would look at the numbers in GraceLife Durrës and be disappointed – but we need to keep in mind that this is not an easy mission field.
You can see the negative effects and influence of communism and Islam everywhere in this nation (which is constitutionally a secular nation with around 1% of the population being evangelical Christians). The entire culture there is resistant to Christianity and Christian ways of thinking.
The majority of people are Muslim – some of the believers in GraceLife Durrës come from Muslim families, and we even have some Muslims who visit the church from time to time.
GraceLife Dürres is truly a healthy, living and growing church: we are steadily seeing people visit the church, get connected with the believers and then eventually receive Christ! One young man, who received Christ three months before we arrived, immediately (after receiving Christ) asked if he could also remain a Muslim, too. A few weeks later he received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and on our last day there he was baptised in water: publicly, on the beach. It is evident that there is no turning back for this young man who is eagerly learning more about his new faith, and he even received a dramatic healing miracle while we were there.
We had great fruit from the very first service we held in Durrës. Attendance steadily grew every week, and by our last meeting we had doubled in number. At our first meeting I (Shayne) spoke about true Christianity to challenge the warped religious idea of Christianity and Jesus that exists in Albania.
I basically shared that Christianity is friendship with God through Jesus, and that the Christian has God living on the inside of them through the Holy Spirit. Afterwards I said, “What good is it if we can’t demonstrate what we’re talking about?”. And then I asked if there was anyone who had lower back pain. A girl came up; we measured her legs and the one was notably shorter than the other. She was in a lot of pain. Then I called up one of the guys in church who was a Spirit-filled believer to pray for her.
Before he prayed, I told the church that if they wanted to see a miracle they should come and watch, and a number of people crowded around. “In the Name of Jesus, leg, grow!” he said in Albanian, and everyone saw it growing! Later, she told us through tears of joy that five years ago, she had had a nine-hour back operation because of scoliosis. Doctors said that she had a 50% chance of surviving the procedure, and afterwards they told her that she would just have to learn to live with the pain for the rest of her life. But Jesus healed her! Praise God! All her pain was gone!
Overall we saw eight salvations, a few baptisms in the Holy Spirit, four water baptisms, and a number of healings and miracles. The believers there were greatly encouraged by the discipleship and training they received, and even more so by knowing that they have family in South Africa that love and care for them. Every life touched and changed is a life that is impacted for eternity! And every person we reach will ultimately impact generations to come!
During our time in Durrës we received clearer vision for the work there and the ministry as a whole. It was encouraging to see that Carel and Alècia are doing well there. They’ve settled into a fruitful and effective life in a foreign country and culture. They’re doing well in connecting with the locals, learning the language and effectively reaching people.
Carel and Alècia are two of our personal heroes – we admire and respect them so much for giving up a comfortable life in South Africa to reach the unreached in Albania. We want to thank every single partner who is helping to make this church plant a success – GraceLife Durrës would not be where it is without your generosity!
In case you missed the video update, watch it here
January 27, 2018
July 30, 2017