God's Networking in Albania
Paul wrote to the Galatians (6:10), As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them
who are of the household of faith. Jesus said to his disciples, as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you (John 20:21).
We call this "fellowship." We have fellowship with Christ and with each other.
We hear much today about teamwork and networking, but fellowship is much more effective! The driving force of fellowship
is not fear or the hope of personal gain, but the love of Christ which constraineth us (II Corinthians 5:14).
Because less than one percent of Austrians have a personal relationship with Jesus, we had to assume that those who
crossed our path were sent by God. And because believers were few and far between, we learned to appreciate and depend
upon the fellowship of believers in carrying out the great commission. I would like to share just one of many examples
of God's networking.
Around 1990, a young Albanian was interned in an Austrian refugee camp, where he was introduced to Christ and mentored
by an Avant missionary. He enrolled in the Austrian Bible Institute, founded by Avant missionaries. Christians in
America helped pay his school costs. Upon graduation, this young Albanian joined a mission founded by a former summer
worker of ours. The Swiss Director of that mission was also a graduate of our Bible Institute. Together with German
missionaries, our Albanian friend planted a church in Kukes, Albania.
Because 80% of Albanians were unemployed, the missionaries in Kukes opened a cabinet shop and taught men to use
woodworking machines. Christians in Austria, Germany and Switzerland collected used eyeglasses. Christian opticians
in Switzerland taught Albanian women how to test eyes and fit patients with proper eyeglasses.
When the Serbs attacked Kosovo in 1999, half a million Muslim refugees fled to Albania, most of them across the border
at Kukes. There is a lovely new mosque in Kukes, but the leaders locked it up and guarded the gates to keep refugees
out. The first to respond with food and aid were Christians - missionaries and members of the small Christian church
in Kukes. The church in Kukes played a large role in providing for refugees and not a few heard the gospel. The church
grew rapidly, and in 2000, Avant missionaries flew to Kukes to help build a new church.
Constrained by the love of Christ, the fellowship of believers in Austria, Albania, America, and around the world, is
still the most powerful force of our time!
Ralph V Harvey