Some of the greatest privileges of this particular trip are the relationships that we get to build over the years. It’s been fantastic to see people grow so much in their faith, but it’s also such a privilege to meet young people who are new to the camp and who each have their wonderfully unique stories. One of the stories that has impacted me most is of that of Alison and Grace (not their real names, clearly).
Aged 17 and 14 respectively, these girls are from the exceptional Librazhd crowd and are still grappling with their faith. Alison has done much of the translation for us this year and Grace bares an uncanny (seriously, even the mannerisms and sense of humour!) resemblance to a particular member of our youth group back home, so naturally, our attention was drawn to them.
Having translated for us for two days, we found out that Alison wasn’t a Christian – this was something that surprised us as she seemed completely at ease with prayer and worship times (and was translating). At this exact moment in time, she would say that she’s more swayed by science – she hasn’t experienced God so how can He be real? As a group, we’ve really enjoyed talking to her precisely because she questions things. Sometimes it’s hard to decipher whether someone has made a genuine commitment to follow Jesus or whether something has been lost in translation, but I’m praying fervently that by the end of today I’ll be able to tell you that Alison has met with Jesus. Please pray for her too!
Her sister, Grace is a different story. I think I warm to her because she reminds me so much of my sister and also the aforementioned member of our youth group. Like her sister, she questions so much which is great fun for us but she is noticeably further along in her journey towards following Jesus – she felt like she loved Jesus but was very confused by the concept of grace…it’s distinctly counter-cultural in Albania (more so than the UK).
Last night, she approached me and said that she had another question for me (so far she’d asked Neil and me about why we pray with our eyes closed, why we lift our hands in worship, what to say when we pray etc.) and after the previous questions, I was looking forward to what she had to say.
It turned out that during the meeting, she had begun crying uncontrollably, then laughing uncontrollably and this continued for the duration of last night’s fantastic meeting until the end. Grace wanted to know what was happening and was quite excited when I told her that I believed she had been filled with the Holy Spirit. I’d love for you to pray with me that she only strengthens her faith over the coming days, weeks as years.
I’ve changed the names of the two girls for the sake of their privacy, but I really wanted to mention an individual or two on this trip. We’ve had the privilege of seeing many people coming into a relationship with Jesus Christ in our four years in Albania, but the total numbers are filled with individual life-changing stories. It’s really a fantastic privilege to be a part of it. After all, every trip we’ve ever taken to Albania would be totally worth it if only one person had made a commitment to be a follower of Jesus. Please pray for this group if you get the chance. Thank you!