Creative Director - Daniel Reimer

Creative Director - Daniel Reimer

One of the beauties of missions is that it brings together believers from all over the world. Those who send, those who go, and those who hear. There are mulitple layers, facets, and connections that need to take place in order for missions to function. 

It is not just the missionaries on the field. They are not alone in the work they are doing. They are on the front lines, learning the language, planting the churches, reaching the neighborhoods and cities. But, the ministry taking place is part of such a greater community of believers. 

In America, the prayer warriors, the supporters, the short term missions teams, and the missions committee all play a massive role in what God is doing. It’s truly an incredible network that God has put together. 

So as missionaries, we often feel that we are caught inbetween two worlds. The world we come from, our families, supporters and churches, and the world we have gone to minister to. And communicating to everyone back home can sometimes become a job in and of itself!

But one of our goals, is to bridge the gap between the missionaries and this network. And the reality is, with all the technology available today, this is much more possible than it ever has been before. And this is exciting! Because people get to hear about what God is doing all over the world in a way they never have before! 

As we have thought through the best way to do this, Daniel Reimer has become a very clear answer. Not only has he been involved with Thrive’s ministry in Albania since the very beginning, but he now serves as Creative Director for Thrive and has already began to use his skill set to communicate with all of you. He has made all the videos throughout the years, developed the website, formatted our emails and so much more. 

But as the ministry here grows, there is so much more to communicate. We want everyone to see and know what God is doing here. We want you all to be a part of it as tangibly as possible. 
We are so excited for Daniel to move here at the beginning of 2019 to bridge this distance to an even greater degree. 

Not only will Daniel be here to serve as Creative Director but he will be involved in the ministry taking place. This means discipleship, equipping and training. So as he dives in, he will help us share with you everything that the Lord is doing here.

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A Threefold Cord

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A Threefold Cord

This blog was taken from Kristine’s blog (http://ontheohrid.blogspot.com) and has been updated for 2018.

This picture was taken about 15 years ago. 

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Cory had gotten saved a couple years ago on a missions trip to Honduras. He realized he had no plan for his life and new that God did. He told the Lord he would do anything for him, "even if it meant pulling out old people's teeth in Russia." ...that was the worst thing he could think of at the moment. But he meant it. 

He knew he needed get involved at church. He went to Jr. High group one Wednesday night and found himself hurling dodge balls at tiny 6th graders. 

He was hooked. 

He had begun to learn how to study the Bible verse by verse and had learned enough to know that disciples are to make disciples. 

He started to pray that the Lord would give him guys to disciple.

Though he knew that he had so much to learn, he wanted to do it alongside younger guys that he could teach. 

So he prayed. He prayed that the Lord would give him guys to disciple. 

A month later he went to summer camp. At the end, two guys who had been in his small group came up to him.   

They said, "Will you do a bible study with us?" 

Cory was 21, they were 15.

So they started studying the Bible. 

1 Peter. Verse by verse. 

Cory always says "I really had no idea what I was doing." 

But they went verse by verse. Elected. Predestined. Sanctified. 

What do those words mean? 

2 years later there were 10 guys in the bible study. 

Studying the Word of God. Verse by verse. 

Now, 15 years later, those two guys have become two of Cory's best and closest friends. He has roomed with both of them, traveled with both of them, been in ministry with both of them. They were in our wedding. 

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Cory never thought he would be doing missions. 

Today, all 3 of them are.

Working together, serving together, growing together.  

This is one unique story of God using believers in the lives of believers for His glory.

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Camp

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Camp

As we gear up for summer camps this year, we reflect on the last 6 years of summer camp and are amazed by what the Lord has done. 

THRIVE is not a summer camp ministry, but the summer camps are a part of the outreach/evangelism ministry of our local church. 

American local churches, send teams, and minister to the local church here in Albania and we have been blown away by the fruit. 

And just to keep the main thing the main thing.


Why do we do this? 
Why do we ask American churches to send teams? 
Why do we spend time and money and energy to camp in the forest? 
Why do we teach English and play Kijabe-Can-Can? 
Why do we spend our nights trying to swat the mosquitoes away?
Why do we spend hours with kids who don't speak our language? 

Because God uses it. He truly does. 

Many of the kids have never truly heard the gospel. Many of these kids have never heard that they have an eternal soul. Many of these kids have no idea that God loves them. 

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They are hungry for truth and we have seen many come to Christ. Beyond that it is our priviledge to watch as many of the kids who get saved through camp, begin to grow in their walks with Christ, and become a part of the church.  

It's not the ultimate culmination of ministry here in Albania for us. It's just the beginning. 

It's just the seed planting. Some of the seeds do fall on rocky soil. Some of the seeds are eaten by the birds. But some of the seeds do fall onto good soil and the roots do begin to grow. And we will spend the rest of the year, and the rest of our years watching and working to make the seeds grow. 

These camps are used to DRAW. They are used to PROCLAIM. They are used to IGNITE

And we wholeheartedly believe in them and will continue to do them every summer for as long as the Lord allows. 

Because of this, we do believe that the best way to use our resources and to continue this ministry is to have a campground of our own. As you heard in the video, we have the property, and we now just need to make it functional as a campground.

We look forward to being able to being able to run camps and conferences on this new campground by 2019!

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Bible Study

Bible Study

The greatest way that I (Cory) have been impacted and changed as a person is through being a part of a Bible study. I remember the first book I every studied was 1 Peter.

1 Peter 2:2 says “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the Word that you may grow. ”

At the time I was a spiritual baby and for me that was the clearest, most helpful picture of how I was to grow in my faith. Being in a Bible study allowed me to ask questions, to talk about difficult doctrine and to be sharpened by others. I loved it!

A few years later, I prayed that God would give me people to do a Bible study with. I soon found myself leading some young guys through the book of 1 Peter and I watched what had happened to me, happen to them. 

How does this work in a different culture, where some have never heard the name of Christ? What if they don’t know what church is? Or they think that the entire story of Jesus is depicted in the Jesus movie? 

But, in every culture, every age group, every stage of live, God uses the study of His Word to transform lives.

This fall, I took a group of Albanian boys through the book of 1 Peter. And again, I watched the Lord transform lives. 

The simplest way to grow in faith, learn about Christ, and to be sanctified is to stare at and study God’s Word.  I often ask questions about a passage and all the boys look up.  But slowly they begin to look down, to turn their pages and find the truth within in the text, the context and the words themselves. 

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6 years ago the first Bible study began in Pogradec, with 4 boys. 

Today, there are 50+ people attending the various weekly Bible studies within our church. Women, Jr. High Girls, Jr. High boys, young adults, High school girls, High school boys all meet to walk through God’s word together. 

If we want to strengthen the church of Albania.  The real solution is for people to love, depend on, and submit to every word of God.

It takes time, it takes patience.  It is us depending on the Lord, and the Lord working through us.

But the fruit is the greatest priviledge of our lives.  To watch people understand Christ.  To hear them walk through difficult doctrines and find answers in the Bible.  To witness them connect the dots and voice how their hearts and minds are being molded.  

Not only do we watch the Lord transform these lives, but He continues to transform us as we study, explain, and share His Word with all of the new Albanian believers He has brought to himself. What a mighty God we serve.

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Preaching In Albanian

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Preaching In Albanian

I remember when we first moved to Albania being overwhelmed about learning another language.  I remember this older German lady telling me “you know how you learn a language? Vone vord at a time.”  We did everything.  Lessons, notecards, listening, reading, writing, practice, practice, practice.

And after 6 months of living in Albania we shifted every relationship we had to Albanian only.  It was hard.  I couldn’t understand or speak, I felt like I just stood around trying to hear words I recognized.

Now 4 years later, its easier.  But it is still a ton of work.  

All that work so that we could communicate to these people the truth of God in their own language.  So we could understand their thoughts and hearts.  So that we could reach as many as possible.  

And then it came time to preach in Albanian.  It wasn’t my choice.  The pastor I work with walked up to me and said, “next month your preaching in Albanian.”  I was not ready but I knew he was right to push me.

Right before that first sermon was one of the hardest I ever prayed.  I prayed God would seriously speak through me cause I wanted to preach God’s Word with authority and honesty.

God has given us the mission to strengthen the church of Albania.  If it means we evangelize, we evangelize.  If it means we counsel, we counsel.  If it means we preach, we preach.  But we are committed to do that in the heart language of these people.

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Mercy Ministry

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Mercy Ministry

“Do you have any baby clothes for my little brother? I didn’t eat all day, can I have some bread? Our roof is falling apart, the walls are wet, and mold is growing everywhere, can you help? My mom is in severe pain and we can’t afford medicine, do you have any?” 

Unfortunately, it is easy to become calloused to need when you pass by the same outstretched hand on the side of the road day after day. 

But when these sorts of requests are coming from the people that are welcomed into your home on a weekly basis, whose stories you’ve heard, with whom you’ve shared jokes, who listen intently as you speak to them about the Good News of Christ, who you sit next to at church on Sunday…you know that you can’t do nothing. 

Albania’s communist past, the current corruption that still exists, and flippantly distributed “charity” has created an extremely difficult set of circumstances for the people here.  Some do not have the motivation to work and have been taught to live on hand-outs.  Others are ready and willing to work hard but jobs are scarce and often require you to bribe the right person in order to be hired.  Its just complicated.

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Jesus came to “make his blessings known as far as the curse is found.” And his work on the cross really was that far reaching. It reaches to the depth of our sinful hearts and is able to transform the most wicked person, and it can also reach as far as oppressive systems and governments that rule this world.  

As a church we want to be Christ’s love and light to the people in our church and community.  We want to be a part of His work.

We first want to care and provide for one another.  And secondly we want to be a light and display of God’s love for the city of Pogradec.  

So, to the requests we receive on a daily basis, as a church, we are saying, “Yes. We can help.” Sometimes it means immediately reaching into our pockets or cupboards.  

But we can do more.  And we need to get organized.

We are most excited as we are developing a “Mercy Ministry” Team.  This team delivers boxes of food on a regular basis to individuals or families who have expressed need.  This food is provided through a partnership with Children’s Hunger Fund.

This is a simple way of addressing physical hunger. But it is a tool to build deeper relationships with those in spiritual hunger.  It gets us in the door and gives us ears.

We are able to share the gift of Christ beause they have witnessed his love and care through our church.  

This isn’t just evangelism, this is discovering the good works which He prepared beforehand for those in our church (Ephesians 2:10).  This is caring for the poor, for orphans and widows (James 1:27).  

God has risen up people within our congregation who feel convicted to participate in this work and are faithful to it. With the new property and space our church recently aquired this year, we plan to open a soup kitchen which will be another tool we will use to draw those in need into the life and love of the church. And we know there are opportunities down the road that we cannot even yet imagine!

This is good fruit that Christ is producing through His church. 

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Wholistic Church

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Wholistic Church

How does a Bible study of a few young boys grow into a thriving church? 

This is church planting. This is a process. This is what we are doing in Pogradec. 

But like its very name, a church plant is not an inanimate, or unchanging thing. It’s a plant. Its growing and changing and bearing fruit and struggling. 

 

THRIVE SEEKS TO GROW DEEP ROOTS

& bear good fruit in the name of Christ. 

 

We, right now, are church planting. This is an intensive process. 

The goal is to plant a church in this city where no healthy church previously existed. 

We began with what God gave us: a few young boys. But as these young boys grew in their walks with God, and they began to evangelize. They shared with their moms, their classmates, and their siblings. And from there a church began to grow. 

And every step of the way we have worked to provide a place for every generation to be presented with the gospel and to have a place to learn and grow in their knowledge of the truth. 

So from that single bible study, many more have sprouted up. When kids started attending the youth meeting, those youth began a children's meeting. When parents began to read the Bible and ask questions, we began a Sunday service. 

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And like a plant, this church has grown. There has been good fruit, there has been bad fruit, but God is faithful to grow His church. 

And our church here has been built on the backs of many of those youth who first came to Christ. They are becoming the church planters right beside us. 

But unlike an actual plant, this is an eternal venture. It is not only living, it is spiritual. It is not only physical, it is emotional. 

The training, equipping, discipling, rebuking, exhorting, strengthening, encouraging of many new believers is a work and a ministry that is unending. 

And while this church may not always be considered a church plant, the work is never done. 

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians describes this work in chapter 4,  


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“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds, and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” 

Our prayer is that the church here in Pogradec would continue to grow quantitatively and qualitatively. That many more would not only know and accept the truth but that they would grow and use their gifts in the body of Christ. 

What an incredible privilege to watch the Lord grow His Church!

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Deacons

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Deacons

We are two and a half years into our church plant here in Pogradec.  Every day we are working toward the ultimate goal of establishing a church that is mature, active, and unified.  Biblically, one of the crucial roles in a thriving church is that of a deacon (1 Timothy 3:8-13; Acts 6:1-4).

Several months ago Cory and Erion presented the idea of beginning a deacon prep ministry. You could call it, “Intro to Deaconship.” But it would be a deacon ministry made up of those that weren’t officially deacons. The reason for this is that our church is mostly comprised of young people (high school and college age). Many of these are committed to church attendance. But are any of them qualified to be deacons? There are numerous who faithfully serve and help in the church. However, the time and “testing” that Scripture requires to reveal the character of those that should be established as deacons has not yet passed. We are a young church with young people who are young in their faith. And this is exciting!

The “youngness” that characterizes the demographic of our local body is the same quality that allows us to get a head start in molding, training, equipping, the generation that will one day serve our church in this vital role.

So, we identified a group of young men that we believe are characterized by service, faithfulness and personal growth. When I [Chad] met with them for this first time to explain our purpose I said, “You are not deacons. But, one day our church will have deacons, and we hope that one day you will be one.”

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Since that first meeting we have been slowly working through the character qualifications of deacons and practically what it looks like for a deacon to serve and care for the church. As with the early church, these men will serve in logistical and practical ways. This means brainstorming to identify the needs that are specific to our church and the best means of meeting them.

As time goes on working with this group, it will become evident who is really committed in being a servant. And for me personally, I will be blessed by seeing Christ formed in them.

We look forward to seeing these men leading our mercy ministry to the poor, widows and orphans. 

We believe their humble servanthood will promote greater unity within the Body. 

We pray that they each would be like Stephen, passionate about the Gospel to the point of great sacrifice (Acts 7). 

We know that their work will be key to the effectiveness and fruitfulness of our church.

Please pray for us as we seek to establish (by God's power and grace) a healthy and thriving church here in Pogradec, Albania. 

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Translation

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Translation

What a day we live in!  I (Cory) have access to every Christian resource, book, blog, podcast, and sermon on my phone.  It's all at my finger tips!  You ask ... "Why are all those tools so important?" Because it makes me a better missionary, a better counselor, a better apologist, a better husband, a better father.  And most importantly, it helps me grow, learn, and gain better affection for my Savior.

As being a part of THRIVE, I want to strengthen the Albanian Church.  Day to day, this means dealing with people.  Sin, sanctification, plans, relationships, theology, and all that stuff.  Lots of talking.  Lots of counseling.  Lots of coffee.

But Albania is lacking something very important.

Can you guess how many times I've wanted to recommend a book to my Albanian friend who has questions about God, theology, or maybe some issue or sin they might be struggling with? All the time!  

But the truth is, I don’t.  Because I can’t.  Because it's not in their language.

Here we speak Albanian. Here we read in Albanian.  English is a foreign language. 

Remember, 25 years ago Albania was a Communist nation with closed borders and isolated from all other nations.  Before that, it was under the Ottoman Empire for almost 5 centuries.  As a result Christian literature is hard to find, and most of the good old stuff is non-existent.  No Pilgrims Progress, no Augustine, no Calvin.  But as the number of Christians increase in Albania, the need for more resources increases.

And here is the ironic/frustrating reality:

I can just about obtain access any book, blog, or resource that I need to from Albania.  And yet can’t give any of those resources to the people here.

But, in the last few years, God has saved some really important and gifted Albanians in Pogradec who have begun the work to daily to translate resources, literature, songs, blogs, studies, and anything else that is needed.  

Mesina and Sergej are two individuals who have begun serving in this way.

Mesina got saved through a summer camp a few years ago.  Since then she has translated probably over a hundred sermons and Bible studies for the missionaries.  This young girl stays up late, says no to things, and serves when no one is watching.  All so that the missionaries in her church can preach the truth in her language.

Sergej is a young man who is giving his young life to translate books and resources from English to Albanian.  He does this because he wants the Church of Albania to have every resource it can to grow deeper in faith.  I had no idea when we met at a camp 3 years ago that today I would get to watch the Lord empower this young man with passion to reach his own people.

I am sure at this moment he is on his computer somewhere alone working on something.  Not for his own glory.  But for the glory of Christ.

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THRIVE has helped fund the costs of getting the publishing rights for a few books that are now being translated.  This is a small cost but it has potential to be life changing for generations. Translating good Christian Literature (because we have lots of the bad stuff for some reason) is one of the clearest needs for strengthening the church of Albania.  It's a simple but time-consuming effort, but one that can absolutely and radically change lives.

So whatever book you are reading right now ... we don’t have it.  We have plenty of prosperity gospel, wacky doctrine, and shallow self-help.  

But, with the hard work of these new believers, I am looking forward to the day when Christian Albanians can have a small Christian library in their home, in their language.  THRIVE is thrilled to have a very small part in helping that happen.

Our prayer is that through these resources, we will watch the Lord work in the lives of more Albanians, and that they may bear good fruit and grow deep roots in the name of Christ.

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The Building

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The Building

Not too many years ago, there were 4 boys in the city of Pogradec who began to learn the truth of Christ through a bible study. Their faith grew and their passion for Christ began to spread in their city. And while they had few resources, little knowledge and much to learn, they became some of the greatest evangelists we have ever seen. A few years later, in 2014, there was a youth meeting of about 20 boys taking place. In a city and country where less than 1 percent of the population know Christ.

From that day, we have watched the Lord not only grow His church here in numbers, but in depth and maturity of faith. We have seen the seed fall on every kind of soil, and have watched God’s faithfulness to build His church despite the rocky soil and the choking thorns. 

In October of 2015 we held our first Sunday service of the Church of Pogradec. While the church was filled with students, we also saw many of their mothers and families and neighbors. And from there, along with consistent bible studies to reach each of these age groups, we have watched again, the Lord grow His church here, into a multigenerational congregation. 

On a weekly basis, there are 7 bible studies (ranging from Jr. Highers to Women) and 4 meetings at church (Childrens, Jr. High, High School and Sunday). There is a group of people who take food packages to under privileged families. There is a daily bible reading time at church where students go to read the Word together. There are students who translate sermons and Christian material each week. There are girls who serve in Sunday school. 

But where has all of this taken place? Physically I mean. 

3 different buildings in the last 4 years if you don’t count our homes. 

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We’ve consistently grown out of every place we have rented. And not only on Sundays, but in our ability to run all the ministries we desire to run. 

As our church grows and as the believers grow in their own abilities to use their gifts, we are watching people branch out and finding new ways to serve and love not only each other but also our community. 

We were beginning to feel like the opportunities were endless, but quickly realized that we were limited in our structural and physical capacity. 

And so we began to pray. We prayed that the Lord would give us a place to call our own. We prayed for space to open up a soup kitchen and a medical clinic. We prayed for a place with enough rooms to have Sunday school classes for toddlers and the school aged kids. 

We prayed for a place in the center of town that would be a light to our community. 

And we even asked that God would give us a place big enough to rent out some of the property. 

Why? We have communicated to you the poverty here and have explained before that the ministry here is so largely dependent on the support of so many of you. Which is a beautiful thing! This is the Great Commission! 

But, we also desire for our church to be more self sustaining as it grows and deepens. Developing an income would allow us to do this. And it establishes the church beyond us and our support. 

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These were our prayers. And God answered our prayers!

Because so many of you answered the call to be a part of God’s global church here in Albania, in November we purchased a property we never would have imagined. 

We constantly echo the words of Paul in Ephesians.

 

 

Ephesians 3:20-21

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we can ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen.”  

 

 

God has truly done more than we even asked, and all the glory is His! 

Our property is in the center of town. It is multifaceted and the opportunities are endless. It also has property to rent out!

And as of last week we officially received permission to begin the remodeling process! 

Our church and even our city is buzzing with the news of this. 

It has not even been 3 years since our first Sunday service and we cannot wait to see what the Lord does in the next 3 and 5 and 10 years here in Pogradec and in Albania. 

That is what excites us! We know that what God is doing here in this city will have a ripple effect on the entire country. 

Because He is able to do far more abundantly than all we can ask or think. 

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The Mission of THRIVE

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The Mission of THRIVE

When you think of missions, what comes to mind? Is it based on an experinece you’ve had, a book you’ve read, a missionary you know? 

Beyond that, when you think of THRIVE, what comes to mind? Do you know our mission? Do you know what ministries are taking place? Do you know how vital the part you play is? The reality is, the more you know, comprehend and see, the greater you will understand your role in this. 

The work God is doing in this impoverished, post communist country, does not take a few willing families, it takes an army of believers. It takes prayer, resources, finances and a community of people that are passionate about God’s work in this country. 

And each and every day we are reminded of this team of supporters, all around the world, that God has put together to advance his kingdom here. 


  Psalm 67

May God be gracious to us and bless us
    and make his face to shine upon us, Selah
that your way may be known on earth,
    your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
    let all the peoples praise you!
 
Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
    for you judge the peoples with equity
    and guide the nations upon earth. Selah
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
    let all the peoples praise you!
The earth has yielded its increase;
    God, our God, shall bless us.
God shall bless us;
    let all the ends of the earth fear him!

Nearly every line in this Psalm references “all people” or “all nations.” The heart of God, from before the world began, was to redeem people of “all nations.” 

This Psalm is our prayer. While we know this task has already taken centuries to even partially come to fruition, our prayer is to be faithful to our task at hand. 

In God’s infinite wisdom He has allowed Albania to intersect all of our lives, whether it be us as missionaries or you as supporters. We are all called to be faithful to his global mission in all the multicolored ways He brings to light. 

Through going, through praying and through giving we are all joining and working together to fulfill His great commission.

 

THRIVE STRENGTHENS ALBANIAN CHURCHES

to grow deep roots and bear good fruit in the name of Christ. 

 

But what exactly does that look like? What exactly takes place here on a day to day basis? 

Our goal is to give you a small taste of the variety of ministries here. Our greatest desire is for you to be dynamically invested and engaged in what God is doing in Albania.

How are we going to accomplish this? 

Watch the 1 minute video at the top of the page to find out! 

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