“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.
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.