The “Way of Peace” church in Patos

The “Way of Peace” church in Patos 

Patos is a new town built in communism to house workers in the nearby oil fields and populated with people from all over the south of Albania. The church, founded and raised up by missionaries from the European Christian Mission, is seeking to reach out with the gospel of Jesus Christ into the surrounding areas.

 

Celebrating 20 years of God’s goodness

The church in Patos was packed out as we celebrated the 20th anniversary of its founding. The church has used this time to reflect not only on God’s goodness towards us but also what He would have us do and be. In the months leading up to the anniversary the church set aside a day of prayer and fasting every two weeks and has been much blessed since as we have seen new people come into the services and much evangelistic literature spread.

The anniversary saw churches from Tirana, Lushnje, and Fier come together with the Patos believers, the Sunday School and other invited guests from the town to worship God. Stephen Bell, the founding missionary, shared his memories of the very first meetings and how God answered prayer wonderfully through the years. Murray and Fey Cotter who also served in the church gave greetings. It was wonderful to see the Patos church working so hard together to make this a special day. Klodi lead the service, Bledi preached powerfully from Ephesians 4 on God’s vision for His church, and the believers all worked hard to serve food and drink to our guests.

The challenge of the service was clear; to see the church established with local leadership and to see disciples made not only in Patos but beyond!

DSC00215

Klodi Shamata leading the service

DSC00213

Participants in the service

DSC00216

Stephen Bell

The music team

The music team

Murray Cotter

Murray Cotter

Celebrating 100 years of Albanian independence

This November saw celebrations all over Albania for the 1ooth anniversary of Albanian independence. The Patos church wanted to take advantage of this occasion to not only proclaim the gospel but to show the role that evangelicals have had in Albania’s history. James Clarke of Gjirokaster had prepared an excellent booklet about the role of evangelicals in independence and he agreed to speak in Patos about this. James shared that the Turks, who ruled Albania for 400 years, would only agree to allow Albania to be free if it had its own written language. It was the translation of the Albanian Bible by the British and Foreign Bible society that led to a written Albanian language and thus to an independent state. The deputy mayor of the town came and we were encouraged by the young people who attended from the Language Institute.

Meanwhile, a number of believers organized distribution of James’ book and a special evangelistic newspaper on this theme around Patos. Copies were given to our language school students, students at the local high school and there was a special book table also which proved very popular.

Will and James speaking at at the public lecture

Will and James speaking at at the public lecture

A new church for Ballsh

The town of Ballsh is best known for its oil refinery which spreads the most terrible smell in the town and surrounding villages. A YWAM team had established a work there but for ten years there has been no gospel ministry in this town. God put it into the hearts of local churches not only to pray for a church to be planted there but to work together to see it established. The Patos church has links with Ballsh through one of its members, Marjus, whose family still lives there and is part of the group which is seeking to church plant there. A property has been rented for church activities and we are hoping to develop not only services on Saturdays but also children’s and youth ministries. Patos will lead a service a month and provide a preacher for it as well as being involved in evangelistic activities.

It was a joy to have the opening meeting in Ballsh on March 31st and also to be able to begin the distribution of boxes from the Samaritan’s Purse organization not only in Ballsh but in the surrounding villages. Please pray for Shaun Thompson (Gjirokaster), Geni Dogani (Memaliaj), Memli Mema (Fratar) and all those who will be involved in leading and serving this work.

 

Raising up new leaders: Bledar Lamaj

The vision of the Patos church is to have a plurality of leaders from the church who will lead it in its mission. To this end this May the church called Bledar Lamaj, or Bledi, as a church apprentice. Bledi was saved at 9 years old through the ministry of the Sunday school and showed a seriousness about the things of God at an early age. As well as missionaries, Sunday school and youth leaders mentored him and it was soon evident that he was a very gifted young man. He developed further in his time at Tirana university where he studied economics and was also involved in both the “Way of Peace” church there and the local IFES ministry amongst students. At the end of university Bledi believed that God was calling him to serve in Patos and since then he had a number of jobs as an accountant. This gave him invaluable experience in the work place and exposure to all the pressures that Albanian workers face such as corruption, exploitation by bosses and fiddling the books!

Bledi and Bela

All through this time he shared the preaching ministry in the church with Will Niven, lead prayer meetings and the children’s meeting and also was involved in pastoral care for members of the church. It became evident not only that Bledi was called to full time ministry but also that he simply had no time to continue his ministries in the church and to work.

Bledi continues to preach, lead Bible studies and prayer meetings and the children’s work. He combines ministry with study through the BILD leadership series and is also involved in the work amongst special needs people in Fier and other ministries. The Patos church provides 60% of Bledi’s support which is very rare in Albania. Our desire is to sustain as much of the work as possible with our own funding but if you can help Bledi’s support please do contact the trust.

 

Summer teams reach out to children and young people

We have been blessed over a number of years to have teams coming from North Hertfordshire in England and Musselburgh in Scotland to serve in Patos. This year teams were involved in two camps on the southern coast for English students associated with “The Language Institute” our language school. It was a blessing to see local believers leading and staffing the camps and working together with the teams for the sake of the gospel. Team members were involved in leading games, giving testimonies and Bible talks, teaching conversational and English and forming friendships with the campers.

Teaching English at camp

Following the camps the team from Musselburgh Baptist church helped in a week of follow up activities. In the mornings there was a meeting for children with some 25-40 children each day and in the afternoons there was a meeting for young people.

Children’s meeting

This has had an impact on the Sunday school ministry as greater numbers have started to come. In addition to the children a number of parents and even a grandfather have been coming to check out the church!

The core of the church: Young couples

The Patos church for many years had a large number of young ladies and girls swelling its ranks. Now the core of the church are a number of young couples many of whom have returned to Patos from university and have settled into work. For the first time, the church has a number of young children coming with their Christian parents to services in what is a limited space in the building. This summer another couple, Fejziu and Denisa, were married and have been coming regularly to church.

The church at Fejziu and Denisa’s wedding

Prayer points:

  • For Bledi as he trains and gains experience in gospel ministry in Patos. Pray that he might mature, grow in wisdom and in time take on more responsibility in the fellowship. Pray also that some other men from the church will join him in leadership.
  • For the founding of a ministry amongst young people. Pray that we might have wisdom in how to reach out to this new generation and to build disciples who will serve God for many years
  • For the children’s ministry to know God’s blessing. Pray that many more like Bledi will be saved and grow to be servants of God. Pray for Bela who works with Bledi and also pray that more people will become involved.
  • For the founding of godly families in the Patos church. Pray that the new families being created would have enough work to meet their financial needs, that they would grow spiritually and that they might be a driving force for the gospel.


Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: