Last Night in Albania

This is my last night in Albania. Tomorrow I will teach the last lesson of the Seminar which actually began last Sunday. The theme has been The Holy Spirit of God. Lesson titles were, “God Fills Us with His Spirit,” “The Gift of the Holy Spirit,” “The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit,” “Sins against the Holy Spirit,” “The Leading of the Holy Spirit” and “Is the Biblical Gift of Speaking in Tongues Still in use Today?” As the Seminar has progressed attendance has regularly increased. Last night the men of the church even went to people in the surrounding neighborhood to borrow chairs. The building was filled and the atmosphere was exciting. As people came in the buzz of conversation gradually came to a crescendo. Conversation and laughter filled the air as people greeted those whom they were surprised and excited to see. I have been very warmly welcomed and the messages have been enthusiastically received. All have expressed gratitude for learning vital Biblical concepts which for some were new and for others a refreshing reminder.

The Lord’s church is growing and maturing in Albania. This will have been the fifth time that I have visited the churches in Durres and Tirana. Congregations in both cities are growing. I know many by sight and even remember some names. Many are new to me which reflects the positive effects of the evangelistic outreach of the members. The church is mostly composed of High School and College students but there are several young families who have been attending worship services and are involved in weekly Bible studies. That is the case of the Durres Beach or Adriatic Church where I have been speaking. There are two new families who are coming regularly to Bible classes. Diana and Yvonne teach the children and Alfred and his co-worker, Edward, teach the parents and the other students. Alfred and Diana are in Durres every week day, making contacts in the community and teaching the existing students.

Today has been a long day. Alfred, Diana, Aldi and I left at 8:00 this morning to make the 40 minute drive to Durres. We arrived at the hotel where a banquet room had been reserved for the seminar. The facilities were very nice and the staff of the hotel was very attentive to our needs. Leaders from churches in surrounding cities began arriving at 9:30 AM. There were forty-three in attendance. We had three 50 minute sessions with 20 minute breaks. At the conclusion of the seminar we were treated to an excellent meal in the hotel dining room, provided by the sponsoring congregation. Four American missionaries were present, one of whom I had met in Vancouver, Washington 30 years ago. Tom Bonner said, “Let’s not make it another 30 years before we see each other again.” Today as I said my goodbyes to these men I constantly had a lump in my throat. These men love the Lord and crave spiritual truth. They were sincerely grateful for the instruction and extended warm invitations to teach in their cities when I return.

My heart is full of love for these precious souls. I am grateful to God for blessing me with this opportunity. When I leave tomorrow my heart will be filled with sorrow at the thought of leaving brothers and sisters whom I have grown to love and may not see again in this lifetime. At the same time my soul will be rejoicing at the prospect of coming home to those I love and being introduced for the first time to my great granddaughter, Katie Beth Bamburg.

I sincerely love all of you, John