Rachel has been as busy as ever, her load doesn’t seem to lighten much and is still wearing a number of different hats, but is encouraged by the results of the ‘Spark the Urban Outreach Project’ and camps this summer. She’s presently spending Christmas and New Year with family and planning her overseas itinerary for January – 2nd week of February, in the UK.
Matilda is on a fast learning curve, gaining experience and new skills and is blessed by the events of the summer and Christmas. She is now enjoying coming alongside and encouraging the children’s workers of previous project partnerships. It’s wonderful to watch her come alive and sparkle as she presents and teaches at the Children’s outreaches.
Marko has now recommenced his second year of university studies in design and communication in November and has reduced to flexi hours with Shkëndijë. It’s been super to have a multi-skilled and practical guy on team.
Vali continues the work in Shengjin. This month has seen numerical growth in young team; she has chosen five potential young leaders from her longstanding discipleship group all of which were at summer camp.
You can read more about our Albanian team here: CLICK
We have appreciated having Helen Sherman working part time throughout 2014, this has helped us to keep up with the financial and HR administration. Sadly her mission time in Albania came to an end in December. We wish her the very best and pray for God’s leading in the new chapter of her life.
New staff needed in March:
We need to take on a driver & audio+visual technician ready for our Spring Outreaches.
We also see the need for a volunteer administrator / mentor to join full time to release Rachel from several of her many roles. They would need good administration skills and knowledge of basic finance for day to day running of the office and maintain our communications up to date. They would also require good people skills and an ability to motivate and organise teams and gap-year people along with of course a strong personal faith in God and a love to help people be challenged to move on with God. The volunteer would need to be able to use their own initiative and work well with others. This is an exciting opportunity to help a mission that seeks to make a difference and see God move in children’s lives.
If you feel this is something that God is leading you into, to use your skills in a dynamic cross cultural environment, or know somebody that has gifting in these areas then do contact us.
Spark the Albanian Outreach
The ‘Spark Van’ has been in service for our outreaches now for just over a year. Training started mid-spring for our six partner churches ready for the summer 10 week cycle of outreaches from mid-June through to the beginning of September. There were 56 outreaches completed over the 10 period. We were blessed to have Stuart Smith, a just graduated student from ‘Mattersey Hall’, with us for six weeks of the summer, not only helping with the outreaches but also prepping up towards summer camp. The Van has also been used for special occasions, one-off outreaches like Christmas and National Children’s Day. Since the Summer over 1’600 children have been reached. We were privileged that this project was one of two organisations in Albania selected by ‘One Hope’ (an International children’s mission) to be filmed and placed on an internet platform as a show case of best practice. Watch the video.
The work in Shengjin
It is wonderful to see how Vali has developed and continued the children’s work in Shengjin. Just last week she organised a 400+ Christmas shoe box delivery at the local school and kindergarten. Discipleship classes continue weekly with Children in a room she has secured for a small monthly cost.
Shengjin still does not have a church plant, despite continuing to pray and challenging people for the past 10 years. Do pray with us.
Ola is a special child who we’ve worked with from a young age and has come every week to our children’s outreaches. She loves Jesus and continues to be discipled. Ola was born with Cerebral Palsy and cannot walk by herself. Now at 14 years old, we would really like to help Ola have a little more independence, not relying on her mum for everything. We want to buy her a posterior walker for home and short distances and a scooter for longer distances. See side bar.
We were so pleased that we were able to run camp again this year, since it has not been possible for the past couple of years, despite being enthusiastic about camp ministry results. We are grateful for everybody who sponsored a child and made camp possible this summer. We used the new ‘Alo!Mik’ facilities at ‘Eden Park’ on the outskirts of Tirana. The children had what they said was “the best camp ever!” God evidently moved, particularly in our morning devotion times and evening meetings.
It was also a privilege to be able to help run a camp also in Matilda’s village, Kajan, two hours south of Tirana, where 70 children attended a week long day camp. The Van assisted us greatly in this project.
We continue to look for suitable land to purchase for expanding our camp ministry. Do pray with us for this.
RrKK Conference & Puppeteer training
In May, David and Jenny Jones of OneWay UK creative ministries, came out to Albania for a second visit. They assisted in giving puppeteer training both at the RrKK (Albanian Christian Camping Network) annual conference and in Tirana. We were equally blessed to have Chris Brent an illusionist giving training too, in communicating the message in a creative and captivating way. At the conference, for the first time, we were encouraged to have Dan Bolin of Christian Camping International. All participants were encouraged and gave good feedback. We pray that the camping ministry throughout Albania will grow and be an even more effective tool to bring young people into a deeper relationship with their creator.
Safeguarding in Albania
The round table that we have created in partnership with the Albanian Evangelical Alliance and also in collaboration with the Albanian social services and the new government child protection agency is making slow step by step progress. Our aim is to produce an effective and applicable child protection policy with suggested good procedures, that will be applied not only by the Evangelical community, but with the potential to be implemented on a much wider front throughout Albania. Rachel is also in communication with Justin Humphrey head of Safeguarding for ‘Churches Child Protection Advisory Services’ in the UK.
Shkendije is a faith based organisation, we rely on kind donations from friends. We continue to trust in God for His provision. We currently receive just over £800 / $1225 a month from our regular faithful supporters; where as our monthly out goings (without projects) are approximately £1700 / $2600. We are praying for God’s prevision of further partners that will also give financially on a monthly basis, and that our committed present partners might consider increasing their support. Please prayerfully consider if you can help or can share our need with your network/circles.
Thank God for His faithfulness in providing for us throughout 2014, even though theoretically we should not been able to pay our bills each month since June!
Thank God for all the children we’ve been able to help local churches reach out to.
Pray for the launch of the first cycle of outreaches in 2015, starting in March, and for the church partners that will come on board.
Pray that new partners will get behind us to support us each month in prayer and giving.
At this time of year when we reflect on 2014 on all that has been experienced and think forward to what 2015 holds for us, with anticipation and many uncertainties, these well-known verses come to mind:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11and
“… in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight”. Proverbs 3:6
Know that God’s plans for 2015 are perfect!Rachel Wilson and The ‘Spark’ team