It is that wonderful time of year again, time to squeeze all we can into a suitcase and set off on our summer holidays! Whatever your travel plans are, we invite you to step out with us over the coming weeks as we explore the kinds of amazing, and sometimes perilous, journeys our ministry partners take to share the love of Jesus.

If you were to take a walk over the fields between Klocë and Pocestë in Southern Albania, you might have the joy of bumping into elderly couple, Bukuria and Ylli. Twice a week Bukuria and Ylli faithfully take this five mile round journey on foot to share the Gospel with the local people of Pocestë .

A journey which once upon time they never dreamed of taking, but a journey that was faithfully passed onto them by an elderly pastor who too stepped out in faith.

Journeying with the Gospel

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Years ago, week after week, an elderly pastor, from a nearby city, stopped by Bukuria and Ylli’s house, which they shared with their daughter Lola. After a bus ride, it was a long hot walk from the bus stop to their village but the pastor was determined to share the good news he held dear. As is the custom in Albania, their family was very hospitable to him but as weeks went by, they worried what others would think about them studying the Bible and they became annoyed with the visits.

So one hot day as the pastor made his way from the bus, perspiring from the long walk, their daughter, Lola, met him and said, “We don’t need you to talk to us. Why don’t you go away? We have work to do and don’t have time to listen to you.”

In response, the pastor explained that if they listened and believed their family would be blessed but that it was not good to hear the word of God and then reject it. He would have to shake the dust of their house from his shoes and continue on elsewhere. With great sorrow, the pastor left, honouring their request to never return.

After they sent him away, life began to darken. They had no peace and no love for one another.

The family desperately searched for the pastor to seek forgiveness but it was too late, he had passed away. All was not lost though. The seed he had planted in their hearts did not wither.

“They started smiling again”

Some time later, Bukuria and Ylli bumped into a believer from their village who invited them to come along to a church in the village of Vloçisht. A church run by ministry partner, the Medical Ambassador’s Foundation (MAF) who serve poor, marginalised communities, just like Bukuria and Ylli’s, in Southern Albania.

Bukuria&Ylli Albania

Soon MAF linked them up to a church a little closer to home, in the village of Pocestë, and so began that very same journey Bukuria and Ylli still faithfully take today - from Klocë to Pocestë. A journey which also led them to Jesus, as they committed their lives to him.

Lola shares the joy this brought to all their lives:

When they believed in Jesus they started smiling again, and the Lord blessed our home with love, peace and every good thing.

As their faith grew, so did their heart for sharing the Gospel. The Lord placed on their shoulders a burden for the men and women around them.

Serving the community

With the help of the MAF team, Bukuria has begun a women’s Bible study group in their own village of Klocë, and Ylli has stepped into church leadership becoming one of five elders who serve across three churches, including Pocestë.

The thirst for the Gospel is continuing to grow too. Alongside the existing women’s group in Klocë, there is also a group of men that are eager to meet, as well as a group of children. To support this growth, the MAF team are on the lookout for a property to purchase that would allow these groups, and others, to meet more easily.

This is all against the backdrop of Albania, for decades, enduring one of the most brutal communist regimes in Europe which outlawed religion and only fell in 1991. Today, we praise God that hope has now been restored as, day after day, week after week, people like Bukuria and Ylli faithfully step out to share the Gospel with communities across Albania.

Next time you head outside the door for a walk, run or cycle, why not follow Bukuria and Ylli’s example, and pray for the communities you travel through? Find out how you can be praying for communities around the world too by signing up to receive our monthly prayer calendar here.