The ground floor of the church, which will seat up to 400 people, is near completion. Our second building will house our staff and orphan boys. We have at least eight buildings to be constructed on this campus. Many of the buildings will be three or four stories tall. Since we have 1.43 acres of land, we must build vertically more that horizontally.
We will train many of the local widows, in the adjacent village, to be self-supporting. The government does not have the interest or the means to care for these “rejected ones of society” – orphans and widows. GEM has a keen interest and God-given passion to care for as many of these as the Lord gives us. We want to see the widows and orphans enter into a personal and vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ and with the GEM staff. We hope to have Construction Phase One finished by the end of November. We hope to have the staff move onto the campus in early December. We hope to accept more male orphans as soon as the dormitory is complete.
This continues to be a very intensive outreaching summer that already is bearing much fruit. We had 89 junior high students attend our first camp - the Eagle's Camp (like an AWANA camp). We conducted evangelistic festivals in the center of Korca, for three nights, and now in Maliq for three nights. We have done the festivals in Korca for the last few years, and our team is now quite experienced, yet Maliq is a different place, much more of a “wild” town, and we have never done one there until this summer. We are doing it in support of Plator and his work there, so we pray that they will turn out well, be a big boost for Plator's credibility, and change some of the perceptions of people toward the gospel—from antagonistic to open. Of course, we always pray for conversions and long-term relationships to result from the contacts. We were blessed to have Adrian Snell here for one week. He did some training and practical music therapy for the orphanage and Street Kids Center. He will do a concert for the town on Saturday evening. We have held Friends Club on Fridays with the local children.
September: This week has concluded the Summer Project, "Go the Distance.” 45 young people certainly have gone the distance and run the race worthy of the calling. We are thrilled (although very weary) with the fruit. We can say that these 45 young people have rounded up a good number of junior high students in four locations and also Korca. The Eagles (AWANA type program) has grown and is off to a good start for the new year. We will be bussing kids from the villages into Korca and Libonik for the Saturday meetings throughout this year. The young people involved in the ministry have really bonded with each other—growing spiritually and experientially. They will be returning to the university in the near future.
Baptisms: Last week we had eight baptisms, many of whom were the youth from the summer project. We have five more baptisms planned - both young and old! These times are very special and quite emotional celebrations. Quite a few unsaved family members attend to watch the ceremony. We pray that many of them will be touched by the Holy Spirit, the significance of the event, and the testimonies of those who are baptized.
Economy: Pray for stability in Albania as the nation is suffering possibly its worst electrical crisis. Many parts of the country are experiencing less than five hours of electricity each day. We, in Korca, lose seven - eight hours a day. Inflation is threatening to hit 10 percent this year. Inflation has been kept at 2 – 3 percent over the last 15 years. With this in mind, not only do we expect to see more people in need, but we also will need to continue to raise more money to keep the Christian outreach projects afloat.
Street Kids/Safe House Update: We found two young Christian girls who have started working part-time at both locations, Eni and Lindita. This will help fill the large gap that was left after Rezarta and Liljana's departure. The safe house girls are doing really well: Maria will start first grade this year; Manjola was part of the youth project this summer and is feeling really a part of everything; Irini is also really coming out-of-herself. They are all growing into lovely girls, inside and outside. Jori is very stretched in directing this project but she is doing a great job. The last time I visited the Day Center, Steve had taught all the young boys all the books of the Old Testament! I think everyone, including the boys, were shocked how well they had learned them. Now they are learning how to find important Bible verses by doing "Sword drills!”
Special Education Project: Both Elena and Margarita are on maternity leave with very healthy, growing babies. Qamili, an experienced teacher, was covering for them this summer, as a trial, and he really grew to love the kids and proved to be very talented in special education. He was going to return to teaching this fall, but when we found out yesterday that Keli (the only other teacher) was going to leave for another job, he is considering becoming one of our teachers and leaving the public village school. This would be an answer to prayer! The great news is that Beni, from the orphanage, a very enthusiastic believer, will be baptized this Sunday! He is so excited! The caretakers at the orphanage were shocked as he hates water and hates being bathed. However, he saw the baptisms last week, regularly attends church, and was convinced that this was his next step! Praise the Lord! We are always looking for people who can come and help train our teachers: Occupational Therapy, Special Education, Speech Therapy, and Music Therapy.
Elderly Ministry: We also lost a staff member here. Lola who cooked and Eriola, the director, prayed that the Lord would spotlight someone at church. One Sunday, as she desperately needed a pair of extra hands, the Lord spotlighted a young lady who has been very quietly attending church this last year. She was very open to this ministry and has fit in beautifully. God is amazing how He does this. When things look like a disaster and the solution is very foggy, all of a sudden, He answers and shows His solution, which is better than what we had before! He deserves all the glory! This project continues to meet a need beyond description. Many people in the community are touched by the way these ladies serve the elderly and abandoned shut-ins. Often, these young ladies are there in the last moments of an elderly person’s life. They help with the funerals, especially when there are no remaining family members to address or attend the funeral. For many of these elderly, it is their first experience to know a Christian and experience Christ's love.
Physical Therapy: One of our PT's is planning on immigrating to the USA, so we are searching for a replacement here also. Renee, one of the training PT's from the USA was here these last two weeks. We tested a couple of new nurses, and it appears that Arta, who has just finished nursing school and been assisting with the street kids work, is quite talented. She will be on probationary training the next six months so that we can determine if she is the one!
"For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call on Me, come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:11-13). This was part of the letter that Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the captives that were carried away by King Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon. This letter is written to a group of people who were: very discouraged; overwhelmed; feeling helpless; removed from their own land; removed from their own positions; feeling lost, betrayed, and treading water in the “deep end;” and wondering if everything was going to be okay. Sometimes this is a bit of what we have been feeling lately. Nonetheless, the Lord is revealing, through his prophet Jeremiah, that we must seek our good and loving Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. We need to do this individually, but even more, as a group/as a body of people. We appreciate your prayers and love. May God wonderfully bless you!
With much love and gratefulness,
Ian, Caralee, Ashlie, and Isaac
God encouraged a ministry group from Germany to come to visit “our Peter” in Tanzania. They are so pleased by his ministry with the orphans that they are going to fund the construction of a kindergarten in Tanzania. I do not fully know what this means, but it is simply exciting! GEM currently does not have the financial means to build in Tanzania. God raised up other believers to be used to build the facility. It is of great encouragement to us.
Please continue to pray for me, the other board members, and our people in India, Tanzania, Albania, China, and Ghana. The work continues to move forward because this is God’s ministry. May you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and a blessed Christmas. We appreciate and pray for each of you who is a supporter of GEM.
Desiring to allow Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit to work in and through the GEM team for His glory,
President of Global Evangelical Ministries