“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ. . .—that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak”—Colossians 4:2–4.
Looking back on 2014 and ahead to a new year, these words of Paul describe our longing and the very reason that our ministry exists. They also form our request for you as you think of our specific work among Albanian immigrants and the work of Northeast Community Church in general.
An open door. In many ways I am often amazed at the door already open for us among Albanians. Many times I have to remind myself that I am actually not in Albania, like when I sit in an Albanian coffee shop surrounded by Albanian men drinking their espresso and talking politics and sharing gossip. Or when we host our annual Albanian Independence Day celebration with folk music and dancing.
In God’s wisdom and plan, he has brought around 20,000 Albanians to Philadelphia. Many of these men, women, and children have never heard or touched or experienced the gospel. They are a community that is still largely unreached, still spiritually scarred and set back by one of the harshest communist regimes in history. Yet every Sunday as we worship with song, prayer, and sermon in Albanian, it expresses an amazing reality. God is building a worshipping community of Albanians here.
It has only begun. The opportunities are everywhere. There are those who come to us, coming for English classes, for cultural events, for friendship. And beyond each of them is the vast interconnected network of friends and relatives both here and spread throughout the world.
The door for God’s Word in these lives is surprisingly open because, as immigrants, they face the harsh reality of a different language, culture, and way of life. They have been humbled, their desperation is keenly felt, and their neediness is palpable. Many who might never give an ear to the gospel in their home country, listen and consider it. We see this reality for Albanians as well as among the other immigrant groups at Northeast Community Church (NCC) like Arabs, Chinese, Brazilians, and others. God has opened an amazing door in our area for the proclamation of his good news and the loving of the foreigner.
Making it clear. We need boldness and clarity to make it clear. This begins with my co-worker Martin Katro and me, who have daily opportunities to speak and declare the message. We need our hearts continually set ablaze with passion and conviction. But it has to be more than just us. If this small spark of faith in this community is to become a full-blown fire, then we need those who have come to faith among us to be bold. Some of them already are—the man in his 70’s from an Eastern Orthodox background who unashamedly declares his faith to whoever will listen, the woman newly-baptized and growing in her faith who boldly talks to her friends and invites them. Yet all of them, like you and me, so easily and naturally are afraid, timid, uncaring, apathetic and hardhearted. So we need to pray and we need your prayers.
Results. Interestingly, Paul’s request for prayer stops there. The results he leaves to God. His call and ours is to pray, and when God opens doors, speak boldly and clearly. In the year gone by, we have seen some results, some lives changed by the Word of God entering into their hearts. These we rejoice in and praise God for. But much of our posture and the posture of the Christian is that of the farmer sowing the seed; working, watering, waiting. As we enter another year we wait on God for his results, but resolve by his grace and Spirit to do what he has set in our hands: praying, loving, boldly speaking as God opens the door.
May God open a door for his Word in our city this year among peoples of many languages and cultures and backgrounds! May he give us boldness and clarity to make his Word known!
Your prayers and support to our ministry are a huge blessing and an essential element of this work. If you would like to receive updates on the ministry to Albanians at Northeast Community Church please email Jason.
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