A Culture without Jesus...
Sheep without a Shepherd
My first thought when I saw her enter the restaurant…”This can’t be the one we are to meet.” A vibrant young lady with a kind smile…with two children sharing pizza and acting like any brother and sister anywhere.
We were in Shkodër, Albania, in the northern part of the country. Our host, Enkelejda Kumaraku of Radio 7 in Tirana, is hoping to bring Christian radio to this part of Albania, to come alongside the few evangelical churches, in order to make a difference in a hard area of this land.
For two years I had heard of the blood feuds, revenge killings, which are entrenched in this culture. I had been told of one young pastor, Dritan Prroj, who was a target of a blood feud because an uncle of his had killed someone in another family a number of years before. Dritan…Tani to his wife Elona, his other family and friends…had been a virtual prisoner in his own home for five years. Following God’s leadership in his heart, the pastor felt he must resume his life outside the home. And for 18 months Tani was able to venture outside and minister to his congregation. Then, October 9, 2010, as Tani left the church to pick up his kids at school, he was gunned down.
Now…in the restaurant, this is the young widow. These are the fatherless children. Elona is only 29.
Though I was to interview Elona later, I found myself not wanting to bring up the subject as we ate lunch…as if that would make it not be so. But Elona was willing to share her story, painful though it is.
As I learn more about blood feuds, which are unique to this part of Albania, I think of Jesus’ compassion as He saw the people in His day…like lost Sheep without a shepherd. Albania was a closed country for 50 years and officially atheistic. A people desperately in need of a shepherd…the Shepherd…Jesus.
I know Christian radio won’t change a culture overnight. But it does inject God’s Truth into the marketplace. Christian radio signals aren’t limited to Christian homes and cars. All…Muslim, Christian, Catholic, Orthodox, atheist…all can hear of God’s love and forgiveness, hope and joy found through faith in Jesus.
Pray for Christian radio to become a reality in northern Albania. Pray for hearts and cultural beliefs to be captured by Christ’s love. Pray for evangelical churches to strongly confront sin and to present the claims of Christ as our only hope.
And pray for a young widow and her children, as they show God’s grace and forgiveness in their darkest moments…bringing Light to the darkness and hope for all who will embrace that Light.
Click here to see Elona's response to the question of forgiveness for the murder of her husband.
Prayer Needs and Ministry Updates
HopeFM is working on restructuring the ministry with a goal of greater financial support and stability. The staff has been reduced to the bare minimum to cut expenses and keep the ministry going. This is a critical stage for HopeFM, and much prayer is needed for wisdom and God’s favor. They need programming in Swedish, and there is little available.
Radio Voice of the Gospel operates 9 radio stations across Romania. However, several of them have to share time on the frequencies with commercial stations…including in Bucharest. Pray for the agencies involved with licensing and frequency allocation to deal more aggressively with the need for more stations in this country. Other ministries in Romania also want to begin broadcasting Christian programming, so this need is very important.
Radio Mosoj Chaski is sensing the need for more experience in the management area for the radio ministry. This station uses shortwave to reach the millions of Quechua in Bolivia, including those throughout the Andes Mountains, with Christian programming totally in their language. Pray also for the need for technical assistance and updating of equipment. They also are seeking new programming ideas.
Radio Gospel is working on bringing their online radio up to a high standard even as they seek God’s direction for the next step in ministry. They have sought a license to cover Paris, where 20% of the population of France lives. Pray for the ministry, for expenses from adding a new staff member, and for favor in other areas of ministry to see lives changed and Christians discipled.
ELION Media Ministry is rejoicing in God’s favor to meet needs and open ministry doors. Their new offices and production facilities were dedicated recently. New audio equipment came for recording and editing program material. And ELION is working with Need Him Ministries and I Am Second to produce TV spots in Serbian for airing in that country. Pray for the continued need for financial support, even as you pray in thanksgiving for God’s great provision.
Radio 7/Media 7 – As detailed above, Radio 7 is seeking a broadcast license to cover northern Albania. Pray for favor with the licensing authorities, as the application is due for review soon. Also pray for the needed funds to build the station in Pristina, Kosovo, for which a license has already been granted. Pray for wisdom as the ministry considers opportunities in television. Media 7 has also prepared TV spots and a website in conjunction with Need Him and I Am Second to reach into the secular world and provide a way to bring God’s hope.
Radio Emanuel – While this ministry is seeking to add transmitters to better cover southern Albania, and reach into Macedonia and Greece, they are also working to personally touch lives within the broadcast ministry’s reach. Pray for their Village Voice project, ministering to the poorest of the poor in Jesus’ name, and bringing to light the plight of these families who have almost nothing. Pray for the response of the churches and pastors in the area to support these efforts.
Radio Shema continues to bring the Gospel to a country that is almost totally Muslim. In spite of threats and court cases, Radio Shema stands strong in the capital city of Ankara. Pray for their financial needs. Soner Tufan, the general manager, needs to devote more time to programming and other station needs, but has to spend most of his time in raising the needed budget each month. Pray for programmers who will be willing to invest in this ministry to bring a strong Christian witness to Turkey.
Our opportunities to help ministries around the world are growing. Recent trips to India, Nepal, and Turkey have shown us great ministries that need encouragement, prayer, direction, and support. Other opportunities are on the horizon. We need the financial support to keep this facet of NRB’s impact going strong. And…in the future…we may need to add to our staff in order to better serve the international Christian media community. Pray for wisdom and for financial favor with those God has blessed with the ability to give.
I must tell you…I am moved emotionally as I write these newsletters. These servants of Christ are so precious, and the needs are so great. Their spirit is strong and their faith deep in spite of the hardships they face. I constantly wish we could do more and more. However, we strive to be content with what God allows. I am honored to serve our Lord, NRB, and these dedicated Christian communicators around the world.
And I am thankful for our many NRB members who are also investing in these global ministry opportunities. Whether organizations like HCJB Global, TWR, and Far East Broadcasting, or program producers like In Touch, Michael Youssef’s Leading the Way, and Hope for the Heart, you are making a great impact for God’s Kingdom.
You are also on my list for giving thanks to the Lord. Your prayers are an important part of God’s work in ministries around the world. But…if you will allow me…let me nudge you a bit. Is there something more God wants you to do?
Serving with joy and anticipation,