| Paul writes, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have never heard? And how can they hear without anyone preaching them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”(Romans 10:13-15) This is a story about a group of beautiful feet that brought good news to many people in Korce and the surrounding villages over the past few weeks. |
These feet belong to three Albanian men with a passion and gifting for evangelism. The first of the three is Olsi Mema. He is from a remote village in central Albania but has lived all over but we will get to that in a minute. When he was a young boy a pair of English missionaries came to his village and gave his father a bible. Olsi and his two siblings read this Bible and consequently became believers one after the other; Olsi being the last. A year later, the same missionaries returned and came near Olsi’s house, asking his sister for a glass of water. While the couple sat drinking they asked the three Mema children questions about the Bible. Each was able to answer with ease. This puzzled the missionaries so they asked how the siblings knew the answers. Olsi’s sister ran into the other room and returned with the same Bible that their father had been given the year prior by those very missionaries. Beautiful are the feet.
When Olsi was a young man he traveled around Europe for work. When he was in England, God called him to return home to evangelize to his people. As Olsi says, “He closed every road for me except for the one home so that I could return to win more souls for him than treasures for myself.” In 2015, he moved to Korce where he met his wife and they worked in the village of Plasa where there is a church plant. Together they moved to Tirana so they could both complete a three-year program at Bible School. At the end of 2019, after graduating, the couple returned to Korce with their infant son, Mikea. As this year began Olsi asked God, “What do you want me to do this year?” God told him it was time to evangelize.
By mid-March, the country began to shut down because of Covid-19. After some months the government permitted people more freedom as the number of national cases decreased. Olsi saw this as his opportunity to make a move. He and two young men from Plasa gathered some literature and went out into the streets.
Let us take a moment to meet these two young men from Plasa. The first is Mikel Kycyku. He accepted Christ as his savior in 2015 while attending church programs in Plasa. In 2018 he began as staff for the church. He completed Bible school in Erseke in the spring of 2020. His responsibilities in the village include meeting with the teens and running the men’s Bible study.
Stiljan Isa is the other young man. He became a true believer in 2015 at the same time as Keli. He graduated from Bible school in the same class as Keli in the Spring. He has been with the church for many years but came in as staff about a month ago. He has a great desire to plant churches and reach the many villages around Korce and across Albania.
Olsi, Keli, and Stiljan went to many places in Korce and some surrounding villages that do not have churches and are not familiar with the story of Jesus Christ. These villages are closed off to Christianity because the Muslims would often kick Christians out and attempted to maintain control of the village.
Given the current situation, many people were trying to process all of the information they were given and they were so afraid. Nothing gives hope during times like these except for the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three men shared this hope with anyone that was willing to speak to them. When they saw someone on the street the first thing they did was greet them and introduce themselves. They made it clear that they were followers of Jesus Christ to set them apart from the Jehovah’s witnesses and Mormons that also teach in the streets. After the introduction, they asked if people were interested in taking some literature.
Overall, they received positive reactions and many people took literature. Their willingness opened the door for the Gospel presentation. They would first say, “We were all created by God in his perfect image. We were not created to be sinners yet we sin anyway and fall short of the glory of God. We have a need for someone to save us from our sins so we can be with our perfect creator. Jesus Christ is the son of God. The only man to live a perfect life from beginning to end. He is the only one that can save people from our sins. He left his place in heaven to come to earth as a human. He lived for some time on earth preaching and teaching. He then chose to die on a cross. When he died he took all of the sins of all people on him as payment. After three days he defeated death and rose again. Those who believe in him will also be brought from death in their sin to life in perfection. Believers are forgiven and will live for eternity in a perfect place in the presence of God.”
A majority of the people that took literature received this message quietly and intently. After the story is told, the three messengers would answer questions that the people had. Finally, they would ask, “What do you want to do? Enter God’s kingdom or remain lost as you are?”
Some people chose to take the literature while thinking about these questions. Others chose to enter the kingdom of God and continue in their discussion. Many of those that accepted the good news were teen boys. Olsi, Stiljan, and Keli desire to return to these villages and continue to build relationships with these boys and eventually churches.
There is one village in particular that Stiljan and Keli are looking to plant a church in this year. Please pray for these young men as they use their training and their gifting to create a community of believers in a village that is predominantly Muslim with little to no history of Christianity within its borders. Planting a church is hard work that requires focus and a great deal of time. Pray that God will bless their work and they may see many join the kingdom. If you would like to donate to these young men click here. Thank you and God bless!