Albania – Looking Back!
This is a long overdue report of our trip to Albania in August! It was really exciting to send a missions team for the first time as a new church. We’ve sent individuals before, but this August we sent a team of 12 from Trinity Chippenham to serve in Albania. That team included five Meads, which made it special for us as a family.
Our team, plus some of the local workers
We were based in the town of Lushnje, supporting a small local church there that has planted a church in a nearby village. Despite being small themselves, they have a desire to plant a church in each of the 100 unreached villages in the area! Their passion is such a challenge and inspiration to us. We spent 10 days working alongside the local believers. This included five days of children’s outreach in the village, five church services in three churches (preaching, testimony, music, etc.), and several seminars for church leaders and the ladies of the Lushnje church.
I, Peter, enjoyed being on a missions team like this again. I did quite a number of trips like this before we got married. This time I experienced the strange combination of various worlds. There was the world of ministry in a foreign setting which included preaching with minimal warning, through a translator, sometimes uncertain of details like expected timing, etc. There was the world of a missions team with all the blessings and challenges that come from being involved in the leadership of a team doing ministry (actually, I was just supporting Aliyah who was the team leader and did a great job!). There was the world of being a Dad, with four of my six children on the team. And there was the world of being a church elder, shepherding the team from Trinity Chippenham. It was a fun collision of worlds! I found it stretching in some ways, but hugely encouraging in so many ways.
Here are some reflections from our children. While I (Peter) had visited briefly in April to set up the trip, the three older Meadlings were returning as they had been on the OM team last year. Here are some of their reflections:
Joel: “The Albania trip was a huge encouragement. I had been to the same town and village the year before, so to go again and reconnect with so many of the same people was very exciting. It was a blessing to see the perseverance the local church has in spreading the gospel to the surrounding area despite setbacks and difficulties. It’s exciting to see the way God is working in that part of the world.” (Note: Joel is the shark in the picture with the children of Bitaj!)
Aliyah: “I was so encouraged to go back to the same village and see one of the girls who had become a Christian the last time still following the Lord. She excitedly told me how she has been reading her Bible and coming to church with her mom, and the fruit of the Spirit was evident as I spent time with her throughout the week. Saying goodbye to her was really hard knowing that she doesn’t have older girls to look up to or to disciple her in daily life. That spurred me on to keep heading in the direction of discipling where there is great need!”
Mariah: “Returning to Albania to love and serve the people there was such a great experience. Their love and devotion for the Lord was beautiful to see and through it I was able to know God’s heart for his people in a deeper way.”
We also had Kaylah with us. As one of three under-18s on the team, Kaylah did great! She was able to share her testimony during the children’s program, and she eagerly jumped into serving each day in various ways. Kaylah says, “I really enjoyed my first mission trip and I can’t wait to go back! It was wonderful to worship together with the Albanians at the churches we went to. The Lord helped me in many moments when I had to step out of my comfort zone, including when I shared my testimony through translation and also trying to communicate with people each day through the language barrier.”
We are so thankful that we were able to help with evangelism and building up the church and its leadership. The Albanian church is tiny and lacks resources so it was such a privilege to come alongside them. We were also able to encourage a wonderful Ukrainian family who are serving as missionaries in Albania. If you prayed for us in this project, thank you so much!
We were sad to leave Albania!
Albania – Looking Forward!
The believers there were eager for us to return, and we want to keep building the connection. We don’t want to just dip in and out of this mission field. We have such a passion for building relationships and hopefully having a deeper impact as a result. So, we have some follow-up plans!
Mariah is planning to visit the Ukrainian missionary family in January for almost three weeks. They are having a baby and she is going to support them at this important time.
Peter was invited to return and offer some training for the local church leaders. We are planning to go as a family (6 of us) for five days in February. Peter will run a seminar for local church leaders, and preach in the three churches that we visited this summer. As a family, we hope to continue to build relationships with the precious brothers and sisters in these churches and let God use us in whatever way he sees fit! We are excited to bring Melanie and Jessah along for the first time.
And . . . .Trinity Chippenham is making plans for another team to visit Lushnje in the summer of 2024! More information to follow, but please pray for us as we make these plans. If you would like to get involved in praying for our family’s trips or the summer team from Trinity Chippenham, please do let us know.
Albania is largely unreached (0.5% evangelical) and we are thrilled to be able to join in with what God is doing to build his church there! His heart is for every person on this planet to hear about his love and we want to have that heart too.