Our Trip to Albania!

Melanie —  March 7, 2024

Wow, we are so very grateful to the Lord for allowing us the privilege of serving him in Albania.  Last summer, some of the church leaders in the area invited Peter to come back and teach them again.  We decided to go all together as a family which was such a joy!  For me (Melanie), it was such a healthy step – getting out of my comfort zone, trusting God with fears and unknowns and actually putting my passion for missions into action.  For many years, my heart has been to spread the gospel to the nations which is of course what we’ve been doing here in the United Kingdom and beyond.  But Peter has mostly been the one doing the foreign trips and the upfront ministry. I’ve always believed that we are a team and I am just as much a part of the ministry as he is, even if I was holding down the fort at home, taking care of our growing family.  But it was a special joy for me to be able to join him and serve alongside him this time in a cross-cultural setting.  Perhaps it’s the beginning of a new season for our family as none of our children are tiny now, and they are gradually but steadily flying the nest. It’s always been our vision to serve as a family and be willing to go wherever God sends us.

Albania is an incredibly needy nation – both materially and spiritually.  About half the population are Muslim and half are Orthodox, though most people do not practice their religion.  Still, people consider their religion as part of their identity and are often not open to anything different. The church is very small and lacks resources (money and leaders and training).  There are many, many towns and villages without any evangelical witness and even where there are churches, they are struggling and often without leadership.

Our church, Trinity Chippenham, has started partnering with The Way of Peace church in the town of Lushnje that is led by Pastor Berti (you can read his amazing story in the book God’s Secret Listener).  We sent a team last year to help support them in their outreach in a small village and we’ll send another one this coming August, Lord willing. So one of our goals in this trip was to continue to strengthen the relationship between the churches and do what we could to bless them and especially, pour into the leaders.  There is a wonderful Ukranian missionary family (the L’s) who serve alongside Berti and his wife Tana so another of our goals was also to spend time with them and encourage them.

Here are some highlights and answered prayers from our time in Albania:

  1. Small (but big!) thing . . . I am so thankful that I had no migraines on this trip and our family stayed healthy! (Peter and the kids had colds and coughs right up until we left.)
  2. Peter found real joy in preaching in a prison (a very rough place) and meeting some Christian prisoners who were full of Jesus and actively sharing him with others.  One man’s story in particular was incredibly moving. He is in prison basically for life but says he actually doesn’t want to leave because he feels that is his mission field.
  3. We were delighted that our dear friend, Arber and his wife, Sara, surprised us and drove from another city to meet with us. Arber became a Christian himself in prison and is now in full time prison ministry. Their enthusiasm for the Lord and desire to start up a transitional house for released prisoners was so exciting.
  4. Peter was asked to do 2 seminars for church leaders and their wives on the topic of what is the church and how to encourage people to attend and value the fellowship of believers.  I shared with the wives and encouraged them from Matthew 6 that even though their service for the Lord may be hidden, the Lord sees it and he will reward them.  He also preached in 3 churches (Psalm 17 and Matthew 8) and I gave my testimony in 2 of them.  Again, a joy to see hungry hearts and be able to encourage these precious believers. I personally felt like the Lord helped me to trust him with the public speaking (not something I love).
  5. Peter and I were able to go into the school connected with the Way of Peace church and do conversational English with the children.  It was really fun! We got to go to six classes in 3 hours.  The school is an outreach to the community and doing a wonderful work.
  6. We and (especially) our children spent a lot of time with the L family and forged (or deepened) their friendships with their children.  This family is so full of Jesus and his love and we loved every minute we got to spend with them.  Their single-minded hearts to serve the Lord, live simply and persevere in planting seeds in the hard soil of Albania was inspiring to us.  They were so gracious to us and fed us many delicious meals! Time with this family was a huge highlight for us.
  7. It was also so encouraging to spend time with S, the pastor of the Mosaic Church in Lushnje.  He is full of energy and passion to share the gospel, especially among the outcasts and marginalised people of the city. The love and warmth in his church was tangible and the church is doing a wonderful work.
  8. The last night we were there, Berti and Tana invited us over to their house.  It was a wonderful evening and Pastor Berti shared with us about some of the challenges they face every day in ministry and the needs for church leaders. He also shared about some of the development projects they are faithfully working to implement in the village which is very impoverished.  I feel more determined than ever to continue to support them and the L family. They are faithful, hard-working servants of Jesus in a spiritually dark place. I have so much respect and love for them. We can put you in touch with them if you’d like to support what they are doing financially.
  9. Everyone we met was so generous and kind to us! We also very much enjoyed the Albanian food we were served.  The olives and goat/sheep cheese were amazing.  My family enjoyed the byrek (Lushnje is famous for this national favourite food – pastry with cheese or meat or spinach) and the dried fruits, fig jam, olive oil – everything is fresh and delicious.

Finally, for some photos:

Us with Sara and Arber


Speaking in the Way of Peace church


Giving my testimony . . .


Some of the believers from the Way of Peace church.


One of the seminars . . .



Joel, talking with a man at Mosaic Church. He’s been learning Albanian as his language in school this year so this trip was a great chance to practice!


Peter speaking at Mosaic church. I noticed the woman in front of me recorded his whole service in sections and was sending it to someone on WhatsApp!


Bitaj village church . . .


This church is almost all women. The men seem to have a barrier in coming to church or even showing any kind of interest in the gospel. Please pray for many men to be saved and added to this little church.


Kaylah and Jessah with some of the Bitaj girls. Kaylah was delighted to reconnect with a few of them that she met last summer.


And some of the village ladies.


Speaking English with the students in the school.


The first couple of days we were there, the weather was lovely and we went to a few beautiful places. I just drank in all the views of real mountains, like we have back in the Pacific NW in the USA.


We visited an old castle in the town of Berat which is more than 2,000 years old!


Berat is called the city of 10,000 windows.


We also had a walk in a resort area (Albania is really building its tourist industry) which in February was almost completely deserted and . . . brrrrr. . . very cold!


God blessed us with a beautiful sunset!


Here we are on our last night with the L family and Pastor Berti and Tana. They were so gracious and hospitable to us. We love their hearts for Jesus!


Mrs. L and me. The photo at the top of this post is us with their family after we did a globe puzzle together. Spot the “pray for the world” pose of people’s hands!


Please pray for Albania!l Pray for more workers – especially Albanian leaders and missionaries who are willing and able to serve in the smaller cities and villages. Pray for the Lord to shine the light of the gospel into hearts and open blind eyes to see his love and truth.  And pray for Trinity Chippenham as we send another team this summer and seek to keep supporting what God is doing in Lushnje and beyond!