Albanian Christians In Greece

Mood: bemused and amused…

Weather: a dark and stormy Night…

Reading: Early Christianity & Greek Paideia by Werner Jaeger

Listening To: Missa Mystica (a compilation)

Our “fellowship meal” tonight featured traditional Greek and Albanian dishes prepared by our Culinary artist-in-residence Chef Zach. The entire service was organized by the Missions Committee on which I serve, featuring mission works taking place as close as downtown Annapolis and as far away as the Indus and Ganges rivers. Even into the mountains of Athens…

“First I would like to say that it is my privilege to speak with you all on behalf of the Missions Committee. I hope to be able to communicate some semblance of the depth and scope of this missions opportunity for our church…

Let me begin by asking, of all of you, what you perceive to be some of the challenges of evangelism within a culture of plurality – that is to say: for all the virtues of social, ethnic, and cultural diversity, what difficulties can a wide variety of perspectives and backgrounds offer to Christians in the United States?

How might this difficulty be further augmented in the event that those of an overtly Christian perspective find themselves marginalized by the broader secular culture?

How are such challenges best reconciled, and how does one even begin to reconcile such an antithesis? Where is the common ground and where is the point of contact?

Albania is a country that, during the oppressive regime of dictator Enver Hoxha, became increasingly isolated from the rest of the world (even amongst their Warsaw Pact allies) insulated by an extreme and narrowly-defined brand of Marxist-Leninism. Touting itself as the first “purely” atheistic state, the Christian religion was outlawed… even the most conservative of estimates count the deaths and imprisonments of Christians well into the hundred thousands.

Following the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe during the early `90s, a mass migration took place into neighboring Greece. While the government allowed them entry, the strictures of citizenship have presented numerous difficulties amongst the religious and political refugees from Albania. Furthermore, in recent years Greek nationalism has been on a dramatic upswell, creating considerable tension.

It is into this maelstrom, that Bob and Janice Newell followed GOD`s leading to minister unto the burgeoning immigrant population in Athens.

Leaving their beloved ones and ministerial positions in Houston, Texas to establish the Albania House in Athens, Greece. Called Porta, which translates as “door” in both Albanian and Greek languages, the Newells are laboring to teach, evangelize, and disciple Albanians – while also working within the local community to bring peace among Albanian and Greek Christians, bringing unity under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. As the Apostle Paul describes it:

“…with humility, gentleness, and patience;

bearing with one another in love,

eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit

in the bond of peace…”

Our world is in desperate need of reconciliation. Many of our communities have become global villages of diverse people – of varying races religions and cultures. To this, the greater Annapolis area is certainly no exception.

Even in this room, we are of varied backgrounds and outlooks, yet we have one thing above all in common… we are reconciled in Christ Jesus, brothers and sisters in His name.

GOD has entrusted us with this message of reconciliation, making us ambassadors for Christ. Let us go therefore, doing all things to His glory.”

Entre nous: this is an enhanced transcript of the report I gave tonight during the Wednesday evening services.

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