Living with a local host family for three months, deeply immersed in the Albanian language and culture, can be a challenging time for new OMers in Albania. Like many before her, Saskia from Germany found herself wondering if she’d misread God’s will or was making any difference by being there.
But then things happened to silence those nagging doubts, like the time Saskia went to visit a Gypsy family in their home. Although her spoken Albanian was barely good enough to keep the conversation going, Saskia and the family ended up singing worship songs and dancing Albanian dances together. “The joy I saw in their faces that day reminded me why I am here,” recalls Saskia. “I might not have been able yet to tell them about God’s love, but He let me show it and let me spread His joy amongst His beloved children.”
One or two months later, at one of the first Roma and Gypsy youth meetings that she attended in Albania, Saskia met a teenager called Elira*. She had an indefinable ‘something’ which made her stand out from her peers. Although most of the girls who go to the OM meetings regularly attend school, Elira was in and out of school, living in one area and then another with various relatives. Would her earlier dreams of an education ever be fulfilled? More importantly, would she become a wholehearted follower of Jesus?
Fast forward about a year from meeting Elira, Saskia had learnt enough Albanian to be able to lead a discipleship group for the Roma/Gypsy teenage girls, and things were changing in Elira’s young life. After a failed attempt in going to school in Durrës, a coastal city in Albania, Elira was back living in her home town. She eventually started meeting one-on-one with Saskia to study the Bible after the other girls had stopped attending the discipleship group. In September 2018, Elira went back to high school and joined a newly-founded church in town, even getting baptised last October!
Saskia has now finished her commitment with OM, but what a privilege to have journeyed with Elira in this way, as the heart of this ministry is to see the lives of the Roma/Gypsy people transformed by Jesus. Saskia was amazed how God changed Elira in the few years that she had known her — transforming her from a troubled teenager to an excited follower of Jesus!
Please pray that Elira would finish high school and grow in the Word as she serves at her local church.
Pray for Roma/Gypsy girls like Elira and those who had been a part of Saskia’s discipleship group for God to be their first priority. It can be incredibly difficult for Roma/Gypsy girls once they are engaged or married to be as free to be a part of meetings or to pursue their education. Pray that Elira will one day marry a believer who will encourage her to pursue most importantly Jesus, as well as education or whatever path God is leading her towards.
Please pray that new OMers will have persistence and success as they study the Albanian language, which can be very difficult for foreigners to learn.
Praise God for times of encouragement which help them see that in His wisdom, God can use them anyway, however they feel!