Monday, 9 June 2014

Latest news from James and Lori - June 2014

June 2014. Prayer letter from Albania

Dear friends, warm greetings from Gjirokaster Albania!

The summer is upon us and the weather here is warming up. God willing we will have lots of activities and outreach during the next months. School holidays are very long in Albania; from mid June until September! So there's plenty of opportunity to run camps. Apart from this, the hot days always bring people outside – especially in the evenings when the sun is less strong. In villages in 'the cool of the day' the squares become filled with people simply sitting around, and in town the main streets are filled with strollers.
We have a message of eternal importance that we wish to bring to children and adults alike! How can we best do this? How do we reach the right people? How can we present the message of Jesus to children and young people in a way that they can understand clearly? How can we best use the time? These are some of the questions that we face each year. 
But ultimately we are very aware that it is the Lord who saves. We are so dependent on Him to be at work in people's hearts, in circumstances, and in our own hearts too. Please then, do pray for us over the next few months for these things.

Below is a calendar of events in the Summer, and below that a few explanations.

1st -18th Registrations for camps.
18Th – 27th Day camps in Gjirokaster 1 & 2
22nd Geni and Nikoleta's wedding!
30th – 4th Day camp in Ballsh
7th - 11th Day camps in Tepelena
12th - 19th Beach Camp for children from villages
19th – 26th Beach Camp for children from towns
4th-17th Village and town outreach
23rd-30th Evangelistic Family Camp.

Beach Camps for Children
We're actually half way through registering children for our Summer camps now. We always have a lot of children who want to come from the towns, the challenge is choosing which children to take. This year we aimed to have a week just for children from outside the main towns (from villages and small towns). It's a lot harder to get children from these places to come. Parents often don't give their consent. As I've mentioned before we hope that trust built up during out English teaching and through the Operation Christmas Child program might open a door here. Teachers and headmasters of schools have been very positive so far and have helped a lot. This week we will be going back to several schools to collect application forms. Please pray that parents would give their children permission to come – especially from villages. Pray also for registraions in towns that God would overrule in who we take.

Day Camps in Gjirokaster, Tepelena & Ballsh
These are for younger chilren. They come in the mornings but sleep at home. As you can see from the calendar we will be having these in three places. Around 50-60 children are due to come for each camp, so over 200 children in total. As with the beach camps – these are all from non-christian families. This will be an opportunity for them to hear the Gospel.

Village Outreach.
We plan to spend some time in August focusing on outreach in villages in the evenings. We're still planning this, but it will probably involve some open-air preaching as well as other activities. We usually use the projector to show a short film as it helps to draw a crowd and if there are children, we have a separate children's program. We hope to go to some of the villages that have given us a warm welcome in the past, as well as some of the more remote ones. Last year New Testaments were given to individuals that showed interest.
Evangelistic Family Camp.
This is a camp for non-christian families. There are evangelistic talks in the evenings and plenty of opportunity in the day time during meals and beach time for personal witness. It's aimed at reaching whole families – so is quite unique in this respect.

Family News
Ana is doing well and had her first vaccines without any problems. John is excited about the summer and is looking forward to swimming in the sea (as is Daddy)! Lori has enjoyed being home and seeing her friends
Other news: Geni Dogani, our close friend and pastor in Memaliaj, is getting married at the end of June! 

Thank you for your interest, prayer and support,

James, Lori, John & Ana

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Decision time

Numbers 13:3-16
Before I became a pastor I was challenged in my study of the bible when a guy by the name of Jeff Adams was visiting our pastor, and shared in the bible study that week how he had studied Joshua 15, and the meaning of the name Achsah (meaning anklet) for some weeks before coming to an understanding of how this applied to his life. The resulting study was amazing, and for me life changing, as I began to understand the wealth of the word of God. A year or so later when I began to preach I applied myself to understanding what God was saying through every word of scripture, as it says in 2 Timothy 3:16, resulting in a sermon on the meaning of the names of the twelve spies Moses sent into the land of Canaan. Sadly I lost my notes in the intervening years, and so what follows is by no means as detailed as I uncovered at the time, but I hope it gives you a taste of why you should never skip through lists of names thinking them devoid of meaning.

Here are the names, in the order they appear in scripture, along with their Strongs reference, and meanings, from Strongs.

Shammua = H8071 - Renowned, root H8074 Made destitute
Shaphat = H8202 - Judge
Caleb = H3612 - Yelp, exclaim
 Son of Jephunneh = H3312 - Will be prepared
Igal = H3008 - Avenger
Oshea = H1954 - Deliverer
Palti = H6406 - Delivered
Gaddiel = H1427 - Fortune of God
Gaddi = H1426, Root H1424 - Fortunate
Ammiel = H5988 - The people of God
Sethur = H5639 - Hidden/Secret
 Son of Michael = H4317 - Who is Like God?
Nahbi = H5147 - Occult (Knowledge of the hidden) , to hide
Geuel = H1345 - Majesty of God

What does this all mean? It describes the life of a man living a life without God, being challenged by him, coming to salvation, living a life as part of the body of Christ, and ending before the throne of God in Heaven. See how the names, in the order given (which is not the order of the tribes or anything like that) fit perfectly to a life like this.

We begin our lives sure of ourselves and try to build a name for ourselves, but God will bring us down a peg in time.  Isaiah 2:11-12. Then he will judge, we will be judged.
Thankfully, when God judges he also prepares the hearts of those that will listen to him Galatians 3:24, and recognise their failing, and know that they deserve death. Romans 6:23.
In accepting Christ as our saviour, we are delivered from bondage to sin Ephesians 2:8-9. We receive of the grace of God Romans 3:20-24, and are fortunate indeed. We become the people of God John 1:12. More than that, we become part of the body of Christ, the church, the hidden mystery of God Ephesians 3:8-10.
And in the end, whether we die, or he returns we shall see his glory Philippians 2:8-10.

The spies returned and faced a decision, to go into the land and be part of the promise, or to stay with what they knew in the desert. We face the same decision in turning to salvation, and again in living for Christ. What is your decision?