Dan and Annie Dupree joined CFS with Dan training with us for 3 years as a student minister. Deep in the DNA of the church is to send people out to be God’s agents elsewhere. After 3 great years with us we sent them off to Albania. They are still deeply part of our family and this is how they tell of what happened next…
In 2014 we arrived in Albania and were shocked by the poverty – children living on landfill sites. Just imagine for a moment going down to your local dump and finding children and babies playing there, living in the rubbish and dirt. Excluded people, without access to the basics we all take for granted, such as decent health care, jobs, education, food and a safe place to live. A divided community where such was the division and mistrust that neighbours refused to share a room with one another.
Our response was to establish an Albanian charity with the aim of empowering local people to bring about a flourishing community closer to God’s heart. So in January 2016 ‘Tek Ura’ was born, which simply means ‘at the bridge’. Forward wind to summer 2018, and Tek Ura has welcomed 1000s of attendances to projects and activities that celebrate life, empower and include people of all backgrounds. To receive therapy in our clinic, a chance of an education from our teachers, to be heard at our forums. Incredibly, those who were once divided are now serving one another, worshipping God together. It was a joy to baptise our first believer in May. A woman whose journey to faith took her from the very depths of despair, living from the bins, to a joyous declaration that ‘Jesus is my everything’. Her remarkable story has been one of transformation through forgiveness, of those who mistreated her as a young woman, and of the people who regarded her as a figure of shame.
A small church has emerged, ‘Komuniteti i Besimit’. Our community has celebrated a healing when a young man involved in a car crash, and left in a coma, was restored to health. When the doctors and our team looked at his scans it seemed that there was little hope of a meaningful recovery. Yet, a few months later he is walking, talking and living an independent life. To hear members of the community call this a miracle and an answer to their prayers has been truly inspiring.
Those who recently wondered if God could love people ‘like them’, or indeed a neighbourhood like theirs, have encountered God. A once divided people, transformed by the love of God, are writing their own songs, seeking to put Jesus at the centre of their lives, and pledging to love one another more deeply. A community being transformed by God’s love, raising its hands to pray in the Spirit. Hallelujah!