The Impact of Community Health Evangelism in Albania
As a reader of WPS articles, I’m sure you have noticed that many stories highlight the physical aspects of transformation we encounter: better health, hygiene and income generation are but a few examples. These, however, are far from the only changes we encounter. The most important changes are spiritual.
The testimony below, was recently submitted by our local partner in Albania, and beautifully highlights what God is doing in the life of Hatixhe, a widow, and her family.
I’m a 40-year-old widow and the mother of two daughters. Even though I grew up in a Muslim family, I never heard about God. Then, when I first learned of Christ, it was during a hard period in my life.
Everything started in 2002, when my husband died—a big disaster for me. I was only 24, with two little daughters and no idea how my life was going to be. I had no job or support from relatives to help provide income for my daughters. I knew I had to move forward alone.
One day a friend of mine told me about some people who had come to a church in our neighborhood. I didn’t pay much attention, as I was locked in my shell and didn’t want to know who these people were. But my friend insisted, inviting me to the church. I didn’t go, but the people came to visit me instead, driven by their desire to know more about my situation.
When I saw them coming, I was concerned about my house. Our living conditions were miserable and I was ashamed of myself. Yet when I met them, they were very kind, showing me warmth. That left me with a special feeling. As they left, they invited me to the church.
I went to the church, but I felt like a stranger. It seemed like everyone was looking at me. As the people talked about Christ, I thought, “Their words don’t help me to eat.” But the pastor’s wife, Luiza, kept me close by, and I slowly began to feel more comfortable.
I went to church very rarely, but something inside was pushing me to continue. I started to learn more about Christ, and this touched and changed me. My faith was growing day by day. During this time, I learned that with God I could make it—that no matter what might happen in my life, he will always be with me.
My village, Iba, is located 20 kilometers away from Tirana. During the period of communism, most people from the 200 families in Iba worked in the local coal mine. But after communism collapsed, the mine was closed and the people lost their jobs. Most didn’t own land, only small gardens, so they had no income to earn their living. The people faced a lot of social problems and poverty. Many had to go abroad or to Tirana to find jobs.
When the new people arrived at the church, they began to lead sessions in community health evangelism. At first, I did not understand what the trainings meant. But later I began to learn how we are able to serve others with what we have around us. This lifted people from feeling helpless to change their life conditions. A committee was formed, and volunteers received their first trainings. These volunteers visited their neighbors to speak about community needs. Small community projects took place, using locally available resources.
Today I’m committee member, and I have learned so much about physical and spiritual needs and how important is to take care of both of them. Our committee meets every week at the church to talk about the Word of God, and also to hold meetings for youth, children and ladies. The last two years we have encouraged families to cultivate seasonal vegetables in their small gardens and to start family businesses to increase their incomes. This year church members collected money to support a fellow member to start a business. These are small but safe steps to help people reduce their poverty and improve their lives.
Because of community health evangelism, I think and work in a different way and have made good decisions in my life. It has been a great support. My children have grown up with love for God, and they’ve learned how to grow in faith and in the Holy Spirit. They are part of the church’s youth group and serve in the children’s meetings. Currently I’m working and supporting my daughters to attend university.
Today I’m a happy mother because I continue my life with Christ, and I work to build my life and my children’s life with him in my heart. We know for sure that God is with us wherever we go, and that wherever we are he is our Lord and leads us every day.