Our first work in the northern Albanian city of Shkoder was in light of the Kosovo missile and refugee crisis. It was working with the refugees that we met our first Albanian employee, Mirela, and is a place we have been blessed to see this ministry flourish.
We now work in two government orphanages in Shkoder, one each for babies and school age children. We also support a mental and physical handicap home in Shkoder called the Center for Development, as well as a growing community outreach and feeding program.
Prenda Zefi directs our wonderful baby orphanage for children from infancy up to four years old. These precious babies are loved, held, sang to and prayed over daily.
When we first came to Albania, the state workers were discouraged from holding the babies because it made them unruly the rest of the time, which was most of the time.
Prenda won't put them down!! She loves these babies as her own, and it shows!
The school-age orphanage in Shkoder generally has between twenty-five and forty children from six to sixteen years old. Fred Zefi is our director of operations in Shkoder, as well as the director of this particular home. The age and number of children here can be overwhelming, but there is no one better to deal with that than our Fredi.
From sport to study to duty to discipleship, Fredi runs a tight ship. We see these children through their developmental years and do everything we can to prepare them for the world beyond.
It is hard to see our children go out into the adult world where we can no longer look over them, knowing the obstacles they're up against. However, where we once saw them leaving with bleak outlooks and fewer prospects, we now see confident, integrated and hopeful young adults taking the light of God out into the world with them.
Our Center for Development in Shkoder is a little different from our other works, and perhaps a little harder to see. While still understaffed on state funds, this branch of our ministry has become a huge blessing since the Albanian government asked us to help out there in 1995.
This facility is the home to around fifty mentally and physically handicapped Albanians who have nowhere else to go or any other means of living. It also provides day treatment to another thirty-five to forty patients who are able to live off-site. This work has been a particular challenge because nearly every patient has vastly different needs, therapy, medication, etc.
It is Mirela Ymeraj who ministers to the special needs patients here with her soft voice and sweet spirit. Mirela was our first Albanian employee, coming to us in 1997 and having served faithfully ever since. This sort of work takes a special sort of love and patience, but the rewards are many when you see the smiles and pure love on the faces of these precious souls.
From group activities to teaching life skills to building spiritual foundations, Mirela and the rest of the Shkoder staff pour from their own souls into this Center for Development that was otherwise a very stark and hopeless place.
Our director in Shkoder, Fredi Zefi, has a huge heart for his community beyond even the work he does with the orphans. Over the past couple of years, Fredi has begun a ministry to the Roma gypsy population living in a small village across the river from the main city.
We began with a service to provide much needed food items to those in need, and before long Fredi had a standing slot to teach a bible lesson for the children of the village.
We are so thrilled at the way this new ministry has thrived and we are beginning to see a population entirely unfamiliar with the Gospel open up to the love and Message of Christ.
Along with caring for the needy in Albania for over 25 years, Roger and Cherie have spent a lifetime in Evangelism, Gospel music and soul-winning services for Christ Jesus.
"...be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." - 1 Cor. 15:58