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An update on the ministry of Jason and Kristine Stryd 
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The Elephant in the Room

The contrast is so extreme it is hard for me to to describe it.  The group of 50 or so Albanian senior citizens is being led in laughter and Albanian folk songs by Arjani.  He is hilarious and the songs are familiar, the laughter loud and the smiles wide. But just 50 feet from this scene sits one couple from the group.  He has just received word that he has two months to live. The cancer is winning this time and there seems to be no solution.  

And so while the larger group sings and laughs, the small group mourns and likely weeps.  

And this isn’t a one time thing.  Many of this senior group at Vatra face similar health problems, a cancer, a heart issue, a stroke.  If they don't face this themselves they face the suffering of their loved ones like a grandson with severe depression or a daughter left husbandless after he died in an accident.  At times when I arrive on a Friday and greet them their face betrays that they aren’t well.  

I am just starting to get let in on these trials and sufferings.  Men and women one at a time are just starting to tell me what is really going on.  Because I know that the smiles and laughter, though genuine and beautiful, are not the whole story.    The elephant in the room is that they and their loved ones, like all of us are broken, suffering and dying, some day sooner or later.  

It may seem pessimistic to speak of that, but it seems even more cruel, foolish and destructive to not,  to not admit and talk about what is the reality that we can’t avoid.   

There are some Albanians who through faith in God can confront death and face reality, but they are few.  Most, because of communism’s hideous destruction of faith and religion, have no framework for it. All they can do is fear and try to forget the unforgettable.  Holding their loved ones as tight as they can as if that will somehow buy them a little more time.  

 

As I watch this it is sobering.  In one way it helps me appreciate the beautiful and unique reality of Christian community in suffering and death - a pastor visiting to pray and share scripture, friends present weeping and caring, meals made and delivered, cards and letters and flowers.  I am wondering and praying - how do I bring this to Vatra? How do I get them to let me in so that I can pray and share and be present? How do I help them, through Christ, address the Elephant in the room?  

Fridays after my ESL class almost all of my “students” have stuck around as we have gone through Christianity Explored.  The discussion has been lively and their questions open. We stopped for multiple weeks to talk about the Resurrection. They speak of it as if they want to believe it is true, but just can’t.  Atheism is embedded in their worldview and perspective.  

I keep coming back to John 3 and Jesus conversation about being born again.  He compares the mysterious work of the Spirit to the wind blowing - not knowing from where it comes or where it is going but feeling and seeing its effects.   Besides trying to be a faithful presence in their life, praying for this wind is all that I can do. Would you pray with us?

Blow Spirit Blow through this community - bring faith where there has only been skepticism and doubt. Bring gospel hope where there was only fear!

 

Multiplying

 

One of the things that is most encouraging lately is seeing the Albanian believers take lead, ownership and action in ministry.   Filip and Valbona are now directing the Albanian ministry at their church and have befriended a couple that is now joining them for worship every Sunday.  Avni and Rachelle, and Luan and Elida, both brought multiple families to the last picnic. Albi is thinking and praying for the Kosovar Albanian families in his apartment complex.  Geris is using his gifts and wisdom to think strategically about the network as a whole. Together we are praying, planning and moving forward. 3 of the men, Geris, Filip and Albi, will be joining me in traveling to Chicago for the conference of Alliance of Evangelical Albanians in North America.  This is a great opportunity for us to grow together and share the things we are learning in Boston with the larger movement.

Outreach Event Sept 21!

This saturday will be our first outreach gathering of the fall.  We will be having Valentin Veizi, an Albanian composer and musician who is also a believer, come and share his music and testimony.  Valentin is very well known in the Albanian community so we expect a good turnout and a wonderful opportunity to continue to spread the good news.  Would you pray this week for all the logistics that go into this meeting; kids programs, AV, planning and leading? Would you pray that Jesus uses it to continue to bring his Kingdom among Albanians here?




Thanks!

Thank you for your all your prayers and support for our ministry.  We pray that God’s grace to you abounds as you transition into fall and whatever changes it brings for you and your family!  

In Christ,
Jason, Kristine, Caleb and Evette! 

God provides for our ministry through the generosity of churches and individuals like you.  This past spring a local foundation provided us a matching grant up to $500 for each new supporter that joins our team in 2019.   If you are interested in financially supporting our ministry you can mail your donation to:

Mission to North America - PO Box 890233
Charlotte, NC 28289-0233

▪ Please make your checks payable to Mission to North America with a note accompanying the check or money order indicating Christ the King and Jason Stryd

 

You can also make  donations online by credit card and/or set up a recurring donation

 ​https://www.egsnetwork.com/gift2?giftid=7156A875FA4C44A

 


 
Copyright © 2019 Jason Stryd, All rights reserved.


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