An update on the ministry of Jason and Kristine Stryd 
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“Barcaleta” the word stung in my ears and has lain embedded in my heart over these last days.  I was at Vatra on my way out the door after doing a presentation about Easter to most of the 70 or so Albanian Senior citizens.  On the way out Agron, the director of Vatra and I were at the door talking with a few others. Agron Is an Albanian Orthodox believer and he wished me Happy Easter.  A couple of the other Albanians went back and forth with him about it and he mentioned to them the story of Thomas and the idea that blessed are those who do not see yet believe. That is when one of the other Albanians who works in the center said something like.. “enough with those ‘Barceleta”.   Its a word that means something like fairy tales or folk stories. The kind of made up stories you read to children.

    I am not sure why that comment has struck me so.   I know that a large percentage of Albanians would believe that the gospel stories are just that, "barcaleta", fairy tales.  But usually I don’t hear such comments so openly, probably because to my face they smile and listen respectfully.

    But as I presented the story of the Passover and Easter to the group at Vatra, that is what I saw in the eyes and faces of many.  Doubt, skepticism, and dismissal. It didn't’ help that my presentation didn’t go so well. I had problems with my powerpoint and the clip from a film I was trying to play that left me flustered and my Albanian choppy.  

    I left that Good Friday impacted by it all; my own weakness, atheism’s impact on aging Albanian men and women, and the terrible reality of those who would dismiss the Easter story as a fairy tale.  Terrible, not because of it offending me or being a rejection of me, but because of the tragic rejection of the greatest news in the world. A rejection that will have eternal ramifications.


    It reminded me of the road of rejection that Jesus walked, coming for his people who then rejected him.  It reminded me of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem as he approached it, weeping because they didn’t recognize the time of God’s visitation.   And tragically this is repeated time and time again as the gospel is preached on Easter Sunday, Good Friday or any other day and moment. Men and women being visited by God through his gospel, having opportunity to believe, to hear, to embrace.  


    The next day I tried again.  This time to a group of 60 or so adults and children at our Easter gathering.  It was much different. The room was filled with families, 6 of them believing families who came to serve and help and share the message of Easter.  The others came knowing what they were coming for, to hear about Easter and Jesus. And as I spoke I saw something different in most of their faces. Not skepticism and dismissal, but intrigue and wonder.  


    One of those faces was Zhaneta’s..  She was at the Vatra presentation too.  She is near 80 and yet has the mind and openness of a child.  For 10 plus years now she has been impacted by her friend Karen and ESL classes and Bible Studies.  Her and her husband Frederik who is in his late 80’s come any chance they can get. She was excited after the talk, so glad that she understood in new ways how Jesus was the fufilment of the Passover and the Lamb of God.  

    Another one of those faces was Landi.  Landi and his wife and their three young children have been coming every meeting since September.  They drive between 45 minutes to an hour to come from Taunton, MA.  They are hungry for the fellowship and the Word.  I sat with Landi for a while after the gathering as he asked questions about how forgiveness can be so free and why some people can abuse it.  We opened Scripture together and talked for a while. Another one of the believers, Albi, joined us.

    His posture couldn’t be of a greater contrast to those of so many you and I encounter.  His questions were sincere and searching and he eagerly listened to answers. He was not trying to stump me, defeat me, or demonstrate his superior knowledge.  

    I can’t wait to talk more with Landi and his family.  I am planning on beginning the Christianity Explored material with them at their home later this week.  

    You see, what is happening in Landi’s life and the others is miraculous.  It is of the same Spirit and power and nature of the Sunday morning when Jesus Christ walked out of the tomb.  Life out of death. The Dead coming alive.

    Paul said “ But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.  For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God's word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ. - 2 Corinthians 2:14-17


    This weekend was again a lesson and reminder of these contrasts, rejection and wonder, death and life, those who are perishing and those who are being saved.  I am learning that this reality around me should simultaneously produce in me mourning and joy, weeping and wonder, tears and testimony.

    Who is sufficient for these things? 
    This week I was dwelling on how the nature of what I do and the mission of the Church requires rejection.  A lot of it. I am constantly inviting people; to an event, to read something, to a Bible study, to learn more about Jesus.  And most of the time the invitation is rejected. Often with a smile and an excuse, but nonetheless rejected.

How do I not shrink back?  How does the rejection and the aroma of death not dampen my courage and shrivel my faith?  Two things have come to mind this weekend.    

First of all, because in this I experience an infinitely small taste of what Jesus walked through and God the Father endures, all day long, all history long he has held his hands out for humanity. To share in that in some small way is a privilege and powerful.

And secondly, because I know that in the crowd somewhere is a Landi or a Zhaneta, a Tomorro or a Sandri, a Margarita or a Agron.  Someone whom God is calling from death to life. Someone for whom the gospel is the aroma of glory.  

    Thanks be to God, who, in Christ, always leads us in the triumphal procession of the Risen Savior and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.


    He is Risen!

Would you pray?

Friday I will begin a Christianity Explored Discussion at Vatra Senior Center.  This is a wonderful open door that has come after nearly a year of teaching English, relationships and prayer.  Would you pray for some of the 70 Albanians to be interested and open to join the discussion and that the Spirit would be bring revivial and new birth among the Albanians of this generation.  
God provides for our ministry through the generosity of churches and individuals like you.  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



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