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An update on the ministry of Jason and Kristine Stryd 
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Incarnation and Albanians

 

The Incarnation.  The Eternal God became flesh and dwelt among us.  It is an incredible message, as radical as it is beautiful.  It is the message that we proclaim these weeks as we near Christmas.

Yet, what I have been thinking about is how difficult it is for men and women with backgrounds as atheists or agnostics or Muslims to even begin to grasp that reality without an incarnation of a different kind.  The incarnation of OUR witness among them. Someone entering into their world, speaking their language, sitting next to them, hearing their stories, meeting their needs, shaking their hands, looking them in their eyes, and communicating in a way that they can understand the good news. 

This was reinforced to me yesterday afternoon as I visited Worcester.  Worcester is a city of about 200,000 1 hour west of Boston that has about 20,000 Albanians.  Besides a strong cultural Eastern Orthodox presence we have found very little evidence of Bible believing Christianity outside of a few believing families.  

For the last 2 years personally and corporately with other Albanian believers and pastors in Worcester we have been praying for God’s work among Albanians there.   Lord willing this Saturday we are having our first outreach gathering in Worcester. It’s a chance to invite some of the contacts that I have made in the area and, through social media, to fish for others who are interested and potentially open.  A few of the believers and their families from Boston will join us as well. 

    This afternoon after a visit at the church to plan and think about logistics I stopped at a local Albanian cafe called Espresso yourself.   As I walked in I greeted Anna, the Albanian owner whom I have met a few previous visits. She was sitting next to an elderly Albanian woman.  We quickly began talking and I sat down with them.  

    And with that things took off.  Alexandra’s story is heartbreaking.  She is 78 and for the last 6 years has been living in Worcester.  Her husband is back in Albania with her children. She speaks no English only Greek and Albanian.  She came to the US because from the 1950’s to 1971 her Father lived in the US. He came to work and send money back to Albania, but that never happened.  Communism took over Albania and the iron curtain permanently prevented both His return and His sending money. He died in 71.  

    Alexandra grew up poor and persecuted by the communist party because her Father was overseas.  Her kids grew up poor and persecuted too. Finally, one day she came from Greece to America with a dream to find about her father and eventually bring her grown kids and grandkids to America for a better life.  It has not worked out well for her as you can imagine. She is frail and tired, her face betraying the stress and the sleepless nights worrying about her situation and her husband, children and grandchildren back in Albania and Greece.

It seems the Albanian community has helped her survive through hand outs and money.  Anna, the coffee shop owner, has taken special care for her. But she needs more - to pass through the green card process so that finally her husband and children can come and join her here.  But this she can’t do without legal help. And how does a 78 year old woman who speaks no English find that without a lot of help from others.

    I quickly made two phone calls to a couple of legal aid organizations in Worcester.  A small thing that took me 5 minutes but seems like no one has done before. I got a couple of answers and left some messages.  We continued to talk about her life and story when two other Albanian men came. Avni and Luan, looked at me with the normal suspicion of “who is this non Albanian hanging out in this Albanian space?”.  Because I was talking with Alexandra who’s situation they know their suspicion led to asking that question. And as I answered it once again things took off with them and their own stories.

    15 minutes later Refik, whom I had met last time I was in Worcester came in with a friend. I greeted him and they sat down with me.  He came with his cousin, 17 year old Henri who just moved to the US 3 days ago with his Mom.  3 days ago!!!  

    Conversations swirled and flowed; politics and the recent earthquake, language and work, snow and cold.  Eventually I invited them all to our gathering this Saturday.  We all exchanged numbers and eventually I got up from seat, shook hands and walked out the door. 

    In some ways what I did was simple: walking into a cafe, sitting down with a woman, asking some questions, making a phone call.  But these simple actions pried open doors into lives and another world. Why? Because they were incarnational, personal presence with people in their world, sufferings and situations.  

    Will these people show up at our gathering Saturday? I have no idea. They certainly are a step closer to it or to other things related to the gospel.  Because it went from an abstract idea or religious concept to a person. Me. Flesh and blood, speaking their language, drinking their coffee, listening to their stories.  

 

    These next two weeks are full of incredible opportunities for us to share the good news of Jesus.  There is this meeting Saturday in Worcester, then a gathering the 21st in Quincy, and multiple English classes with students and various other meetings.  I am excited about these opportunities to speak about the reality of the incarnation and God dwelling among us to serve and save us. Would you pray for these opportunities and for words that are timely and pointed?
But would you also pray for our continued incarnation of the gospel among Albanians? These things remind me again today that this is what is really needed. Not just me, because I am one limited person, but the for the whole team of believers that God has gathered in Boston.  That through us and our presence God’s love would be made manifest and his good news demonstrated.

This Christmas may you marvel in new awe and worship at the incarnation - God becoming flesh and living among us. And May this propel you and I into the simple yet profound calling of incarnating that message to the people God has put in our lives!

Merry Christmas!

Jason, Kristine, Caleb and Evette


 
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

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

 


 
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