In July, coworkers Karen, Bill and Quinn (whom I coached) led a mission trip to Albania where they partnered with a local church and national Cru staff to put on a basketball, volleyball and soccer sports camp for over 150 Albanian students. Two college seniors went on that trip: Hannah and Adele. Adele was born in Albania and was adopted by a believing family in the U.S. This was her first time back. She grew up watching “Struggle and Triumph: The Prize,” a video produced by AIA featuring the faith stories of world-renowned soccer players. She is also a soccer player. During the camp Adele had a chance to share her testimony. She shared that when she found out she was adopted, she felt purposeless, rejected, and unwanted by her birth mother and her country of origin. But Adele learned that she was wanted and loved by her Creator, whom she now knows.
Many of the students who heard Adele’s story came up to her afterward and said they also experienced feelings of being unwanted. Hannah (the other senior) and Alfrieda (a Cru staff member) met with some of those students later for coffee, and two of them prayed to receive Christ. Some of the Albanian students told Adele, “You fit here. We love you. You are wanted here. We’re so excited and happy you’re here.” It was redeeming for her.
At least seven people came to Christ during this trip, and there will be others who can now connect to the church in Korçë, Albania. Adele shared her story; others followed up to share the gospel; still others will disciple these new believers. Win, build, send is in the DNA of Athletes in Action, and this trip had it all!
In college, I remember hearing a missionary’s report on the state of world missions. At that time he said there were NO KNOWN Christ followers in the country of Albania. But God has never stopped working. Next month the AIA Global Team will be in Albania to meet with 18 AIA national leaders and to put on a launch event with churches to equip them to start sports ministries. Praise God!
Thank you for your prayers and gifts that enable us to serve the Lord and help others to serve Him. We are grateful for you!