Spark Ministries wants to bring some ‘sparkle’ to your day!
Thank you for those of you who are able to follow us on Facebook and for the many encouragements via email or social media. In this newsletter, we want to bring you up to date with this years’ exiting developments. Be encouraged by what God is doing in and through our ministries here in Albania.
Rachel continues to be based in Tirana. She is soon to apply for Albanian citizenship which will smooth the administration of the foundation. She’s in the process of planning her annual UK trip in January – February as usual. Prior to this she will visit with US churches in the Dartmouth/New Bedford area of Massachusetts. She is looking forward to meeting many of you on her travels.
Vali remains at the helm in Shengjin, running the weekly children’s outreach discipleship and now a bi-weekly youth club along with visiting mums for coffee. She has had a difficult year with her mum’s passing but is thankful that her mum made a clear confession of faith in her latter months. Vali will be joining Rachel (Visa permitting) on her UK visit this winter, please pray for this.
Matilda has grown in her presenting abilities over this last year but we are sad to say that she officially left us at the end of October. She continued to help with this season’s winter outreaches for which we are very grateful. A number of things including lack of sponsorship funding have persuaded her to return to kindergarten teaching – we wish her well. We’re so please that she is keen to occasionally help out in the future.
We give an excited “welcome on team” to Genta Gjergj, who’s been appointed as ‘Director of Operations and Programs’. This is an answer to prayer and will be a huge help to Rachel in implementing change and expansion as we move to the next level. Genta, coming from a background of 10 years working in several large children’s NGOs, will play a key role, initially in strengthening our infrastructure for growth, recruitment, and developing our sustainability. We believe she is the right person for the job and we anticipate many new opportunities being opened up.
Spark and Splash Projects
We are thankful that the outreach van is still going strong. It continues with the Spark Project, where we run 12-week partnerships with churches to develop their youth work, and helping them to better serve the community. It’s based on a social and moral teaching and we’ve settled into a successful spring and autumn pattern. Our exciting new venture is the Splash Project which fills the summer period. Each week we work with a different local church and it is thoroughly evangelistic in emphasis. To date, through both projects, we have introduced 8,286 new children to 43 Albanian churches. Please pray for these children, and the many new church contacts. We thank God for our loyal volunteer helpers who make these projects possible – without them we simply could not undertake the ministry.
Spark Ministries’ vision is not only restricted to Albania, we also serve Albanian speaking areas of bordering countries: Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia and Greece. We have been praying for a number of years to expand into these under-evangelised areas. We aim to launch the Spark Project in Kosovo in spring 2018 and we are discussing with a church in Macedonia who are very keen to run our Splash Project in the summer. We are excited by the prospect and potential in advancing the Christian gospel to children in our neighbouring countries.
Whilst camp ministry is strenuous in every way, financially, physically, and demanding on manpower and resources, there is no other ministry so successful for bearing fruit. We enjoyed serving the 99 children and young people from as far south as Berat and as far north as Tropojë this year. The two weeks of camp saw 30 give their lives to Jesus and many others deepen their faith. All this was possible due to the commitment and hard-work from the team of seven from the UK, five Albanian staff, and the church carers. We are hugely grateful to each one of them, along with the generous friends and churches who sponsored Kids2Kamp – thank you! Sponsoring a child for 2018 will be the same £30/$45 and can be done on line through the website after the 5th of Jan.
We are still on a journey to expand our camp ministry. As you may recall we have felt led for a number of years to purchase land and to build our own facility. So far, we have been hindered by lack of finances to make any serious negotiations with land owners, until recently when we have received two large gifts. Though we do not have sufficient funds to purchase land outright we are moving closer towards our goal and would appreciate your prayerful support
– this will be a colossal step for us to take, but we do believe God is urging us forward.
We feel a responsibility to aid world missions by exposing people and teams to a missions experience. At different times of the year we host short-term teams – for example Mattersey Hall Bible College annually send
s a team of students. We would like to receive more teams like this, and also include long-term personnel. To achieve this better, we want to appoint a missions-team coordinator. This post needs someone who has a heart for mission, has understanding of children’s ministries and has mentoring/pastoral gifts. Please pray about this need and contact us for more information if you or anyone you know fits these criteria and feels God’s leading.
Equipping Local Churches
One of Spark Ministries’ objectives is to equip the local churches for children’s ministries that are fun, interesting and creative. A practical outcome of this is our lending library from where churches can borrow resources like puppets, teaching series, games and activity equipment etc. Whilst we encourage the local churches to build-up their own resources, the lending library helps them to get established. We are keen to make this more accessible and with a bigger range of materials to better serve our growing church partnerships. If you have good quality items suitable for use in children’s ministry that you could donate or are able to make a financial gift to buy equipment for this developing project, please get in touch.
‘Children in Focus’ Conference
You may recall a few years ago, following Rachel’s initiating talks with various Albanian children’s organisations, a National Children’s Workers’ Network (Fëmijë në Fokus) was established. One of the outcomes has been a national conference each September to better equip, train, encourage and challenge children’s ministries in Albania. We were privileged to have the Rev. Dr Mark Griffiths from the UK as our keynote speaker this year and his latest book ‘Changing Lives’ will soon be translated into Albanian. Perhaps at our next conference Bill Wilson of ‘Metro World Child’ will join us!
Moving with the times
Even in Albania, particularly large towns and the city, children now have access to smart phones, tablets and the internet. For a number of years, we have recognised the need for an online means to reach these Albanian children through this medium with the message of Jesus, in their own language and in a relevant way. In February this year Rachel met with Scripture Union in the UK to talk about the possibility of ‘Guardians of Ancora’ which is a free bible-gaming app to be made available in the Albanian language. Thankful for their openness we, together with Scripture Union Kosova and Radio 7, we have now translated and edited the text and it’s now in the hands of Scripture Union UK who are applying it to the app. We aim to launch Easter week 2018 with a MASSIVE advertising campaign which we know will be costly. It’s one thing having this amazing app but having good advertising is imperative so that parents and children can download it and use it to impact their lives! The potential of this free app being accessible in nearly every home in Albania is huge. Are you able to invest in this amazing project? More information on how you could support a piece of advertising or TV air time coming in February.
Date for the diary:
October 2020 is our 20th Anniversary. We’re planning three days of celebration to mark God’s faithfulness to our Shkendije ministry: Thursday 1— Saturday 3 October. And on Friday 2 October we are planning a bumper evening to celebrate this mile stone in real style. We are also planning events which will give visitors a very special Albanian cultural experience, and an opportunity to encounter our unique mission work. More information will follow, but do mark the dates in your diary.
Into the New Year please pray for:
- The next level for Shkëndijë – Genta to settle in quickly; the strengthening of our foundations; the building of our capacity and self-sustainability.
- New staff needed – Office Administrator (Albanian), Project Manager (Albanian), Multi Media Promoter and Designer, Mission’s Team Coordinator (UK),
- Wisdom in the bigger picture of camp development and as we enter phase one of land purchase.
- A church plant to start in Shengjin
- To serve greater (the local church in their children’s ministries), reach wider (children across Albania’s boarders), love more (the hurting children).
Thank you for taking to time to read our news. We appreciate greatly your interest, prayers and commitment to this Ministry. And again have a very Merry Christmas!
Rachel Wilson and The ‘Spark Ministries’ team