The confinement in our homes is forcing millions to stop abruptly, cancel all our plans, and take time to look in the mirror.
A local Christian businessman offered his fleet of large vehicles to distribute aid and transport people around the clock truly becoming the feet of our undertaking to be God’s caring hands to hurting people.
This Christmas of 2019 comes shortly after a major crisis in Albania with the devastating earthquakes that left 51 persons dead and over 600 injured beside over 5000 displaced people.
Christmas normally comes at the time of the greatest darkness offering the hope and joy of the light and love in the face of Christ. Our prayer and efforts as Evangelicals have been to show such great love and care we know to those who are in greatest turmoil.
The people who suffered the most from the recent earthquakes were those who lived in old and poorly made buildings which is also an indication of the majority of them being economically challenged in an already poor country. The first response by the government and other organizations including the Evangelical Church in Albania was admirable with providing food and clothing in a short time but in this situation the needs are deeper and more difficult to address in a short time. The need for emotional and mental counseling and help, as well as the need for mid term sheltering and future rebuilding remain a challenge.
The Evangelical Alliance of Albania (VUSH) was present from the first morning after the earthquake with representatives in the devastated areas and the following day was organized with an Emergency Committee and Regional Coordinators to match needs with available resources as quickly and adequately as possible. A local Christian businessman offered his fleet of large vehicles to distribute aid and transport people around the clock truly becoming the feet of our undertaking to be God’s caring hands to hurting people.
Partnering with various groups and organizations we helped bring not only materials to the victims of the earthquake but professional counseling and trained people to lend a listening ear to those emotionally traumatized.
Several Evangelical Children organizations were also involved in different ways to bring a smile to the children of the affected areas preparing also some helpful material to address the emotional aspects of the healing process after the trauma.
Evangelicals were present in eight locations but in five of them, Durres, Shijak, Vore, Thumane and Lac, there was daily service including provision of warm meals to the victims of the earthquakes through the local churches in the vicinity.
Entering a new phase in our service to the victims of the earthquake means that according to some partial evaluations we need to prioritize helping the families of some believers most dramatically affected from the earthquakes which includes 26 houses of believers identified as in need of rebuilding in the area of Thumana, Laci, Shijaku and Vora. There are at least two church buildings in need of rebuilding, in Thumana and in Tirana, and while the government has given indications that funds will be available for private houses it has been communicated that the other buildings will not receive any government funds.
We live in a country where insurance for earthquakes is not common and therefore it will require major fundraising efforts to rehabilitate the houses of our believing families and especially for our destroyed churches.
We have opened a “Go Fund Me” page and are hoping that this will be one of many other means to provide the much needed funding for returning to some normalcy the life of those affected.
In the midst of continuing pain and grief, loss and hardship, we seek the help of God to continue to use us as channels of hope and love and joy in spite of circumstances.
Please pray with us for God’s direction in the developing dynamics of this crisis so we remain faithful and wise in our help for the most disadvantaged among us while we appropriately, gently and sensitively also connect them with the source of all good things, our dear Lord Jesus Christ.
Ylli Doci, President of the Albanian Evangelical Alliance (Vush).