Another glorious trip to Albania
We had promised to come again when we said Good-bye in February, so back we were in April. Not the whole Bakhtiari Family, but Javad and many other great and highly motivated people from different ministries. It wasn’t a time without opposition and struggle, but it was glorious. We could see God’s love for the Afghan people and how they responded to the atmosphere of His presence.
Javad’s role was to conduct cultural introduction with the newcomers on the team, to organise the logistics around all events and to build connections between the various groups of internationals, locals and the Afghans. It was beautiful to see many loose strings coming together closer and starting to form a stronger net.
As a team we were walking together, praying together for the city, the nation of Albania, the Afghan evacuees, serving alongside the local church and, of course, praying for each other.
In the mornings the place where our team was staying became a kid’s club. Afghan children and teenagers were invited to hang out here, have fun, play, be creative and make new friends. They enjoyed so much that most days they already waited outside half an hour before the program started and whenever we had to bring them home to their parents they did not want to leave.
In the evenings, after breaking the fast (it was the time of Ramadan), we transformed our place into a tea house, where the Afghan parents and older youth were welcome to sit down with a cup of tea and snacks, to play card games, board games, to chat and build friendships. We heard many of them say, how precious it was to them, to find people who have an open ear for their stories, who just love them and show kindness, even though at the beginning most of them were strangers to each other. Once again we saw Love overcome boundaries and break down walls.
And again: Soccer, the taste of Afghan food and lots of fun
They asked for it, so our friend Danny and his team delivered: The highlight for all professional and hobby athletes among our Afghan friends was yet another football tournament, preceded by a great opening evening with delicious Afghan food, where most participating teams – international, local and Afghan – could meet and greet and have a good time together.
At the tournament 50 participants from Afghanistan, Albania and all over the world were kicking the ball across the field, among them two female teams (Albanian and Afghan). More then 100 people were watching the matches and the atmosphere was passionate but peaceful.
We had prayed beforehand for peace to dominate the atmosphere, as the theme of our tournament was: “Hope for Peace.”
Danny and his team handed out to each athlete football jerseys with the name and number of the player printed on the back. The message behind it was told openly: God has not forgotten you, He knows your name. That’s why all of us where there, to demonstrate God’s love and show our friends that they were not forgotten.