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Albanian Women’s Retreat Reaches beyond Women and Adventists

It’s a women’s retreat—so you expect women, with possibly the odd spouse hanging around at the back or helping with logistics, but when you find the back row filled with elderly Muslim men you know something special is happening.

The occasion was the Albanian Mission women’s retreat in Durres, June 2–4. This annual retreat has always been evangelistic as the church members bring their friends and relatives. This year was no exception with 20 of the 38 women in attendance coming from outside the church, some hearing the Good News of Jesus for the very first time.

What was exceptional, and demonstrated the interest and relevance of the program, was that several elderly Muslim men from Kosovo who were staying in the same hotel, chose to join in and listen very attentively – including taking part in the spiritual activities such as pinning prayer requests to the prayer tree.

Using the theme, “Jesus in all four seasons of your life,” Clair Sanches, Trans-European Division Women’s Ministries director, helped each participant reflect on how winter is the time to get to know yourself and to be honest with God; how Jesus brings joy to our life in spring; how Jesus is with us even in summer heat; and how we can bear fruit just like trees in autumn if we let Jesus into our heart.

Each woman created a prayer journal throughout the three days. This would serve as a reminder to regularly spend time with God. However, the most remembered activity was the tree of prayers. This was created during the program, but Clair promised to take it home where she could continue to share the requests and thanks with God. Such a promise, together with God’s presence which could be felt throughout the meetings, touched many hearts and inspired them to open themselves up to Jesus.

While the weekend is over, its impact is still being felt. Flora and Ana from Tirana have decided to come to church more regularly and to start baptismal classes. Flutura had her first encounter with Jesus at the retreat and is now regularly attending the Elbasan church. In addition, her daughters are going to enroll in Pathfinders. The weekend touched many lives and will continue to have an effect for years to come.


This article was written by Sanda Veidemane-Thomollari and originally published by the TED News Network.

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