When God called Delmar, Nati, and three-year-old Clara to serve in Albania, the missionary family packed their bags and prepared for a new adventure!
“We’re both from Brazil,” Nati said, “and I think God put a desire in our hearts to serve in a different place. . . . A place where we wouldn’t be comfortable. Somewhere that would challenge both of our ministries.”
Delmar and Nati learned quickly that there would be plenty of challenges to sharing the gospel in this 10/40 Window country.
For years, Albania was a communist territory, banning religion and declaring itself the world’s first and only atheist state. Communism collapsed in 1990 but, even today, religion doesn’t seem to be a priority for most people.
Delmar, Nati, and Clara were assigned to serve in in the city of Korce, at the first Adventist church built in the country in 1994. Their first year was especially difficult. Despite their efforts, there wasn’t a single baptism or even anyone interested in Bible studies.
“I was very discouraged,” Delmar shared. “I couldn’t see anything big happening in the church. I couldn’t even see anything changing in the church. We associate big things with big numbers. . . . I was trying to do my best . . . to do something big or important according to my understanding.”
Albania is in the 10/40 Window, a region of the world where most of the people have never heard the name of Jesus.
10/40 Window Fast Facts
• Stretches from North Africa through the Middle East and into Asia
• Is where two-thirds of the world’s population live
• Is home to most of the world’s major religions
• Has the globe’s largest cities and poorest people.
• Has more than 5,800 unreached people groups among roughly 3 billion people
How can you help?
Please pray for and support missionaries through your mission offerings at Sabbath School and online at adventistmission.org/donate.
Please pray for our Global Mission pioneers and Urban Centers of Influence and support them at Global-Mission.org/giving.
At the peak of his frustration, Delmar received a call to pastor a large church in Brazil. The offer seemed to come at the perfect time.
Delmar told his wife, “We’ve got a call to go back to Brazil. We’re not doing anything here anyway. So, why don’t we just leave?”
“Do you think we did everything we could in Albania?” she replied. “Do you really think it’s time for us to leave? I personally think we should stay. The Lord has something prepared for us here. Maybe He wants to teach us something and still wants to use us.”
Delmar and Nati decided to decline the opportunity in Brazil. Instead, they prayed about how God could use them in this challenging part of the world. Then they noticed that there were many children in their neighborhood. Maybe this was a good place to start!
The couple prepared a place to play volleyball and invited the kids to play. “This just happened naturally,” Delmar explained. “They started coming two times a week. In a few weeks, they knew me as a pastor; they knew Nati; they knew Clara very well. Then the kids started coming to church. We were so excited because the church was full!”
Angela, one of the church members, brought her friend Fatjon to church with her every few months, and soon Fatjon and Delmar became friends. They started talking about God and studying the Bible together, and Delmar invited Fatjon to be part of the group.
“He was really excited and engaged with us,” Delmar recalled. “He told me, ‘I want to help these kids, I want to serve this community.’ ” In just a few weeks, Fatjon was helping Delmar and Nati with the kids, and the kids loved him. “All these activities brought us together, and I had the privilege to baptize Fatjon as my first baptism in Albania,” Delmar said. “I was so happy to see the Lord answering our prayers!”
The love of Jesus touched Fatjon’s heart, and he now shares this with others. “When we follow Christ’s method, others can see it,” Fatjon observed. “I pray for the hearts of the people in the community to warm up and for them to follow Jesus.”
Now the church members in Korce are connecting with their community through a Global Mission Urban Center of Influence. Nati teaches music lessons, while others teach language classes. There’s even a health club. All of this has led to new faces at church on Sabbath morning.
“When you try something new and you see it working, it gives you hope,” Nati said. “This motivated us to try different things.”
Things are changing in Korce and not just at the church. “When we were called to come as missionaries, I thought I was ready to change the world,” Delmar shared. “But it took me maybe one year to realize that before I did anything, the Lord was trying to change me.”
Please pray for this ministry as it continues to grow and integrate into the community. And pray for missionary families such as Delmar, Nati, and Clara, who are serving on the front lines of mission.
Thank you for supporting the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church!
* All names have been changed.