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TACO Albania Spring - Prayer Update #5

May 9, 2015

Greetings from Albania!

Our show on Thursday was in the 100% Muslim village of Rogozhina. A pastor and others from an established church in nearby Lushnja are planning on starting the first church ever in Rogozhina in October. Our event helped them establish relationships and plant seeds in the community.

The top of the steps outside a theater in the center of town made for a nice elevated stage. The theater also houses political offices. The secretary director was in his office when we were setting up and he questioned us suspiciously, wondering what organization we were with. Once he learned who we were and that we weren't representing any political party, he relaxed and wanted a selfie with Dustin, Kampion Bote (World Champion). Truth be told, during the show more than one member of our team scanned the nearby mosque and tall buildings for snipers but thankfully, there were none to be found.

We had a great crowd in front of us, as well as from the cafes surrounding the square. The show went great and people listened intently to the testimonies and Gospel. A lady was so moved by Neville's song introduction of God healing a friend and her unborn baby, that she came on stage and handed him a bunch of roses as he played. When Dustin shared the Gospel, many raised their hands indicating a desire to follow Jesus! After we had packed up and were about 40 minutes down the road, Sabri got a call from the pastor who said that he was so happy with the show and that there was still a buzz in the square where we had performed with many conversations about Jesus still happening.

Today, Friday, we had a fun show under the hot afternoon sun in a suburb of Tirane at a beautiful center for vulnerable youth. When we arrived, the mosque next door was blaring Friday's "sermon". The students (mostly 15-20 yrs. old) at the center were the most well behaved and respectful audience we've seen in Albania so far. It was special to hear so many verbally repeating the prayer of commitment to follow Jesus. The volunteers started this center in this poor, Muslim area because of the needs of many wives and children who are abused. It is now a regular hangout for students where they experience God's love.

Our originally scheduled show for tomorrow, Saturday, fell through so we are going with Plan B. As long as we don't get rained out and even though we don't have the permissions, we'll perform in an area in Tirane know as the Airfield because during communism it was a military airport.

Thank you for your continued prayers for health for our team as well as for God's continued work in the lives of those touched by His love through our events.

Me Shprese (With Hope),
TACO Albania team

TACO Albania Spring - Prayer update #4

May 8, 2015

Howdy Friends,

Tuesday we drove from Tirana to Berat along beautiful green countryside where the hills were full of homes and farms, olive trees, cemeteries, and round cement bunkers left over from communism (wiki link). Berat is a historical city over 2,000 years old. There is an old castle up on a hill which some from our team hiked up to explore. Sabre, our Albanian tour organizer, grew up in Berat, within the castle walls where there are many modern homes among the ancient structures. You can read more info on Berat here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berat

We performed in the city center Tuesday evening in front of an abandon building where many of the glass panels that lined the front had been broken. We set up among the broken blue glass which was everywhere. We did a quick sweep in the greater performance area to keep glass from lodging in any of Dustin's tires. Someone turned up the heat and it was very warm outside! We delayed our show start time a bit for it to get cooler so more people would be out and about. After the band played a few songs, the local pastor borrowed Paul's guitar and sang 2 songs in Albanian to help delay the rest of our show.

The local church (which was planted after a TACO event 3 years ago) had volunteers helping connect with people, hand out Bibles and literature and invite them to church. One 17 year old girl who was helping, had been at the TACO event 3 years ago and had really connected with Dustin's story and gave her life to Christ at that event. Previously, she had tried to kill herself numerous times, was very depressed and had no hope. Since then, God has totally changed her life, given her purpose and meaning and she has been very involved in the church.

Today, Wednesday, we drove to Kucova for our evening show. The police showed up to close down the street so we could perform. Then they hung around to help keep an eye on things. During the show, the barrier tape which defined our "stage" area broke and a policeman hustled over to fix it for us. Both last night and tonight, a good number of people of all ages responded to the invitation to follow Jesus!

Pray for these new believers and for the churches who will follow-up with people and welcome them into their fellowships. And pray for those who didn't visually respond but heard the Truth and have Bibles and material to read.

Tomorrow we perform in Rogozhino, which is a 100% Muslim village. Pray for prepared hearts. Thank you!

Me Shprese (With Hope),
TACO Albania team

TACO Albania Spring - Prayer update #3

May 7, 2015

Hey Friends,

Monday, our show was in an area just outside Tirane where there was a huge and horrible explosion in 2008 destroying hundreds of homes and buildings, killing 26 people and injuring over 300. You can read more about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008_G%C3%ABrdec_explosions. There was a church in this area before the tragedy but not since. One of the former church members died in the explosion.

Our show was outside a cafe for a very small but enthusiastic and polite audience. A local church planter hosted our event and used it to announce the launch of a new church plant starting this coming Wednesday at a building nearby which was the first to be rebuilt in the area. Such a privilege to be part of the start of a church where one hasn't existed in 7 years!

The pastor wrapped up our show by singing a few Albanian songs of his own. Sabre and a few others from the audience burst into Albanian dancing while he sang. A few guys from our team bravely and humorously jumped in and attempted the fancy steps. Afterward, the pastor blessed everyone on our team with gifts of his CD. Sam connected with a bunch of Albanian guys with his few Albanian phrases and found himself included in a card game in the cafe.

Please pray that many will attend the church meeting on Wednesday in the area where we just presented.

Tomorrow we leave Tirane for a few days and head south. Pray for safe travels and prepared hearts for those we'll share with in Berat and Kuchova the next two days. In Berat, a church was planted as a result of TACO's previous visit. That church has now planted two other churches!

Me Shprese (With Hope),
TACO Albania team

TACO Albania Spring - Prayer update #2

May 7, 2015

Dear Friends,

Saturday evening we presented in a school courtyard for a community in Tirana. There were lots of kids again but because of the setting we were able to keep things more contained and controlled. The band blended together even better. Jarred was a crowd favorite as he created a song with his loop pedal. An older Albanian man really loved Chris' singing and hung out after the show talking up a storm in Italian. He must have had an opera background because he belted out a few Italian tunes of his own. It was quite entertaining.

Many Bibles and other Christian literature were handed out again after the show to eager recipients. Sam talked to an interested guy for quite a while afterwards. This guy is Muslim but really connected with our message and took a Bible home to read. He is struggling financially so pray for his material needs as well as his spiritual needs. Also pray for wisdom as Sam continues to connect with him via Facebook.

Sunday night our show was cozy, as our "stage" and audience were all contained on a sidewalk. Despite the awkward set up, a couple hundred people gathered and quite a few raised their hands indicating a desire to follow Jesus! There is an active church near the area where we performed and many from the church attended and helped. There was a sign on a light pole in the intersection next to us advertising the church location down the road, which Dustin pointed out as he challenged people to connect with the church. There wasn't a place for our grounding rod so a few shocks were delivered to the musicians from their mics and other metal. Thankfully, they all survived and still made great music tonight!

Over 300 Bibles have been handed out at our 3 shows and dozens have indicated a desire to follow Jesus for the first time! Thanks for praying with us for these people to connect with local churches and grow in their understanding of and commitment to God!

Me Shprese (With Hope),

TACO Albania team

TACO Albania Spring - Prayer update #1

May 6, 2015

Dear Friends,

Happy May Day! It's a holiday here in Albania so we have a day off to rehearse and rest.

Our team arrived in Tirane Albania on Tuesday, March 28. We consist of: Dave from Turkey (TACO director) leading the team and herding kids at shows, Chris (American from Istanbul TACO team) running sound and singing, the Aussie band Sam (keys and vocals), Paul (guitar and vocals), Jarred (guitar and vocals), Lauren (drums and vocals) and Nevel (guitar, vocals, harmonica); Dustin (unicycling) and Katie (dancing) from America; and Sabre (Albanian pastor/church planter) our local organizer.

It was not the best welcome to arrive and learn that our amp that we've stored here has gone missing and all Dustin's wooden structures that he uses for the obstacle course part of his show were left out in the rain and rotted.

Wednesday, March 29 was a rehearsal day and yesterday, Thursday was our first show in a poor neighborhood in Tirane. This area has a new, small church plant with about 30 people led by a Roma couple. The show was a good dress rehearsal as we put all the elements together. We performed in a smooth surface, fenced-in basketball court in the center of an apartment block. The majority of our audience (which gathered the minute we unloaded and started setting up) was very rambunctious kids. Dave's kid corralling skills came in very handy, as the kids were everywhere and very hard to contain. We tried to keep them behind a rope to create a "stage" area but they kept come through holes in the fence elsewhere. Basketballs flew into the band a few times as they were performing, one even hitting Nevel and knocking his guitar pick out of his hand.

But, despite the chaos, more than 20 people of all ages visually responded to the Gospel message and invitation to follow Jesus! Lots of Bibles and other material were handed out to the eager crowd. Sabre was very happy with the results and said our efforts were not in vain. He said he's heard many reports of kids leading their parents to Christ. The kids take the Bibles and literature home, ask their parents to read it to them, the parents end up hearing the truth and turning to Jesus. A couple men connected with Sabre after the show and are planning on attending the church.


Unfortunately, since the show last night, 3 of our mics have gone missing. It was super crazy packing up after the show so we're not sure what happened to them. You could pray that they are found! Also pray for the seeds planted last night and for the upcoming 11 days of outreach we have ahead of us! Thanks!

Me Shprese (With Hope),

TACO Albania team

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