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TACO Albania Spring - Final prayer update

May 14, 2015

Hello Praying Friends,

Monday morning we left Tirane just before 7am. We drove south along the Albanian Riviera to one of its most important tourist attractions, Saranda. There are two routes to Saranda and we took the scenic, mountainous one along the coast. The view was breathtaking and beautiful! There were red rock formations and canyons, enormous lush mountains, beach-side towns and quaint mountain villages, with the turquoise waters of the Adriatic and Ionian Seas always in view.

It was quite the ride however, and our driver was driving like he stole it, whipping us along the hair pin curves and narrow mountain roads. A few of our team nearly lost their breakfasts. Only once did our brakes overheat and smell like death on a steep decent.

Saranda is a cute little city on the Sea. A local pastor rented a street for our show. It was supposed to be closed off and eventually was on one side, but cars, motorcycles and bikes still shared our stage throughout the show. Our preshow audience was old men and mocking teenagers. We had a pretty fluid show crowd and though we had a few enthusiastic responders, the majority felt cold. A local TV camera crew showed up and videoed the first part of our performance. The Gospel was presented, people responded, literature was distributed and we helped promote the local church.

There was a tourist from Australia who connected with our Aussies. She stayed for most of the show and heard the Gospel. Pray she surrenders to Jesus. Katie talked to a guy named Adi after the show who has left the church, having been disillusioned by prosperity preaching and not seeing God as a reality in His life. Please pray Adi will realize his need for a Savior and see God at work in this messsed-up world.

Our second show in Saranda for Tuesday was cancelled. After applicable team devos on the parable of the sower and seed, we hit the road back to Tirana. This time we drove the inland route with only a few adventurous mountain passes to enjoy.

This wraps up our Albania tour. We all fly to Istanbul Wednesday morning. The Aussies will continue doing outreaches in Turkey and the rest of our team will do the same in Kyrgyzstan. Thanks for journeying with us around Albania through your prayers! God has heard and answered. Please continue to pray for the pastors as they follow up on new believers and contacts, and start and grow churches. Also pray for all the seeds sown to take root in good soil and then multiply!

Me Shprese (With Hope),
TACO Albania team

TACO Albania Spring - Prayer update #6

May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day Mothers! (They celebrate it here in Albania, too.)

Our Plan B on Saturday was God's Plan A. It was our biggest crowd yet, pushing 500 including those watching from nearby apartments, cafes and milling the park. The Airfield Park is a great venue with lots of people hanging out and we had a nice wooden stage to perform on. Dark clouds were looming in the distance from several directions and we even saw lightning coming our way. On the drive to the show, Sabri said "There are rain clouds but God will give us a rainbow." And, He did! As we were setting up, a rainbow appeared among the clouds in the distance! The dark clouds dispersed by the time they reached us and we didn't have a drop of rain!

The audience was so enthusiastic and animated throughout the show! We loved watching their reactions. They clapped and cheered, sometimes at random times. When Dustin led them in a prayer of commitment to Jesus, some girls in the front row closed their eyes, held out their hands and repeated the prayer intently. Very precious!

Sunday morning we joined Sabri's church which meets at the Christian Center where we've been staying while in Tirane. Paul and Neville played with the church worship team, then the whole Aussie band performed 2 songs. Dustin performed some of his uni's then shared his story and a challenge to the church to not just be church goers but live a life completely surrendered to God, using what they have to make a difference across the street and around the world.

When TACO visited this church last fall, about 50 people attended. Today there are over 300 people that come regularly! The church leaders have started a government approved program where they provide food, spiritual and financial counselling in exchange for church attendance. Sabri told us people might initially be coming for food and other things but soon they are touched by the love of God and then come to worship Him.

Monday we leave Tirana bright and early for a 5 hour drive south to Saranda for our last shows in Albania before we fly to Turkey on Wednesday morning. Thanks for praying with us for our final outreaches to have maximum impact.

Me Shprese (With Hope),

TACO Albania team

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:

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 #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

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