One of the reasons for coming out to Albania was to be at the Balkans Conference in Elbasan. This was a gathering of church leaders from the Balkans region. Leaders came from Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Greece, Bulgaria, Bosnia Herzegovina and Albania with other guys like ourselves from the UK and Switzerland. Here is a photo of some of us.
Below is a picture of Shaban, right, who leads a church in Tirana, Albania with Halil and his wife Vali. It looks a s though they have just eaten their lunch, which because of the warm weather we have outside. Ann just said to me, Just because they have jackets on doesn't mean it is cold! It is only just warming up here 24C, so not time yet to take your jacket off.
Here are Rudina, on the left, the wife of the leader of the Elbasan church, with Blerina another leader in the church.
And Mondi, a guy who 2 years ago came to a concert we held in the Skampa Theatre here in Elbasan, liked it, came to the Youth Camp where he came even closer to God and then became a Christian on the Alpha course. Now he is involved in gathering the young people here in Elbasan. Our young people at Life recently took up an offering for him that helps pay some of his out of costs, mobile phone bill etc.
This photo is of Andy in the centre, the guy who first invited me to Albania, his wife Esme on his left and Rustem and Maria and their daughter Lili who lead the church in Burrel.
I think we were all moved to hear the story of this couple, below, Bernard and Nada, who lead a church in Bosnia. The country is still very divided, Orthodox against Muslim, and people against people with the bitterness and hurts of the nation very near the surface. Nothing they said had really been resolved and only the peace of God in peoples hearts can really change the situation. They personally and their children receive physical and emotional abuse.
Below, by the pillar is Scott from Reading Family Church with Zdenko on his right from Varazdin, Croatia.
And Geroge from Bulgaria in full flow!
Here are two guys Lee Laytton Matthews and I got to know from our time in Nis, Serbia, Misha and Marion.
And finally two more, Sasha, who came to our church for the Willow DVD conference last October, from Skopje, Macedonia, and on the right another Geoge from Lovech, Bulgaria.
Now a spot of lunch and then Ann and I are off to Librazhd to meet the young people there who will be coming to the Youth Camp in July, and to end the day, a meal in a Greek restaurant to say "thank you" to all the people in the Elbasan church who hosted the Balkans Conference.