‘The gospel is life, hope and salvation.’
We caught up with Scott Ballantine and Erion Cuni about the ongoing work and use of Christianity Explored in Albania.
‘Lord you’ve got to do this, I can’t do it.’
This is what Scott Ballantine prayed in 2017 when Erion Cuni asked him to raise 25,000 euros to help run Christianity Explored in Albania. The ministry started in prisons, alongside Prison Fellowship International. Scott told us that they wanted "to get [Christianity Explored] out of jail and free it up."
With one of the youngest populations in Europe, the team use Soul, our resource for young adults and are working towards getting CY (Youth) out to churches as well. However, their ministry does not stop with young people. Over the last few years, the team in Albania have been taking Christianity Explored to churches and running courses in places such as Tirana, Elbasan and small towns around these cities.
Scott told us of one particular story that deeply encouraged him during his time away from Albania due to COVID-19. “We had one guy in Elbasan, one of the largest cities located in the centre of Albania called Kristian Kotorri, and Kristian worked with the young people in the villages around Elbasan. [...] He ran six consecutive groups of ten people and at the end of that, I think it was thirty-seven people, who confessed Christ.”
He finished saying, “[Kristian] sent me a photograph and I remember getting it on a Saturday morning and almost crying. I was very emotional about it and it was all those young people on the beach. They were sitting on the sand, but they were positioned in such a way that they were spelling CE.”
Erion Cuni has been “able to train and equip hundreds of leaders and churches all-over Albania.” Although “COVID has decreased the work a lot, especially on the launch and distribution of Soul”, they are thankful to God that in just one month they “have been able to equip fifteen churches and seen more than eight courses started.”
Erion believes that Soul gives a message of hope that is much needed in Mimoza's community. “Her church is located in a small town of over 6000 people where the unemployment rate is at 85%," he explains. ”There is no hope and a lot of desperation. Especially for young people. The gospel is life, hope and salvation. Let’s pray they will understand the gospel and that they may start a new life in Christ.”
In his most recent update, from October, he was encouraged by “the opportunity of promoting and equipping the first churches with Soul for their work with the youth. More than 900 notebooks and sixty leaders guide have been given out, more than half of what we had the opportunity to print out. COVID-19 had decreased the work but finally, we see groups starting again, in just a month we have eight courses ongoing with nearly 120 people attending.
Erion left us with this amazingly encouraging statement: “Christianity Explored has reached the heart of Albania.”