Ministering to Albanian Immigrants
October 22, 2008
Second year, M.Div. student, Jason Stryd, has been involved in a ministry to the Albanian people in Northeast Philadelphia since he moved to the Philadelphia area.
Jason's story starts in Kosovo (pronounced kuh-sō-va) where he had been doing missions work among the Albanian community.
When he moved to the Philadelphia area, he met Martin Katro (Cert., WTS, 1996) at New Life Presbyterian Church in Glenside. Martin and Jason started talking about the work Martin and New Life Northeast was doing with the Albanian immigrants in the North East Philadelphia area.
Soon Jason was also involved. "It's almost like I went there [Kosovo] to be prepared for this. The need for it [ministry] is so much greater here because the people are so much more needy."
Jason and his wife Kristine, now teach ESL classes on a weekly basis, help with translation, help people to get welfare and help with whatever basic needs one of their Albanian friends might have. There are about 50 students taking the ESL classes and they range anywhere in age from 30 to 60. Through the ESL classes Jason and Kristine have been able to start building relationships with the Albanian immigrants and, with Martin, have started a Friday night Bible study where they play ping-pong or chess and share scripture.
Jason's goal is to build relationships and open doors to share how the gospel intersects with the Albanian peoples' everyday lives. Looking towards the future, he prays that God will continue to work in the hearts and lives of these people and bring them to salvation. Some fruits of these prayers are already being seen but most do not know anything about God and are just beginning to learn about Him. Plans are coming together for a church plant for these people (and other immigrants) that would be multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and provide children and youth ministries for the families.
For Jason and Kristine it's been an interesting journey of having people in their homes and learning another culture that they are not as familiar with. "We are walking in faith to see what God's going to do. We're wondering what God's church will look like among them [the Albanian immigrants]."