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Faith That Persists

Dear Friends,

Why did it take seven marches around the walls of Jericho before they fell?

When Juli was just five years old in the country of Albania, he used to stand in line for three hours in the morning, three times a week, for a liter and a half of cooking oil for his family. Living under the most oppressive regime in the world, it was hard for him to imagine that the conditions would ever change. The only way one survived was by dogged perseverance.

Fast forward to today, and Juli is a passionate follower of Jesus, leading our Josiah Venture team in Albania, reaching young people with the gospel in a country marked by freedom. Because summer camps are such an effective tool to evangelize the next generation, God gave him a dream to build a youth camp in the mountains not far from his coastal city of Vlore.

In Text 1

A beautiful piece of land was identified beside a mountain stream, and negotiations were begun with the owners. People began giving toward the vision. But then the doors closed, and the purchase was no longer possible.

Land purchases in Albania are very complicated because of the country's unique history. When communism fell, all property was in the hands of the government. Rather than returning usable land to the original owners, they gave every resident of the country a small piece of property. Many never took official ownership of their small parcel, meaning all their surviving relatives would have an equal claim. Tracking down true ownership and getting every member of simple villager families to agree to sell is a herculean task.

A second possibility also fell through, as did the third and fourth. A fifth property was identified—this time with a slight advantage. Before communism stamped out all religion, Juli’s grandfather was a Muslim Imam—from the very village where this piece of land was located. His father was born in a stone building that is now a ruin on the land.

Nevertheless, the task was still far from easy. To purchase a 24-acre piece of land, we needed the agreement of 8 families and the signatures of 46 different people in those family units. It took over a year of negotiations, many long conversations, and even more than seven “marches around the wall” before those agreements were in place.

In Text 2

Juli and his team persevered in faith, and last week, after over five years of active work, land for a youth camp in Albania was finally purchased. The property is set on a beautiful stream, surrounded by 5000-foot mountains, and located just a 35-minute drive from beautiful coastal beaches. Though isolated and private, it is within a 3-hour drive of 70% of the population of the country.  Now, we are beginning plans to develop this unique location into a summer camp facility for up to 200 young people.

Perhaps when Juli was just a child standing in line, God was beginning to prepare him for preserving faith. I wonder how he is preparing you?

President, Josiah Venture



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