The Miracle of the Orthodox Church of Albania
First, let me just say I absolutely love the Hoppe family. They are in my morning prayers for God's blessing every single day.
Five years ago, when I turned 50, I decided to celebrate the for whole year in lots of ways. One of those ways was to fulfill a dream and take a trip to Albania, so I could meet Nathan and Gabriela Hoppe and learn about their missionary work. I had met Nathan at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in the mid 1990s. I was wrapping up my Master of Divinity degree and Nathan had just arrived, if I am remembering correctly. We didn't really have the chance to get to know each other very well, but I have since come to know and admire greatly his work and his family's Orthodox Christian witness in Albania.
For a long time I had been a fan of Archbishop Anastasios Yannoulatos in Albania and his work Facing the World: Orthodox Christian Essays on Global Concerns has been an inspiration.
Albania is a place that has seen great suffering.
The resurrection of the Orthodox Church in Albania is nothing less than miraculous.
So, instead of a vacation, I spent an amazing week in Albania, a place where I had never been. After planning a little bit with Nathan, the idea was that I would get a tour of the archdiocese, meet people, and see their missionary work in action. I would also do a mini-training on using digital media for missionary outreach, especially with college-age students.
From the moment I arrived, I saw that Tirana is a beautiful city. Nathan, Gabriela and their lovely family gave me an amazing welcome and I stayed in their home. I worshiped in the resplendent Resurrection of Christ Cathedral. I learned about the Hoppe's work in the seminary, the youth ministry, campus ministry, and much more. I met so many new friends. The truth is, I received far, far more than I ever gave on this little mission trip.
I was captured by the wonderful light and love shown by the people I met. The greatness of the Christian witness was unmistakable.
What a wonderful time I had and it was the best birthday present I ever gave myself. I have forever been changed by Albania, the Orthodox Church there, and the beautiful Hoppe family.
I have just given a donation to their missionary efforts via the Orthodox Christian Mission Center's website. Won't you consider supporting the crucial missionary work of this amazing family? You can read about their life and work on their OCMC bio page.