Mouth to Mouth Evangelism
August 21st, 2010 by Frontline Missions
by David Hosaflook
A mighty river flows through the Albanian Alps, fed by innumerable streams of melted snow. Over time, the streams assert their will upon the mountain, carving gorges into the faces like wrinkles on a patriarch. Trickle by trickle, the river takes form, rising, rumbling, rushing into three dams anchored in the Tropoja range of High Albania.
In these Tropoja mountains—physically harsh and spiritually hard—streams of living water are now flowing from melted hearts made white as snow, exerting their patient force upon this wilderness. Trickle by trickle, a river is rising against the ancient dams of animism, anarchy, and Islam.
I remember Tropoja when the mountains were still dry: no Christians, no churches, no chance for anyone to get a Drink. Then, in 1994, a young, leggy shepherd boy emerged from his village bright enough to attend high school in the big city of Shkodra—where I had been sent. We met, I preached, he objected, the Holy Spirit drew, and young Arben became the first splash upon the drought, the first fruit of a still-unfinished harvest, the first link in a chain of mouth-to-mouth evangelism.
“Come to Tropoja,” he said, “my family must hear the Gospel. Do you like mountains?” I was young and fit (at sea level), but Arben was a Sherpa! Seven hours into the trek, he reached the peak of Betoshë, looked down at me, and shouted, “Take heart! Almost there!” When I finally summited, wheezing like an emphysemic, he pointed out a dot below, allegedly his house. I squinted incredulously, discovering the relativity of the word “almost.” Now rested and dying to arrive home with the Good News, Arben sprang to his hooves and launched our downward zigzag. My quadriceps burned like lava, but every step paid off in the joy of watching Arben preach Christ to his family.
A week later, back in Shkodra, Arben brought his roommate Fredi to Jesus, then to my apartment. Fredi said, “My family must hear the Gospel too. Will you come to my village?” Unwittingly, I rubbed my thighs, asking “And where might your village be?”—another mountain to climb for Jesus. On that one, half the village received Christ (there were only two houses). Over a plate of sheep brains and pickled cabbage, we preached and Fredi’s older brother Astrit became the third link, receiving the Word with a twinkle of joy in his eye which has never gone out.
Like a lonely mountain flower, Astrit sank his roots into the Rock and bloomed color upon the crags. Two or three more joined, and Christ began building His Church. There are now two—one in Fierzë and another in Bajram-Curri, that mountain ‘metropolis’ branded by the US State Department as “exceedingly dangerous.” There new believers (and the Savior within them) are set upon smashing the gates of Hell.
Recently, I watched some of them get baptized in the icy Valbona River. With joy, they gave testimony of who had led them to Christ, and, all in one place, I traced a line of faithful witness, one-on-one, mouth-to-mouth—six spiritual generations including me, Astrit, Spartak, Gëzim, Jetmir, and Sabah. As they multiply, the mountains will become a garden for God instead of a citadel of Satan.
Tropoja has not yet had its Pentecost. Satan’s dams are still holding. But there is a rumble upstream.