World Challenge’s partners in Albania are demonstrating God’s love to those who are lonely and ill through necessary provisions, prayer and the humble love of simply being present.
Surveys in the United States found that during the COVID-19 outbreaks, one in seven people were unable to get surgery for important health issues, and as many as one in five adults were unable or delayed in getting care for significant medical problems.
That was in the United States, but in other parts of the world, the conditions for those with chronic or acute health problems was much worse. Albania’s healthcare system has historically suffered from inefficiency, and although matters have improved over the last decade, many hospitals still struggle with lack of proper equipment, and around 60 percent of people in the country have no health insurance.
For the elderly, not receiving necessary medical attention or help for chronic illness can be life-threatening. One of World Challenge’s partners in Albania works to help widows get needed medical attention but also to help them if they miss critical doctor appointments and the worst happens.
Hope in the Darkness
Shiqirije has been a widow for over 26 years. She lives in a small, rented home with her four daughters and two nephews. Three of her daughters suffer from schizophrenia, and they never leave the house. Because of the family needs, Shiqirije and her fourth daughter worked to take care of the whole family.
Shiqirije has been a long-time member in our partners’ ministry. She regularly came to meetings and was always overjoyed to spend time together with the other ladies. The emotional support of community was deeply important to her.
At some point, however, she began to feel unwell. COVID-19 was in full swing, and the government severely restricted people’s abilities to leave their homes. Shiqirije did not go to see a doctor until she experienced a full-blown cerebral ischemia. The damage to her brain was fairly severe and left her bed ridden. Caring for the whole family fell on her one healthy daughter, and she was in anguish over the situation.
When our partners found out, they went in person to see Shiqirije and the family. They go now regularly to visit, bring groceries, keep Shiqirije company, help out with family needs around the house and pray with everyone.
“She is very grateful for all the help that we are giving to her and very thankful to be part of the project,” one of our partners wrote. “She has hope in the middle of despair.”
How the Lord Provides
Our partners regularly provide widows in their region with food packages, hygienic products and medicine if needed. They also offer spiritual and emotional care with prayer and counseling, as well as mediating family conflicts and difficult relationships.
The volunteers visit these dear ladies in person whenever they can, providing regular company to many who are often alone and lonely. If they’re not able to go in person, they will call and talk to the widows enrolled in their program over the phone. Whenever possible, they have shared the love of Jesus with those who believe and the gospel with those who do not.
Many of the widows have testified that this labor of love has given them hope in the middle of insecurity, especially during these dark times. Some of the widows have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and other are more open now to hearing about God.
The pandemic has been challenging. It brought fear for the future and an increasing level of poverty for many people. In the middle of all of this, however, our partners have seen God open opportunities to encourage the widows to pray and surrender all their worries and fears to the Lord. They have seen God touch these women’s lives in unique and glorious ways or simply brighten their spirits, thanks to small acts of service. Praise the Lord for his goodness, love and care, providing for the needs of these precious women.