Transforming Children’s Lives

Rachel Chimits

Our partners in Albania are working with the children of Europe’s most persecuted ethnic group to introduce them to Jesus and help them through school.

Growing up is hard, especially the transition from child into adult. Nothing complicates an already tricky phase of life like instability at home, trouble at school and illness.

One of World Challenges’ partners in Albania is the Butterfly Project, and they work with Roma children and their families. A lot of their programs focus on giving children a dependable routine, school help, medical attention if needed and the gospel. Most of these kids and young teens are already dealing with enormous difficulties in their private lives, in addition to the ordinary challenges of maturing.

Add to these difficulties the wider issue that these children face gross discrimination for their ethnicity on a weekly or even daily basis. Many are discouraged from going to school at all or not allowed to socialize with children who aren’t also Roma.

The Butterfly Project team emphasizes to their young charges that they are made in God’s image like all humans, and that the Lord lovingly created them with talents and unique personalities that can contribute to the church and their world.

One Young Man in Christ

Rodrigo grew up in an extremely impoverished Roma community that lines a river in Albanian’s capital. He joined the Butterfly Project when he was a little boy, but he often got into fights with other children and argued with volunteers. He broke the rules and seemed to chafe against even the most loving restraint. His frequent illnesses did nothing to improve the unhappy little boy’s mood.

In the beginning, Rodrigo’s attendance was spotty at best, and he didn’t seem to want to be there even when he was present. As the team shared the gospel story and God’s love with him, however, his attitude began to change.

Rodrigo accepted Christ into his heart, and his mentality toward life and other people transformed. He loves Jesus deeply and is eager to learn more about the Word of God. He shares with his friends and family about Jesus.

Now Rodrigo is 13 years old, and unlike many pre-teens, his mood is far from glum or rebellious. He’s in seventh grade and is a diligent student. He shows up to the meetings routinely and helps the teachers with their lessons for the younger children. He also helps care for the littler ones and has even started learning how to play guitar so he can help lead the children’s worship service.

We praise the Lord for the transformation in Rodrigo’s life!

Worthy Work Throughout the Year

In the summer, the Butterfly Project organizes a camp for kids to learn Bible stories, sing songs to the Lord and have fun activities and games. The children spent time sharing about their lives and praying together.

The team also helps Roma families with the procedures to register their children in school. At the beginning of the school year, they also give the children school bags, notebooks and pens along with other materials they’ll need. Throughout the academic year, they help with homework and offer supplementary math courses.

The workers told us, “These times have been hard and dark because of the fear, anxiety and insecurity that COVID-19 brought. We have been helping and praying a lot for the children and their families and have encouraged them to pray and surrender all their fears to the Lord in prayer.”

Join us in praying for this ministry in Albania, for the teenagers like Rodrigo who are continuing to grow in Christ and for the many other children whose lives are being illuminated by the gospel.