Where doors are shut, whether foreseeably or abruptly, unrealized plans and disappointment often result. However, sometimes it may be just those closed doors that widen horizons and turn out to be a blessing in a very special way.
The Church of the Nazarene, an independent evangelical church coming from the Methodist tradition, had set up an international bible school in 1965 in the German exclave of Büsingen on the Rhine (near to Schaffhausen, Switzerland). The intention was that men and women should be prepared there for ordination and service in the kingdom of God. The school started a process as far back as the early 1990s which involved the creation of local study centers in European countries, as well as continuing the campus in Büsingen. The local study centers were intended to make it possible for men and women to have a theological education even if they were not able to study in Büsingen – for instance, because they did not speak English fluently. The bible school was later confronted with unforeseeable developments which in the end led to the decision to close down the campus program in the summer of 2011.
In spite of this, the theological training continued and still continues – locally, in (as of today) 15 regional study centers. And when the United Methodist Church (UMC) in Albania looked at the question of where it could send its future pastors to complete a theological training in the Albanian language, the regional study center for Albania and Kosovo provided a promising answer.
Mustafa Isufi, the thoughtful and humane leader of the UMC church in Pogradec and a member of the UMC leadership team in Albania, has completed the whole study program over the last few years, and he received the relevant diploma in November 2018. The training, which corresponds with a bachelor degree course, was challenging for him, particularly as he had to do it in his spare time. All the more reason then for joy and gratitude at the successful conclusion of the course – and an incentive for the two other Methodist students from Albania, Florian Çela and Gjergj Lushka.
«As the pastor I am expected to play the role of coordinator in church life, in supporting projects and in relations with persons in need. Sometimes, through our faith and active charity, we succeed in passing on to others a small light of hope, encouragement and love. Sometimes, we do not succeed in this. Irrespective of this, it remains my job to accompany people on their journey of faith and through life». Mustafa Isufi takes this conviction with him as he continues with his valuable services in the growing UMC in Albania. The fact that he leaves blessings behind him on his path is also in some way connected with the fact that a door was closed, years ago, in a small village on the Rhine.
Source: Office of Bishop Patrick Streiff, Zurich/Switzerland