In 2019 we continued with our desire to strongly support our ministry partners in Albania, Hungary, and Poland through evangelism, teaching, and encouragement. To appreciate how we got here, a brief history of our ministry is helpful:
Since 2014, we have sent teams to Albania to participate in Cru’s high school summer camp, in which Cru staff and volunteers engage with young people through evangelism, teaching, games, coffee meetings, and discipleship. Following these camps, the local Cru/church leaders maintain relationships they have built through the summer camps and continue to evangelize non-believers and disciple believers throughout the rest of the year. Additionally, team members can continue to grow these relationships after they return. We've sent a team to Elbasan since 2015, and to the city of Korça since 2017. This summer we are again sending 3 high school-focused teams.
In 2016 we first sent a team to work with Cru Albania’s young professionals ministry, which organizes and executes seminars and events throughout the year aimed at evangelism and discipleship of working professionals. Team members typically have an opportunity to assist with the planning and execution of a business-focused seminar, become friends with and share the Gospel with young professionals (like The Porch crowd), host a weekend retreat, and build relationships with Cru staff.
In 2018 we sent our first teams to Hungary and Poland. That summer we sent a group to Poland to host a retreat focused on teaching Re:generation Recovery, a Biblical-based 12-Step program. The full program launched in October 2018, with team members (also Watermark members) serving as remote step-group leaders. This represented the first ex-US expansion of "Re:gen" and the first time that Watermark allowed for program sponsorship by a non-local-church entity. Currently, there are about 40 people in the Warsaw area working through the steps and/or mentoring participants. The 2019 team will join the participants for commencement and be tasked to (1) continue to train local leaders and (2) work with those leaders to launch the next 12-step groups.
Also In 2018, the Hungary team engaged in city-wide evangelism in Pëcs and hosted an English camp with a Gospel presentation that brought opportunities for local follow-up. In 2019, our team will be inserting in-country following Cru's month-long “Speak Out” project, where the team will strategize on reaching young Hungarians.
Through deep relationships we've developed over the years with many staff members, we have begun challenging more of our Albanian friends to live openly and authentically without fear or shame. We are committed to supporting them in this endeavor, and to that end we are looking into how we can bring some of them to Watermark's Church Leaders Conference 2020. We've also begun talking with some of our partners about the possibility of bringing the Re:Generation curriculum to Albania.
In Poland with the commencement of the Re:Gen groups this year, our direct involvement has been reduced in favor of the Polish staff themselves leading Re:Gen groups. We continue to see strong success from their faithfulness, and news of what God is doing in Poland has reached a wider audience through CRU regional conferences. We are investigating ways to continue to support CRU in this.
In Dallas we are beginning to think about a more year-round model of organizing our ministry, which would allow us to further support our CRU partners at the times of year that they most need it. Next year we are praying that we will be able to take teams not only in the summer but also in the fall, and potentially the spring of 2021.
We are also working on new ways to train and equip our leaders. We are beginning a leadership development class based on materials provided by Watermark. Already several of our leaders have expressed interest and committed to growing in their leadership abilities and their dependence on the Lord.
Finally, one of our members, Marlie Austin, has made the decision to move to Albania and work full-time for the GDQ international school! She has been praying for this opportunity for some time, and God has recently moved some significant mountains to make this possible. We're excited for you Marlie!
Without your continued support both financially and in prayer, none of this would be possible. God has generously blessed us through you.