I have just returned from a ministry trip to Albania. We were there to help run a week-long foundational course for life and mission – many of you will have heard of and seen me write about Foundations before. The Albanian courses are phenomenon in themselves. Speak to many outside Albania, who have done a Foundations course and they will tell you how equally great and grueling the week is. If they are looking for influence, they will then proceed to share how the content really should be cut down and the schedule spaced out, how unreasonable it is to expect people cope with the pace. Then come and ask any of young person connected with the Fusion team in Albania and you hear a very different story.
Foundations in Albania is a highlight in the year! It’s about vibrant, electric times of worship. It’s about discovering the God of the bible alive and in their midst. It’s about complete surrender at the cross. It’s about preparing to change the world together. It’s a time of refreshing, fun, volleyball and dancing past midnight. The chance to go is coveted by the teenagers – spaces are now limited to those who have never done it before as the campsite can only take 80 people!
In Australia we do what we call ‘Youth Foundations’ where the sessions are presented in a very youth friendly way with work books and craft activities to keep the young people’s focus during the sessions. Every minute of the day is structured with team activities so young people are on the go, learning, creating, the whole time. Not so in Albania, its straight, no frills, ‘adult’ foundations! Last week of the 60 Albanians doing the course the vast majority were in their teens and early twenties. So how does this work?
As I hung out with the team and the participants I think I might have stumbled on the key. The leaders have a passionate commitment to God and seeing their generation experience his love and life. For each of them Foundations has been a profound journey that equipped them to fulfill this passion and to know God more. Their passion is contagious and the young people they work with are direct beneficiaries. Together through the year they experience God’s life and love amongst them and overflowing. Foundations then becomes a gathering of celebration and empowering together to change the world. The intensity and the schedule are irrelevant as they discover God and his purpose for their lives.
The team in Albania are reaching a whole generation and Foundations is a key part of their strategy. No frills, it works. You were to ask them they’d say – don’t touch it! (apart from the movie ‘Cromwell’ that is!).