For the past four years, the Kombinat Church of the Nazarene has been dreaming of its own community center.
The congregation has been delivering food to up to 100 economically struggling families each month. They began cooking meals in the church kitchen for 45 people for about six months, but the space was too small to serve all those who were in need. So they switched to simply delivering groceries.
“We were making visits to families [who had a] lot of social problems — divorce, gambling — so the church has been helping them economically and socially,” she said.
If the church had a larger space, they could expand their ministry to the poor beyond just meals. They could also launch programs for the elderly, open a reading and teaching room, as well as provide vocational training for unemployed and underemployed men and women, longtime church and board member Eda Xhakollari said.
On May 30, the Kombinat’s mayor invited Xhakollari, lay leader Ergest Biti, several other church members, and missionaries Steve and Rachel Beiler to visit him at the city hall. The city leaders knew there were many families in financial hardship, but the city didn’t have the resources to provide for them. When the mayor learned the Church of the Nazarene was already feeding them and envisioning an expansion in services, he set up the meeting to offer the use of the old city hall.
“He said, if we do this program together, you can use this old office for free,” Biti said.
A follow-up meeting with the mayor to discuss the details is expected to take place this fall, after the Beilers return from their home assignment (speaking tour required of Nazarene missionaries every other year in their home country) in the U.S.
The food program is partially funded by several Nazarene churches in the U.S. The Kombinat Nazarenes also make jewelry to sell, with all the proceeds going into their food program.
As a result of this ministry, a number of new people and families have visited the church, and some have become regular attenders.