Fishing. It's an image that I have often reflected on these last few months. Not because I have done much of it in my life, but because what I am doing now feels so much like it. It is what Jesus called his disciples to and how he described their mission. “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19).
I am fiishing for Albanians who are spiritually interested, hungry and thirsty for something they don’t have yet. I am casting into this great ocean of people looking for those who are questioning life and searching for God.
It was the image on my mind last week as I walked into an Albanian coffee shop in a Boston neighborhood called West Roxbury. As usual, all heads turned to look at me, noticeably out of place. Almost all went on with their conversations and card games, uninterested in me or what I am about. But like usual someone wanted to talk, intrigued by why I speak Albanian. This week it was a young man named Erdi and we had a good conversation and connection.
Fishing is the image on my mind as I invite the men whom I have met at restaurants or workplaces for coffee, a chance to get to know them more and share more about faith and Christ. Sometimes they don’t “bite”, they are too busy, and don’t have time or interest in getting together. But other times they jump at it, and we spend time over coffee and talking. Even as I read Scripture to them each time, I wonder how will they respond. Alexsander is one of these men, always eager to meet and ready for me to read Scripture to him.
Fishing is the image on my mind as I invite Albanians to our outreach events like this Saturday. Some of them I have built relationships with, others I have met randomly at the grocery store or a restaurant. I dangle before them an opportunity to hear more about Jesus and to know other Albanians. I always wonder who will respond. Some aren’t interested, but others keep coming.
It is the image that even fits how I use Facebook. Creating a Facebook page, posting Scripture and events and casting that hook out into the great cyberspace.
The great part is that I truly do have something incredible to offer them. The wonderful news of our Savior Jesus Christ who gave himself to give us true joy and relationship. It is good news for them as they wear themselves out in search of that elusive American dream.
Fishing is on my mind also because this image fits me. It fits my personality. I am not a salesman who can convince with eloquence and force of argument. I am not great at turning conversations naturally to Jesus. But even if it is awkward, I can set before them Jesus and opportunities to get to know Him and hope that they “bite” at the chance.
Fishing also fits my theology. I believe that salvation is of the Lord, from start to finish. By his Spirit he calls and awakens faith in people. I have no power but am only an ambasador of the king. Casting my hook and net and waiting on the Lord with expectation because He is already at work.
So these months have been interesting. I have been meeting Albanians wherever I can find them. Engaging them and inviting them. I have also been encouraging local churches and believers to join me in this, trying to open their eyes to the Albanians already in their lives and praying for open doors for relationship and their own fishing.
Would you pray for our fishing?! That God would lead us to those Albanians who are searching, longing for more. Those who, whether they know it or not, are looking for the grace of God in Jesus. Pray that I am bold and courageous, embracing the awkwardness and the process. Pray also for more Albanian and other local believers to join us in fishing.
Rev. Jason Stryd spent several years as a missionary in Kosovo before helping establish an outreach among Albanian immigrants in Philadelphia, where he served for over ten years. Jason, his wife Kristine and their two children are now part of Christ the King, reaching out to the 50,000 Albanians that are part of the Albanian diaspora around Boston. For more information, visit https://www.ctkboston.org/projects/albanian-mission