It was May 2013. We had been supporting parents of children with Down Syndrome in Tirana with information and training since the end of 2008 and were providing four occupational therapy sessions for free three times a week to their children since the beginning of 2009. We hired a part-time doctor, a part-time psychologist, and an occupational therapist.
We hadn’t paid them for over three months.
We had only 10 dollars in our account. I was ready to quit. I could just focus on my career at the Bank and continue to support our family while my husband was leading our two-year-old church.
I couldn’t sleep.
Praying and pondering, I was spending most of the nights on the couch until that May night when I received a message from this friend who has a son with Down Syndrome. She had heard about us only several months ago. One weekend while visiting her daughter in college, she went with her to her Church and heard the testimony of a young couple that had just gotten back from a mission trip in Albania helping with our ministries, both at church and the Jonathan Center.
As soon as this mom heard about what we were doing, she reached out and we became an instant family from that moment on. She wrote that they were going to help cover any pending unpaid bills and their church was considering supporting us every month.
I remember it like it was yesterday.
I started to praise and then drifted to sleep. When my husband woke up I asked him to read the message out loud together and make sure it was real. If I can be honest, a part of me was almost disappointed that I could not quit. Hearing the mothers’ stories of pain and shame was already a lot to face. Their lack of hope, depth of darkness, and intensity of demands were overwhelming at times.
Adding to it, building a team of professionals that were willing to learn and embrace a new way of working with children with Down Syndrome and the fundraising efforts, closing the Jonathan Center seemed like such a relief.
Have you ever been there?
Then God shows up like He did with my friend and He makes it abundantly clear that He is in it. That other part of you, most of you, that is certain God called you to this ministry is filled with praises and assurance that He who called you will also hold you through it all and will provide all you need to keep going.
Ten years later, we provide free therapy sessions every day from 8 am to 4 pm. This is not limited to occupational therapy, but also physiotherapy, speech therapy, music therapy, life skill courses, employment advocacy, training for parents and professionals, counseling sessions for mothers, organized family camps, and a host for “Night to Shine” in Albania. We provide internship and volunteer opportunities aiming to influence the mindset of the wide community and future protectionists toward individuals with Down Syndrome and various diagnoses. During the pandemic, we provided service providers across the country with a guideline on teletherapy and extended our services to all special needs diagnoses both in person and online.
I think what happened in May of 2013, was an example of a breakthrough we all need when we say yes to God to be on the mission field. Those moments when it becomes too painful to continue and even more painful to stop. He provides what you need to continue and gives room to ponder the option of quitting.
God shows up in the stillness confirming His heart for what he moved you to commit to.
What you are left with is a choice. A choice of faith, but above all a choice of being where God’s heart is and becoming His hands and feet. If you happen to be in that place today, don’t be afraid to say yes to God. What will follow will be a breakthrough like a mustard seed beginning to bloom.