Prison chaplains in Albania are seeing lives change as they share translated copies of the Words of Hope daily devotional.
Daily Devotions Near + Far
Words of Hope is well known in North America for the production of small, pocket-sized daily devotional booklets. These resources contain Scripture, a meditation, and a prayer prompt for every day of the year.
Thousands of individuals, churches, and businesses subscribe to this daily devotional. Families read it together around the table after dinner. Nursing home residents read it aloud to their friends. Coaches even study it with their sports teams.
We know that the spiritual practice of setting aside daily time to read God’s Word and pray changes lives, and the daily devotional helps people stay on track with that goal.
It’s not only people in North America who are joining together to read these devotions every day. In the country of Albania, Words of Hope daily devotions are being translated and printed up a second time for distribution among Albanian speakers.
While visiting Albania, Words of Hope president Jon Opgenorth had a chance to speak with the devotional translator as well as meet with a prison chaplain who is utilizing the booklets.
Fabian translates the content. “The devotionals are a blessing to me,” Fabian says, “because they connect me to the Word of God. The devotional also helps the local church here.”
A Glimpse Inside
Together, Fabian and president Jon went to visit a prison chaplain named Yule who has been giving away the devotional booklets.
Yule explains that in Albania, the country does not provide chaplains as a state service. Instead, various religious groups send in their own workers to do ministry within the prison walls. Yule leads a group called Prison Fellowship whose mission is to preach the gospel to all people in Albanian prisons by securing a chaplain to serve at each prison in the country.
So far about half of the prisons in Albania have their own designated chaplain. These chaplains coordinate church services to be held inside the prisons. They also do discipleship training in small groups or one-on-one.
Yule has also been giving away devotional booklets so the people in prison have something to keep and read through while they wait for their next visit. Yule explains that the booklets he brings are taken by people immediately, and they keep asking for more.
“They find something that speaks to them,” says Yule. “And they are glad when we come because we share it. They actually read it and use it. A lot of materials they get they just leave sitting there. But they read these and come to us with questions, so we know they have really read them.”
When asked if he has stories of individuals in the prison whose lives have been impacted through this ministry, Yule brightens and his words tumble out in quick succession.
He tells of a man that he met before the man’s parole hearing. He shared a Bible verse and a devotional with the man while he talked with him. The man was released on parole soon after, and got involved with a local church. A year later, the man and his wife were both baptized!
Yule says guards at the prison show interest in the gospel message too. He has seen them listening on the sidelines of church services, and then had them come to ask faith questions after the service is done. He has also had guards ask him for devotionals and Bibles, and has even helped one get baptized.
“We have a lot of stories,” Yule goes on. “Sometimes I share the Word of God, and then I leave, and I think no one was touched and no lives were changed. But then I visit someone one-on-one, and they tell me they reflected on the things I said all night. They have gone over and over and over it in their minds.”
Continue the Work
Yule says that he could distribute many more devotionals in the prisons than we currently have the funds to produce.
“I love hearing his vision,” says president Jon. “I love hearing the passion for the gospel. We submit to the Lord and ask the Lord to show us. I want to be a part of where there is vision and good work. Someday there will be fruit!”
Fabian agrees, and hopes that soon we can produce additional devotionals to supply the prison distribution program. “To hear actual stories of lives changed was amazing to me!” he says.
And he has a message for you as well. “I want to say, please continue praying. Hold fast in your prayers. I think God is moving in Albania and is doing a great job. Please keep praying for us!”