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Each time I visit my home country of Albania I come with a different perspective as I continue to grow. I am proud of my background and of the history of this place, although there is something I noticed during my current visit. There are many confusing contradictions in the daily life in Albania. The majority of people do not wear deodorant. Which is odd because they insist on being dressed up in nice clothes and wearing perfume even if just to go to the store to buy bread and it’s 90 degrees outside. People do not simply wait in line, they try to elbow and push their way to the front at all cost. Which is odd because it’s a culture that teaches respect and care for one another. Males wear purses (you can call it a man bag, that’s still a purse). Which is odd because they pride themselves on being of that gender and have no issues with flaunting it during a discussion or domestic dispute. Everyone will give you unwarranted medical advice should you mention something is wrong. Which is odd because they are not doctors. The nation of Albania was founded and salvaged over and over again by men and women of character. People who stood up for what is right. People who would defend the meek. A country where if a sworn enemy comes to your door at night seeking shelter, you provide them the best hospitality and honor possible, until they leave your door the next day.

I have lived in Albania. I have it running in my blood. I have studied the history and literature, which is why I know these values. However, to a visitor who encounters this country or these people for the first time, those values are not evident. How evident is my faith to those who encounter me for the first time? Does a person need to learn my entire history and background in order to understand my relationship with Jesus? Should our initial interaction not be one that reflects my relationship with the Savior? As Christians, it is our responsibility to manifest Jesus in everything we do. We should love the gay people in our lives, because God teaches us to love all people. We should accept the flaws in our friends’ characters because God has accepted us with all our filth. We should stand against actions or words of hate because we serve a just God of love. Let us be superficial with our faith. Let’s not force someone to have to study our lives in order to know who we belong to. Be forthright. Be courageous. Be superficial. Be the light that tears through the darkness the way John 1:5 says “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it”. There is no need to search for the light in a dark room, it eliminates the darkness. Let us conquer the darkness by carrying the light everywhere we go.

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Ardi Shahini

Ardi is a son of Jesus, husband to Tiffany, and a father to Vincent and Victor. Has been serving as an elder for the past 8 years at Aletheia Norfolk Church in Norfolk, VA. He enjoys Italian soccer, fighting the establishment, and being proven wrong by wiser people.

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