Rabije was born and raised in a traditional Muslim family in southeastern Albania. Since early childhood, she has heard about Jesus from her church friends in her village. “I never really understood what the Bible was or who really Jesus was,” she confesses.
“We followed our religion, and my parents taught me the traditions of our faith. But we never went to the mosque,” she adds.
As a little girl, Rabije would join the church groups and holiday camps. Her parents did not object to her doing that until she was in high school. They told her she wasn’t a small kid anymore and were already thinking of marrying her off, as was customary in her family.
Rabije wanted to leave the village and live an independent life. “Some of my friends were getting engaged, and I saw how their fiancés didn’t allow them to do anything or go anywhere. They didn’t even let them talk to their friends they already had their whole life! That was when I prayed for the first time in my life. ‘Jesus, I don’t want this kind of life,’ I cried.”
After finishing high school, she went on to pursue her Master’s degree in Social Politics. One of her friends encouraged her to join a Christian youth organization. “I started to attend their weekly meetings. My friend also belonged to a local church. Soon, I joined her there every Sunday. My life was happy and peaceful; I had good friends, and my studies went very well. I realized that my life was different because of God. In the first year of university, I accepted Christ and started to help in the church. I was involved in leading small Bible study groups with teenagers.”
Rabije felt God leading her to go back to her village and help other girls to get to know Jesus. Her fear was that once she returned home, her parents would make haste to find a husband for her.
“In our church, there was a young man who came to study like me. He was already a believer and became very active in the church. He was all the time with the pastor, doing a lot for the ministry. Youth and children had a special place in his heart. One day, in our small group, he shared his dream of working among the children. I shared with him what I had on my heart, and we understood God had brought us together and prepared us for something big.”
God was at work behind the scenes in her life. She got married and went back to her village. “One day, one of the people from the children’s ministry called us and said there was a pastor who wanted to speak to us. The leadership of the children’s ministry had changed, and the new people in charge wanted to start churches and expand the children’s ministry. They invited us to be part of Bible League’s Church Planter Training program. We began to reach out to our people during the one-year training and initiated small Bible study groups. Today, we have a small church of 50 people and a ministry of over 200 children and youth,” she says.
Rabije and her husband face many struggles daily as the village is predominantly Muslim. They are passionate about sharing their testimony among the villagers. She is grateful to God for who she is today. “The Word of God is more effective than any other thing,” she beams.