AN ENERGETIC DAD from Worthing has found a passion for Albania and is raising funds for a church in an impoverished community there.

Tom Heaton, aged 41, an upholsterer by trade, has visited the country four times in the past three years with fellow mission partners from Worthing’s Jubilee Community Church, as well as his own family. He has spent time praying and encouraging members of the Living Water Church in Korce, a city of 80,000 people in the south-east of the country.

Tom said: “I just the love the people out there and the people in the church particularly – they are very welcoming and friendly.”

Albania is the poorest country in Europe, according to Tom. Many live in half-finished houses with no funds to put on windows or doors. Tom’s practical skills have come in handy, though, and he installed a shatter-proof plastic window for a struggling mum during his last visit before Christmas.

“There are always people going from bin to bin,” said Tom. “Not a lot of stuff gets taken away for waste because people take things from the bins. I even saw a beggar with no hands. But the people are lovely. I remember reading Brother Andrew saying that the people out there are friendly, and it is true.”

Prices in local supermarkets are similar to Sussex, according to Tom. Yet the Albanians do not have the money to buy goods. They use whatever space they can to grow home grown crops instead such as apples, pears, tomatoes and onions. Local transport is cart and ‘skinny horses’, said Tom, although the horses seemed game enough.

Living Water Church has around 120 adults and many more children. Factory workers have to work Sundays so there is a celebration for youngsters in the morning and an adult service in the evening.

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