published Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

Pastor’s wife raises $30,000 for Albania

Mande Chapman said even after her pastor husband returned from a 2010 mission trip to Albania, she didn’t know where the country was nor did she care much about it.

With four children under 10 at home, she was just glad for a little more help around the house.

“I just didn’t see ... me there at all,” Chapman, 32, said.

However, when she met two Albanian pastors who came to Chattanooga for a City Church staff retreat last fall, things changed.

“I got to know them, know their ministry, know the [country’s] hardships, know their church and everything that was going on,” Chapman said.

The pastors came to her mind again in January after she suffered a stress fracture of her left foot, couldn’t practice her avocation of running and had to spend six weeks in a medical boot.

“I was frustrated,” Chapman said. “I’ve got four kids, and I was just thinking I don’t need anything else [to happen]. I stay at home, I work at the church two days a week and I home-school. At first, I thought, ‘God, this is just too much.’ I was whining about it.”

Then, she said, God revealed to her how she could combine running and Albania.

“He would join my passion [for] running with his passion for the lost,” Chapman said.

As she heard the next day’s message at City Church on audacious faith, she said, the details came to her.

The plan, now under way, is for people to sponsor her to run 1,000 miles between March 1 and Dec. 31. With pledges of anything from 25 cents to $25 a mile, she hopes to collect as much money as possible to give to pastors Hervin and Sedika Fushekati.

To date, Chapman said, she has 17 sponsors who have pledged $30,000. She’d like to gain a sponsor a day, she said.

“God can do exceedingly more than we ask or imagine,” she said. “I don’t know what God has in store.”

The pastors can use the money in whatever way they see fit, Chapman said, but among their needs are a coffee shop for university students in the capital city of Tirana, a larger church and a Bible seminary. Just one of those dreams probably would require $250,000, she said.

While the country’s older people are fearful, closed off and set in their ways from their years under Communist rule, she said, university students “are wanting to believe” and are open to Christianity.

Chapman, who took up running last year for extra energy to keep up with her children as well as to have a brief break from them, said her goal is to run an average of five miles five days a week. She’s already completed her first 100, she said.

If she completes 1,000 miles and becomes more disciplined in something she loves, though, the world gains nothing, she said.

“What this is about,” Chapman said, “is helping the gospel to advance in Albania.”

Contact Clint Cooper at ccooper@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6497.

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

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