Albanian man who gave himself up to Greek police for his crime nears his release

by Arjan Larashi, Paul Alkazraj/TN: ASSIST News Service, Aug 18, 2007

(Albania) - It was a memorable day for those present at the Albanian border crossing of Kapshtica in January 2002 when Edward Leka arrived. Many of those hearing him talking to the police that day were astonished; others even said he was crazy. Before the Greek border police, Edward admitted that sometime in 1993, when he had been an emigrant in Greece, he had killed a man. For this reason he was now surrendering himself.

Initially, the police thought he was joking and told him to leave. But when they saw his persistence, they started to take him seriously. They were further assured when he told them that he was now a Christian, and that he was remorseful for what he had done nine years earlier. After calling a lawyer in Athens, they decided to arrest him. Soon, the Greek media were proclaiming the news that "an Albanian, repentant for his crime, had surrendered to the Greek police."

Edward Leka (photo), a boy with a hasty temper from the Albanian town of Librazhd, is now in Koridhalo prison in Athens. There he accepts the penalty given by the Greek court of originally fourteen years. "I have exchanged phone calls with him, and know that he feels happy because he is following the will of the Lord in which he now believes," says Pastor Arjan Larashi.

It was in 1997 when Edward gave his life to Jesus. After feeling the hand of God protecting him from four possibilities of death, he turned and spoke to his Creator. He had questions about whether He existed and if He was truly Jesus, but he got the answer very quickly by a phenomenon that only the Lord could give: lights shining in his room! From that moment, true repentance and faith grew in his heart. Edward saw himself for the man he really was. He was known in the town as someone who wouldn't spare his meal, someone whom you should be afraid of. His pride, though, was broken and he started to tell the Lord everything he had done, from stealing at the train ticket office where his mother worked, up to the murder in Greece.

Years passed by and Edward was strengthened in the faith, serving at the Antiokia Evangelical Church in Librazhd. His heart's desire was to share the Gospel with prisoners. One day, he said to Pastor Arjan: "Listen, if you enter the prisoners' world, you will find that they are the same as other people. What is the difference, before the Lord, between them and others who are immoral, hypocritical or deceptive?"

"These words made me understand that the Lord was preparing him for a special and difficult mission," says Pastor Arjan. "In fact, he had already started this service in Albania, in the prison of Burrel. Prisoners there may remember him talking with much fire about his faith, the faith that had transformed him and made him a new creation."

So what about the murder? As he had fought another man in a room in Athens, they saw a knife. In the struggle for it, it was Edward who had, unintentionally, struck the fatal blow. The years had passed and this worry had weighed on his spirit. The verses in Romans 13:1-3 were gnawing at him daily:

1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.

Even though he had repented, and believed that Jesus had forgiven him, he had an obligation to fulfill: submitting to the law. Some weeks before he surrendered, he said to Pastor Arjan: "In fact, there in prison, not only will I submit to the law, but I will in a way be a missionary. I will have possibilities to share my testimony with the prisoners, and the good thing is that I will not need any support as a missionary because I'll have food and sleep for free! When I go to Burrel, I don't have enough time with the prisoners, because I'm not allowed it. I wish to live with them, to share my life with them, and to know their life. And there, in prison, I believe they will allow me to keep a small Bible. So, I will have everything."

Edward went with his head held high towards the prison, even though he might have faced capital punishment. He put himself in the hands of the law and even more in the hands of Jesus. He is widely respected in prison and beyond, and people have confidence in his good behavior. He has witnessed to many about his Savior. He is allowed to enjoy limited freedom outside the prison to work in a poultry farm, where through this work he can reduce the years of his punishment. Now, he has but a few more months to serve before release. "I don't know how he will feel when leaves Koridhalo prison, but I know one thing: that he is finishing his mission successfully," says Pastor Arjan.

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