Albania enjoys freedom and the Gospel is advancing even though this country had been once declared an atheist state. The spiritual opening of the country is a result of the persevering prayers and steadfast spirit of God’s people.
Christianity in Albania
Christianity in Albania claims apostolic foundations, and this statement is based on Albania’s geographical location. The ancient tradition holds that Ap. Paul and Titus introduced Christianity into Albania. The Bible mentions a visit of Titus to Dalmatia, the province stretching as far as the territory of today’s Albania (2Tim 4,10).
From the 15th century to the 19th century, under the rule of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, Christianity was replaced by Islam and no trace of the Reformation influence can be found. The breakthrough came in 1817 when the British and Foreign Bible Society made efforts towards ”the furnishing of the Albanians with a New Testament in their own language”. Since 1830 the New Testament, in paralleled columns of Greek and Albanian, was being distributed. These foreign efforts led to establishment of the Albanian Evangelistic Brotherhood in 1892 which had three goals: to preach the Word, to publish it, and to open schools in Albanian Language. The Evangelical movement in Albania advanced until 1936 and it is often called the “Korca Awakening”.
In1944 Albania became a Communist state under the leadership of Enver Hoxha who had ruled the country till his death in 1985. The Communist regime introduced harsh restrictions on both Christians and Moslems. The ruthless persecution against Christians rolled over the nation and large number of religious leaders were imprisoned or executed. In 1967 all remaining 2000 religious buildings were closed and Albania declared itself an atheist state. This was the darkest period in the nation’s whole history.
In 1991 Albania opened its doors and many missionaries from different missions came in. Currently there are about 160 evangelical churches in the country. The Albanian Evangelistic Brotherhood was reestablished in 1992. The spiritual opening of Albania is a result of the persevering prayers and steadfast spirit of God’s people, either in or out of Albania.
The CIA World Fact Book gives an estimate that there are approximately 70% Muslims, 20% Eastern Orthodox, 10% Roman Catholics and the number of Protestants is about 8,000 in Albania. The whole population counts about 3 million.
Baptists in Albania
The history of the Baptist work in Albania has its roots since 1932, a time when Edwin and Dorothy Jacques, Baptists from the USA, joined the Kennedy’s, another couple from the States serving in Albania in the city of Korce (southeast of Albania). During these years God blessed greatly their ministry and the Gospel influenced a lot of people. At that time there were about 100 Evangelical believers in Albania.
After the dark period of communism God opened the doors for His Gospel in Albania and many missionaries, including the Baptists, started writing a new spiritual chapter in the nation’s history. These missionaries together with indigenous leaders started the Baptist Union of Albania in 2003.
For the moment there are seven Baptist congregations in the union: six of them are led by the Albanian pastors and one by a foreign missionary. Four churches are directly involved in church planting.
Church Planting in Albania
The indigenous church planter Genis leads a church planting team in Unaze e Re, a large habitation place in Tirana where there are many new buildings and lots of new constructions everywhere. Genis tries to make friends with local people and his wife Blerta teaches children a sort of Sunday school which helps in making contacts to their parents. A couple of missionaries Nancy and Gary from Michigan, USA are helping by teaching English.
Tony, another indigenous church planter works in a different part of the city which is called Kombinat. This ministry was started in 2009 and the group regularly meets in a rented hall. The team of 7 including also the couple of American missionaries organize meetings for young people, sport activities, camps during summer, study the Bible during the week, show films etc. There are several teenagers who participate regularly and the group occasionally grows when there are special activities. Tony also teaches how to play a guitar. He is particularly gifted to minister to teenagers.
The church plants cooperate closely with the mother church which is the Way of Hope, the oldest and largest Baptist congregation in Tirana even though it was planted only 20 years ago. The mother church provides various support starting from prayer, sending mission teams and financial support to church planters, payments for the rent of halls, etc. The Way of Hope has also sent a family of its former pastor Kristo Pango to New Jersey in the USA to serve as church planter among the Albanian emigrants there.
1. Pray for the Baptist churches in Albania that they can grow in the knowledge of God and fulfill the Great Commission to reach the new generation of Albanians.
2. Pray for the New Jersey, Kombinat and Unaze e Re church plants that they can implement effective strategies in order to begin a Christian movement in these areas.
3. Pray for the Albanian nation that God will send the spirit of repentance and the nation may experience a spiritual revival.
EBF Mission Coordinator
To help planting reproducing churches!
To help growing healthy churches!
For the glory of God!
Daniel Trusiewicz, 16 May 2012