Thank God for His work in this land! For a long time it was closed to the gospel, but evangelicals grew from nearly zero to several thousand in just a few years. The Albanian Evangelical Alliance (VUSH) now represents and connects more than 200 congregations and organisations. The Church has indigenous leadership, nationwide networks, a vision for discipleship and evangelism, and it sends out workers to other lands! And all this came about during a politically and economically unstable time. Many believe that years of devoted prayer for Albania opened the way for ministry here.
Albania has a long road ahead to recover completely from the devastation of atheistic Communism. Economically, morally and, in particular, spiritually, there remains much to be done to build a healthy and productive society. The anarchy, chaos and corruption of the 1990s and 2000s are outworkings of the nation's grim past, but there is praiseworthy progress of late. Pray that Albania's government and business cultures might be positively impacted by the influence of believers. Biblical ethics in these contexts can be in short supply.
Evangelicals are in a transition phase. The frenetic activity of the 1990s has been replaced with more strategic ministry and consolidation. There are fewer long-term missionaries now than in the initial rush after the country opened; more committed workers are needed. National leadership is developing and growing, but had to start from a baseline of almost zero. Scattergun evangelism is being replaced by a more focused and strategic approach. More than 160 evangelical congregations are connected and represented by the Albanian Evangelical Alliance (VUSH). Pray for the following ministries:
- Leadership training is the most vital need for prayer due to the Church's rapid growth in the last two decades, to widespread biblical ignorance and to a previous desperate lack of biblical leadership models. At least six groups run training institutes - Albanian Bible Institute, The Centre for Christian Leadership, Evangelical Theological College (AoG), YWAM, Christ for the Nations (Nehemiah) and Southeastern Europe Theological Seminary. There are several other training programmes as well as deliberate mentoring of promising Albanian leaders in less-academic settings. TEE, with BILD International, is also a useful tool due to prevalent poverty and the poor infrastructure.
- Evangelism and church planting. There are still many towns and villages without an evangelical presence, and where there is one, signs of second-generation spiritual lapses are already apparent. Pray for the good news to continue to spread. The Albanian Church Planters Mission was formed to prepare evangelists for this express purpose. Pray also that resulting churches and Christians might reflect the Lord Jesus Christ in an Albanian context.
- Holistic mission is possibly the defining ministry of the young Albanian Church. Almost all mission agencies and national ministries combine practical and much-needed assistance with sharing the gospel. Help ministries abound, designed to assist the poor and suffering and to provide employment opportunities for Christians. Pray for a profound impact from this love in action. Albanian believers are now being equipped to have a holistic gospel impact on their society as well. This will potentially affect fields as diverse as medicine, politics, law, business, parenting, et al. Pray that such efforts might bear fruit that matures and expands the Church and transforms the country.
- Missionaries from Albania. Praise God that Albania's young Church is committed to its part in fulfilling the Great Commission. Numerous churches and organizations are sending Albanian workers to other lands. Albania's historical legacy of Islam and Communism has equipped many Albanians to make excellent missionaries to the unevangelized world. Pray that this movement would grow and that the Albanian Church itself would strive to support their workers in every way.
The Albanian diaspora. Over half of all Albanians live outside Albania. Their spiritual need is now greater than that of Albania itself. Pray for these:
- Kosovar Albanians are 98% Muslim, with about 1,000 evangelicals in 12 congregations in Kosovo. The upheaval involving Serbia and NATO opened doors for evangelism and ministry.
- Albanians living in North Macedonia (450,000) and Montenegro (30,000). Almost all are Muslim, with very little Christian outreach to them.
- Albanians further afield. Indigenous Albanian populations have long been in Italy and Greece, but now their numbers have swelled: Greece (650,000), Italy (800,000) and Germany, as well as Switzerland, Netherlands and the UK, with over 100,000 each. New York City alone may have over 100,000 Albanians, and large populations can be found in Boston and Detroit also.
- Criminal activities seem sadly widespread among some segments of the diaspora. Most heinous of these is illegal trafficking of people, primarily for prostitution, but other trafficking includes that of drugs and arms.
- Scripture translation. There are three complete translations of the Bible in Albanian; one literal, one paraphrased and one Catholic. The NT was recently retranslated into modern Albanian in a collaborative project of Orthodox, Catholics and Protestants; a new OT translation is underway in the same project. Pray for accuracy, timely completion and for widespread use of the Scriptures.
- Christian radio is an area of great growth. TWR, Albanian partners Gospel Waves and Radio 7 produce and broadcast non-stop on shortwave and FM via several transmitters and stations. They are hoping to expand their broadcast reach into Kosovo as well. Words of Hope is also producing and broadcasting radio programmes in Albania. Pray for wider coverage so that people in more isolated areas may also be blessed.
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Content taken or adapted from Operation World, 7th Edition (2010) and Pray for the World (2015). Both books are published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.