Albania and Kosovo
God’s Word is changing lives in Albania and Kosovo!
Albania and Kosovo differ greatly, despite having people of the same ethnicity living on both sides of the border. In Albania, years of Communism have left their mark, and in Kosovo families still suffer the painful memories of the war a decade and a half ago. Unfortunately, in Kosovo ethnic tensions and division continue to this day, lying just beneath the surface. At the same time, there’s mounting concern over the growth of radical Islam in the region.
Over half of Kosovo’s population is under 25 years of age and Albania is not far behind, so most churches and mission groups prioritize reaching children and youth – the generation that is most receptive. They have not lived through the war nor suffered under Communism, and they are searching for a bright future.
No one really knows the number of believers in Kosovo, as some are secret believers, fearing persecution from their families. However, there are around 900 “visible” believers, many having taken the step during the last 10 years. In Albania, the number of believers is around 10,000 today.
Salvation and healing in a broken world
Yet in the midst of so much pain and uncertainty, the living God is at work! Albanian pastor, Arian, shared how church leaders in his town meet regularly for prayer and to plan how to work better together. “Summer is a peak season for us to connect with people,” he said. “We take the opportunity to be on the streets to share the Gospel through drama, dance, music and personal evangelism. A couple of summers ago, we held a street event attended by more than 2,000 people. Thank you for providing New Testaments and The King. We were so happy to be able to give God’s Word to the people. It’s easier to connect with them this way.” As a result of the summer outreach, the churches in Pastor Arian’s town have tripled in size! Arian shared about the current situation in Albania and said: “Now there is openness for the Gospel in Albania!”
The Lord is at work in the prisons, too! Albania has 22 prisons, and 800 prisoners in 15 of those prisons have received a MediaServe New Testament, and children of prisoners were given a copy of The King. There’s such hunger for God among the prisoners! One prisoner went to the chaplain each week asking for a New Testament. The chaplain asked, “Why do you need another one; we gave you a copy last week, the previous week, and the week before that?” The prisoner replied, “There are eight of us in my cell and everyone wants one!” Seeds of hope are being sown among those who had lost hope!
Radiating the love and presence of Jesus
Genta, an 18-year-old girl who came to faith in the Lord Jesus during an outreach last summer. “After coming home from an event, I felt someone knocking on the door of my heart. I got in touch with one of the believers, and she led me to Christ. I was given a New Testament, which I read every day on the bus as I travel to college! My family is Muslim, and I’m the only believer.” As we drove to Genta’s city, we were told of the spiritual darkness that is prevalent there; there are only ten believers in a city of almost 60,000, Genta being one of them! But despite threats from her family, she stands strong and radiates the love and presence of God.
Another testimony was of a 15-year-old boy, whose brother had come to Christ a year earlier. It was a terrible blow to this 15-year-old boy, and he fought against his brother’s decision for a whole year, trying to win him back to their family religion. But then he himself accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour, and boldly visited two mosques to tell the Imams the Good News about Jesus! Praise the Lord for young evangelists.
In this same city a man received a New Testament and later on bumped into the pastor and said: “Aren’t you the guy giving out New Testaments?” “Yes, I am”, the pastor replied. He then turned to everyone in the bar and shouted: “Hey, get this book. It’s great!”
Students in Tirana, Albania receive the Word!
A pastor in Tirana, capital of Albania, shared how he received permission to go to the University campus in Tirana to speak with students and distribute New Testaments. He gave copies to over 1,000 students and many made commitments to follow Jesus!
The Word of God is seed sown into people’s lives. Take Alban, for example. Alban is a gifted actor from a Muslim family who came to faith in Jesus through reading the Word of God. He shared how he loved reading the Bible whenever he had free time, eventually taking the step to follow Christ. Today, 10 years later, he has a young family of his own and is a witness to God’s love in his community and profession. “My word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)
Time and time again, we are told how hard it is to get New Testaments and evangelistic materials. Christian workers in Albania and Kosovo are ever so grateful for all the help given, especially because many congregations, especially in Kosovo, struggle just to pay the rent. One pastor said: “Receiving the books from you gives us a reason to speak with people; we can’t go empty handed.” Another said, “It’s great that you’ve put The Book of Life (in Albanian language) on the cover and not New Testament. Because of this, people can carry it more freely and read it in public places.”
In Kosovo, ones religion is linked to ethnicity. To be an Albanian in Kosovo is to be Muslim. To be a Serb in Kosovo is to be Orthodox Christian. In their eyes, when an Albanian in Kosovo turns to Christ he or she identifies with those who once killed their people – the Serbs – turning ones back on family and identify. This creates a huge barrier for Albanians in Kosovo to come to Christ, especially among the older people. Pray for forgiveness and reconciliation among these ethnic groups in Kosovo. Pray for real encounters with Jesus that will heal the past, set people free, and bring hope to broken lives! Pray for the believers – that they will grow in maturity. Pray for a big harvest as the Word is sown in people’s lives.