Albania

To see the Albanian church strengthened and self-supporting, with the vision to transform not only their own community for Christ, but also communities beyond their own borders and culture.

Albania is a small and mostly mountainous nation, with a long Adriatic coastline, and land borders with Greece, Macedonia, Kosovo and Montenegro. Until 1991, Albania was subject to one of communism’s harshest and most isolationist regimes, which left it one of Europe’s poorest and least-developed countries. Although much progress has since been made in raising living standards and renewing the infrastructure, Albania is still very poor and EU membership remains far off. Traditionally a rural economy, many people have left the countryside to seek work in the city, or in other countries such as Italy and Greece.

Albanians are a proud and independent people, but as in neighbouring lands, 500 years of Ottoman domination left a strong imprint on their culture. Albania remains a patriarchal society with clearly defined gender roles.

Before the Ottoman Empire came in the 14th century, the lands which are modern Albania were Catholic and Orthodox. Half a millennia of Turkish rule left much of Albania with a Muslim identity but the Catholic and Orthodox faiths survived. The post-WW2 communists ruthlessly suppressed all religious identity and practice, famously declaring in 1967 that Albania was the world’s first atheist state.

After the fall of communism, many people returned to the religious identities which their families had previously held; the early 1990s saw much outreach activity by evangelical believers from abroad. Today the Protestant church numbers about 10,000, in many denominations. Finance and influence from the Islamic world has seen much mosque-building. For many Albanians however, religion is a matter of cultural identity, and practice is heavily tinged with folk-beliefs and superstition.

Ministry opportunities in Albania

OM was one of the first mission agencies to enter Albania after the end of communism, discovering a great spiritual hunger, especially amongst young people. By the mid 90's, OM had planted four churches. The vision of church planting, and church-plant support remains central to all ministries. OM workers help train and mentor local believers, so that churches thrive under Albanian leadership; encourage Albanians into outreach both at home and abroad, and serve holistically among local communities. OM Albania currently has four teams in three cities.

Mission & Evangelism

The Albanian church is growing and there is potential for believers to be involved in world missions. At the same time there are still many people in Albania who have never heard the truth about Jesus and there is a need for evangelism, training, street outreaches, literature distribution and short-term teams.

Mercy Ministry - Special Needs

A number of children in Albania have disabilities, learning difficulties and other special needs that sometimes even their families don't know how to care for. State-run organisations hardly are able to provide the lowest necessary care for these children. OM workers go regularly into these facilities and are also resources to families who care for their children at home.

Mercy Ministry - Roma/Gypsy

There are people in Albania that are marginalised from society. In many cities there is a Roma/Gypsy community who are often not well thought of by Albanians, have very low self-esteem, generally have low education and very few opportunities for work. Emmanuel Centre, based in the town of Lushnje, is sharing God's love with families through kids clubs, youth work, Bible studies, house visits, material help and support of their educational development.

Business as Mission

Christian and non-Christian families alike struggle to support themselves and find employment in a post communist Albania. Business for Mission Albania is working with churches to help existing Christian businesses and creating new businesses, working towards providing ministry sustainability as well as spiritual, economic, social and environmental transformation for Albanians.

Mentoring & Discipleship

The evangelical church in Albania is just 0.5 percent of the population. The majority of church members are teens or in their twenties or thirties. OM Albania’s vision is to train and develop the future workers and leaders of the church in Albania. To provide well-trained and mature people to care for and help grow the Albanian church in the years to come.

Church Planting

There are two parts to the church planting ministry. One is supporting small village church plants around the town of Lushnje. The other is starting a team in the north of Albania where there are very few churches. Early in 2016 the Acuña family moved to the city of Shkoder. They have a long-term vision to plant a church the area of the city where there is no church.

Resourcing

OM Albania's desire is to help plant and mobilise churches in Albania. In order to do this, the Home Office needs to run well and an adequate place for training and hosting short-term teams needs to be available.

How you can get involved:

Pray

- Pray that more churches will be planted through the church planting ministry

- Pray that through the OM ministries God will transform the community of Albania

- Pray that God will send more worker to serve in this country

Give

Give here (http://www.om.org/en/give) to help support the work of OM in Albania.

Go

Come and discover what God is doing in Albania. You can visit as part of a short-term team or come and live in this beautiful country for a few years or longer! See the job opportunities listed at http://www.om.org/en/opportunities. Contact us at: info.al@om.org.

About Albania

Population: 2.8 million

Official Language: Albanian

State of economy: one of the poorest countries in Europe, but has the potential for economic growth.

Religious make-up: Islam (60%), Catholic (10%), Eastern Orthodox (7%), Evangelicals (0.5%)