Albania & Kosovo
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Called Illyricum in the New Testament (Romans 15:19), Albania’s coastal area, known as Dalmatia (2 Timothy 4:10), is where Paul sent Titus. The light of the Gospel was suppressed by centuries of unbiblical traditions and superstitions. In 1501, Turkish armies of the Ottoman Empire occupied Albania, and for 400 years they ruled with the sword, seeking to convert the country to Islam. Albania became the first Islamic state in Europe.
During the ruthless communist regime from World War II until 1991, all religious activity and materials were banned, and Albania officially became the world’s first atheist state in 1967. Enver Hoxha, the dictator, declared he would do what Stalin and Mao Tse Tung had failed to do: eradicate religion from his nation. To that end, he initiated a great persecution of people of all religious beliefs; to be caught reading the Bible could result in many years of imprisonment or death. Hoxha died in 1985. His successor, Ramiz Alia, and the communist regime were forced out of power via strikes and demonstrations in 1991. Dr. Sali Barisha, a Muslim, was elected President in a free election in March, 1992, and re-elected in 1996 in a very controversial election. The early freedoms have given way to greater socialism and politics remains unstable. The insecurities that came with freedom and democracy have brought about a return to socialist thinking seeking more security and collective solutions to the nation's problems. Under socialism, everyone was employed, even if they did not make much money. Despite its instability, Albania is a part of an even greater problem in the Balkans of extreme ethnic pride - ethnocentricity. The religion of ethnic Albanians is a greater Albania. The thing that makes this whole region a time-bomb is the Albanians' commitment to a greater Albania. Serbians want a greater Serbia. Macedonia and Montenegro each have their own struggles still coming to the fore. And Greece (a traditional ally of Serbia) cannot be forgotten, because they are not happy with either Macedonia or Albania.
To add to this, Kosovo was declared independent from Serbia in 2008, leading to great protests in Serbia and Kosovo (amongst Serbians) and also to great delight among the ethnic Albanians.
The only solution to this whole complex of problems is a true biblical world and life view. Ethnic Albanians (whether in Kosovo or Albania) have a longing for a church that is their own and for this reason, Albania & Kosovo are ripe for Reformation. Reformation is the solution. While Hoxha is dead . . . God lives on! He has brought about a great opportunity for the Albanians to once again hear the Gospel, repent and turn from darkness to the Light. It is urgent that the biblical message be proclaimed in word, deed, and print in Albania and throughout the ethnic Albanians in the region. Pray for this work and give that it might go forward!