Biblical education in the world’s first atheist country.
After the Second World War, Albania was in ruins. It was Enver Hoxa who, as a political leader, helped the country out of the doldrums. He ensured rapid reconstruction and brought about unprecedented economic growth. Education and health care also flourished under his government. Illiteracy was greatly reduced.
However, Hoxa ruled with a heavy hand. Political opponents were isolated or eliminated. The arm of the secret police extended throughout Albania. Enver Hoxa maintained close ties with Joseph Stalin. After his death, Albania increasingly found itself alone. In the 1960s, Hoxa forged friendships with the Chinese leader Mao. Albania became the first Maoist country in Europe. Hoxa took a hard line on communism. All churches and mosques were demolished and in 1967 Albania was declared the first atheist state in the world. (Source: Wikipedia)
When driving through this beautiful country on the Adriatic Sea, you cannot miss the many bunkers that the country is rich in. Hoxa had 173,000 bunkers built to secure the independence of his country.
Hoxa may have proclaimed Albania the first atheist state in the world, but God will not let Himself be banished. In the land where Paul, as an apostle, laid a foundation for the Gospel, then called Illyricum, a Roman province, there are still people left who have not bowed their knees to Baal. At present, there are several Protestant-evangelical churches in Albania. In the whole of Albania and Kosovo together there are about 20.000 Christians.
On behalf of the GZB Aad van der Maas is working in the capital Tirana as a tour guide for church leaders and church members. Equipping and encouraging these young churches is of vital importance. At the Bible school in Tirana where Aad teaches, a programme has been developed for the churches to give church members and church leaders a firmer basis in their faith. Youth work and diaconate also receive attention. (Source: GZB) In equipping church leaders, use is also made of NET Foundation’s materials, including ‘God’s call to Ministry’.
At the end of November a training conference was organised in the port city of Dürres. Apollo Makara contributed on behalf of NET. He held a lecture on delegating responsibilities within the church. This resulted in an interesting discussion. Apart from the pastors of the young Protestant-evangelical churches, a number of Christian organisations working in Albania were also represented.