ALBANIA, Tirana: On November 22, 2010, the Albanian Minister of Culture signed an agreement with the Albanian Evangelical Alliance (AEA), granting legal status to over 135 evangelical churches in Albania, currently represented by the alliance.
“This is great news for Albania, and a truly unique and historic moment!” reports Rev. Klajd Vampa, Door of Hope International’s (DOHI) co-worker in Albania.
Rev. Vampa is a committee member of the AEA, which has worked hard to negotiate the agreement with the Religious Affairs Department in Albania for the past five years. The AEA is now the fifth religious group in Albania to receive official recognition and protection under the laws of Albania.
“Please continue praying for Albania and the ratification of this historic agreement between the AEA and the government of Albania that will take place in parliament next month. We thank each of you for the prayers and support you have given throughout this process,” says Rev. Vampa.
After the Second World War, Albania experienced one of the most brutal communist dictatorships in history under Enver Hoxha, who sought to eradicate Christianity from Albania. Churches were closed and believers were persecuted, arrested and killed for their faith. The Evangelical movement went “underground” to survive this brutal onslaught. A period of severe social unrest, anarchy and economic collapse that followed Hoxha’s death in 1985 caused many to question communism and seek God.
In 1991 Albania finally opened its borders to the rest of the world allowing Christianity to flood the country and bring hope to the destitute. The Albanian Encouragement Project (AEP) was set up to strengthen existing churches and bring new converts to Christ. In 1997, there were 600 missionaries working in Albania, planting many new churches in Tirana and throughout the nation, many of which later became members of the AEA.
DOHI missionaries, Dan & Ellen Fitch and their family, have worked actively in Albania since the early 1990’s to spread the Gospel, start new churches, and help children at risk. They also brought desperately needed humanitarian assistance to thousands of refugees that flooded Albania during the Kosovo Crisis in 1999.
Ellen Fitch says, “Please continue to pray for Albania as corruption is still rampant there and Islam is growing as many Islamic nations continue to pour money and resources into Albania. Child trafficking continues. Revenge killings take place in the north. This agreement is truly monumental but Albania still has a long way to go to become a truly democratic nation. Please hold the Albanian Church in your prayers.”