Sunday, August 28, 2011

Country Profile: Albania

I'll be showcasing different country-profiles and unreached people groups on this blog, so I figured I would start with Albania because I have a friend who is trying to do some fundraising so he will be able to start a life of full-time ministry and his first trip will be to Tirana, the capital of Albania. He is hoping to stay there long enough to make an impact and form relationships with the locals. On his website he says that the goal of visiting Albania is to build up the small, local church (about 50 members!) and to serve the local community.

Visit his Facebook Page, Therefore Go Ministries, to learn more!

Religion and Church-Planting Progress Scale

While Albania is not really considered an "unreached" area (15.4% unreached), it is largely Muslim and non-religious and the Joshua Project website describes it as mainly having a  "formative/nominal church" among many of its people groups.

Of the 13 people groups in Albania, two are "unreached" (Han Chinese and Israeli Jew), and ten groups have greater than 5% "Professing Christians" and less than 2% Evangelical Christians. Only one people group (Romani/Vlax) has a "significant/established church" with greater than 2% Evangelical Christians.

from Joshua Project "Albania People Groups"

Brief Overview

"This pint-sized, sunny slice of Adriatic coast was ground down for years by poverty and blood vendetta, but Albania now manages to pack a wild punch of traditional Mediterranean charm and Soviet-style inefficiency. It's a giddy blend of religions, styles, cultures and landscapes, from Sunni Muslim to Albanian Orthodox, and from idyllic beach or rocky mountain to cultivated field. Relics from one of the longest dictatorships in Eastern Europe rub shoulders with citrus orchards, olive groves and vineyards." (Lonely Planet's The Travel Book: A Journey Through Every Country in the World, 2008, page 11 "Alabania")
From WWII until 1992, Albania was a Communist/Stalinist state. In the 90s, many Albanians left the country in search of work (as much as 20% of the labor force). During the NATO bombings of Yugoslavia in 1999, about half a million ethnic Albanian refugees fled from Kosovo into Albania, burdening the country's already weak economy. Outside of the former Soviet Union states, Albania remains one of Europe's poorest countries, with high unemployment rates and corruption that really deters foreign investment. Freedom of the press is a constitutional right, however there is are powerful political, business and media agendas that often inhibit this freedom. After the communist regime, illegal and unregulated buildings sprouted up all over the place in large cities, proving to be a disaster for Albania's urban development. (Source: BBC News Country Profile) Rural women who have moved to the urban centers are one of the most poverty-stricken and abused groups in Albania.

See Women News Network for full article on the poverty level among women in Albania
Note: The Kosovo/NATO war is a very complex one including charges of genocide and ethnic cleansing. Wounds are still sore and I can't begin to go into all the details and history of the war here. I have not researched it previously, but I am finding that it is too much to get into at this time.

Quick Facts
provided by Lonely Planet's The Travel Book
  • Albanians shake their heads to say "yes" and typically nod their heads to say "no"

  • Known for shish-kebabs, baggy pants, and colorful scarves

  • Birthplace of Mother Theresa

  • Watch Lamerica for a stark look at post-communist culture

  • Tungjatjeta means "hello"

  • Listen to some polyphony for some traditional Albania music

  • Read Broken April by Ismail Kadare (Albania's best-known modern writer) and learn more about the blood-vendettas on the northern highlands before the 1939 Italian invasion


Lonely Planet


World of Railways

BBC News

Blue Planet Green Living


The following poem was written by a Kosovar Albanian, regarding the Kosovo war:

Until when, O God?

Why do You let me suffer?
Why do You let me weep?
Why do You not heal my pain?
Until when, O God?
Why must I live alone?
Why must I live a wasted life?
Why don't the flowers bloom?
Until when, O God?
Why does the springtime sun not shine?
Why is the darkness not removed?
Why do You not permit the light?
Until when, O God?
Why have You taken hope from my life?
Why has yesterday become my today?
Why does the rain never cease to fall?
Until when, O God?

- Ismet Lajqi

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Don't forget to check out Therefore Go Ministries to learn more about my friend's trip and his fundraising needs. He has a special fundraising opportunity with Mark Kay, where until October 1st 100% of the profits coming into this particular Mary Kay site will go to Ben's fundraising efforts. Click here for more info about the Mary Kay fundraiser.

Thanks for reading! Please share or leave your thoughts in the comments!
God Bless You in the Name of Jesus †

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Jenn for writing this article. I appreciate that you searched about my country and also linked it with Ben's visit and others from there to encourage the church here. :)