When a 25-year-old Albanian man spotted a Dutch missionary on the streets of Tirana, he tapped him on the shoulder. “Excuse me,” he said, “Could you tell me about God?”
That kind of spiritual curiosity is characteristic of many Albanians, emerging from their nation’s nearly 25 years of official atheism (CT, May 27, 1991, p. 52). The missionary that the young Albanian approached was one of more than 100 missionaries from a dozen evangelical agencies and churches that pooled their resources to hold the first major Albanian evangelistic campaign in at least 50 years.
The Albanian Encouragement Project, as the campaign was called, held nightly meetings, July 1–5, at Tirana’s main soccer stadium. Speakers included Bible-smuggler Brother Andrew.
Missionaries from 17 nations also held informal morning sessions, where seekers huddled around missionaries teaching from John’s gospel. Some 25,000 copies of the Gospel in the Albanian language were distributed throughout the week, along with over 10,000 New Testaments.
In addition, the event was covered by Albanian television and radio and several newspapers, including the former Communist party organ, Zeri i Popullit. The crusade was opened by the minister of culture, and at least five government ministers attended evening meetings.
More than a hundred people indicated decisions for Christ during the campaign; two churches, with a total of 175 people, were founded. The new congregations virtually equal the size of Albania’s evangelical movement when it was last counted in 1940, the same year American missionaries were forced to leave the country.
Missionaries did find a remnant of Albanian believers. One man in his early twenties said he encountered Christianity through the writings of Tolstoy ...1
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