The Republic of Albania
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The small southern European country of Albania borders on the Adriatic Sea and shares a southern border with Greece. For the five hundred years prior to gaining independence in 1912 Albania was part of the Ottoman Empire. Invaded by Italy at the beginning of the Second World War, Albania came under Soviet influence at the close of the war and remained a part of the Soviet bloc until 1992. Today Albania is governed by a single legislative body known as the National Assembly. Largely hilly and mountainous, with a narrow strip of marshy plains due to the Drin and Vijose Rivers, access to Albania has been somewhat limited making modernization difficult. The religious population is dominated by people of the Muslim faith, claiming 70% of the population. The Albanian Orthodox Church claims 20% of the religious population with the remaining ten percent being largely Roman Catholic. Albania was the home country of Mother Theresa. In 1967 all mosques and churches were closed but private religious practice was again allowed in 1990.
With the fall of the communist regime the door to outside aid and mission activity was opened. Representatives of the American a cappella Churches of Christ responded with offers of food, medical services and supplies. Bible correspondence courses and Bible-based English language classes (World English Institute) were initiated in 1992. A congregation was established in Tirana, the capital city. English classes remain and important contact point between missionaries and Albanians. Long-term missionaries, such as Dick Ady, have contributed to the success of opening the field of Albania. Perhaps as many as twenty missionary families have served and are currently in this field. There are active congregations in Tirana, Reps, and Elbasan. Opportunities exist to minister in and to the Muslim community.
In the city of Duress Dr. Spiro Doraci, a medical doctor, operates a clinic with the support of FAME (the Fellowship of Associates of Medical Evangelism) of the American Christian Churches and Churches of Christ. The clinic sees over 250 patients per month and also serves as the site for church services with more than fifty in regular attendance. Classes for grade school children, teens and adults are offered each week with both Muslims and Christians participating. Dr. Doraci also preaches for the congregation. One avenue of outreach to the community is a weekly sixty minute radio program. In 1999 Wye Huxford was sent by the Seminary of the Nations to teach basic theology in Albania. Denver Sizemore’s book Thirteen Lessons in Christian Doctrine has been translated into Albanian for use in the church. Through the Kosovo refugees in Albania FAME has been able to open another clinic in Prizren, Kosovo. Don and Linda Tingle of Muslim Hope oversee both FAME projects.
Clinton J. Holloway
National Profiles Editor
FAME Clinic in Duress
Fellowship of Associates of Medical Evangelism
P.O. Box 34800
Indianapolis, IN 46234
Telephone: (317) 272-5937
Fax: (317) 272-5940
Web site: http://www.FAMEworld.org