Here in sunny Albania for only 4 days – seems bonkers to come all this way for such a short time (well it’s not that far – just took a while to get here after having to go via Vienna). Been here for 24 hours, staying in a small hotel in the hills on the outskirts of Tirana – the city seems completely surrounded by what are known as the Albanian Alps. The photo collage is the view from my room!
First impressions are that people are incredibly warm and welcoming. Here for a Langham seminar with around 60 pastors and church leaders. Food is nice (strong Italian influences, which is after all only a short distance away across the Adriatic). Scenery stunning, while the country is clearly undergoing major but urgently needed development and investment. A few stats that have got me thinking:
Albania has 3 million citizens of whom 1 million are reckoned to have left the country 70% are Muslims, but the vast majority of them are nominal (then 15% are Orthodox, 10% Catholic) New Protestant/Evangelical churches were non-existent at the fall of Communism – there are now 200 churches around the country. The fascinating thing is that the majority of these are from a Muslim background. They now account for 1% of the population – which is incredible bearing in mind that in 1989 there were more or less 0% (though of course you can’t actually have less than 0%). A number of the key movers and shakers of these churches are here at the conference – including the head of Campus Crusade Albania, the IFES movement in Albania and the head of the Evangelical Alliance.