East-West Church & Ministry Report
Vol. 1, No. 2, Spring 1993, Covering the Former Soviet Union and East Central Europe

FORUM:  working together works best
Albanian Encouragement Project

by Art Moore 

As a cooperative mission effort in Europe, the Albanian Encouragement Project (AEP) may be unique.  The 30 evangelical missions in this coalition, while maintaining their autonomy, do work together on common objectives.  AEP's primary aim is to see indigenous churches planted in all of Albania.  As inter-mission relationships develop, information-sharing and cooperative efforts happen more through natural ties than through formal structures.  Missionaries from two different missions, for example, have joined forces to develop a training program for church-planters.

In addition to church-planting, AEP has developed common objectives in theological education, literature work, and relief and development.  AEP intends to gradually turn over the above functions to an indigenous alliance of evangelical churches known as the Evangelical Brotherhood.  The use of that name links the present evangelical movement to one that existed in Albania before World War II.

While serving member missions, AEP desires to provide others ministering, or considering ministry, in Albania with helpful information.  Churches and mission organizations caught up in the excitement of the new openness in Albania must know that the essential need now is for church-planters who are willing to take at least a year or two to learn the language and begin to understand a very complex culture.  Foreigners who come offering a fast fix will be welcomed by Albanians, but will do little of lasting value.

Missionaries who have been in Albania since the country opened two years ago are only now beginning to realize the effect that deep-seated cultural values have on church growth.  The Western concept of leadership selection, for example, conflicts with Albanian culture in which society has been for centuries organized according to clans.

Of major concern now is passage of a new law on religion. Last October, Albanian lawmakers drafted a proposal that threatened to severely limit the freedom of evangelical Christians.  Albanian evangelicals essentially would have become subservient to the leadership of four government-designated "historical" religions:  1)Roman Catholic, 2)Albanian Orthodox, 3)Sunni Muslim, and 4)Bektashi Order of Dervishes.  With the encouragement of Albanian Christians, missionaries garnered support from foreign governments and lawyers who flooded the President's office with letters and faxes of protest.  A small contingent of Albanians and expatriates went hand in hand to the office of the President to register their concerns.  The combined force of the protest from evangelicals probably had much to do with the law being sent back for major revision.  A new law on religion is still pending.  AEP missionaries urge Christians around the world to pray for a law in Albania that will allow for freedom of conscience. 

Art Moore is a Vienna-based missionary with International Teams and Mission Forum.

Albanian Encouragement Project Contacts
Jack Murray, AEP Chairman 
European Christian Mission 
50 Billing Rd. 
Northampton NN1 5DH, England 
Tel:  (44) 604 250747 
Fax:  (44) 604 20594
Barth Companjen, AEP External Coordinator 
Ancient World Outreach 
Box 10980 
54110 Thessaloniki, Greece 
Fax:  (30) 392 22898
Art Moore, AEP Secretary 
International Teams 
Kerngasse 4 
A-2353 Guntramsdorf, Austria 
Tel: (43) 2236 53 750 
Fax: (43) 2236 52 390 
Compuserve:  100063,175

Editor's note:

A May 1991 meeting of Ancient World Outreach, Scandinavian Pentecostal Missions, Living Bibles, and Slaviska Missionen launched AEP. For a list of participating ministries and commendable guidelines for cooperative outreach, see Albanian Insight, nos. 32/33 (23 October 1992).  This publication, indispensable for coverage of religious life in Albania, is edited by Ancient World Outreach, Box 10980, 54110 Thessaloniki, Greece.  Annual subscriptions are:

German Deutschmarks
Dutch Guilders
U.S. Dollars
in Europe
outside Europe
Make payments to:  Postbank, The Hague, The Netherlands, Account #65646 t.n.v.; Stickting Antieke Wereld Zending te, Ermelo, Netherlands; Designation:  Insight.

Art Moore, "Albanian Encouragement Project," East-West Church & Ministry Report, 1 (Spring 1993), 5.

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1993 East-West Church and Ministry Report
ISSN 1069-5664

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