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

Albania Firsthand

An interview with Barth Companjen of Ancient World Outreach by Report associate editor William S. Covington, Jr.

How long have you been going to Albania?

On a regular basis, as a tourist, since 1982.

When was Ancient World Outreach founded?

In 1984, while I was still working as a research manager for Open Doors.

Can you elaborate on the spiritual situation in Albania?

Presently, there is a hunger for all that was previously forbidden.  But, at the same time, there are competing interests at work inside the country.  For instance, the Bahais claim to have 4000 adherents in the country.  One also sees other influences, such as New Age and Jehovah's Witnesses.  Therefore, we Christians are only one stall in the market selling our product.

What is the current status of Christian fellowships in the country?

In the past 18 months, 39 Christian fellowships have been established all over the country.  These fellowships are associated with the Evangelical Brotherhood [a loose association of Evangelical Christian house and church fellowships].

What is the goal of Ancient World Outreach?

To establish an evangelical witness in each province of the country.  So far, we have been 90 percent successful, but the government continues to divide provinces for administrative purposes, which creates more work for us.

What are some of the difficulties a mission organization faces in Albania?

There are two difficulties faced by any mission group that seeks to work in Albania.  First, most groups that come to this country have no understanding of the culture of the people.  Second, too many short-term and not enough long-term missionaries come to Albania.

Have you experienced any hostility from the government or from the people?

We have not had any problems with the government at all.  We experienced no personal hostilities until competing groups, in particular Muslims and other Christian organizations, began to work in the country.

Does there appear to be a greater openness to the gospel in any certain region of the country?

There does appear to be a greater receptivity in the south as opposed to the north.

Do you have any suggestions for prospective missionaries to Albania?

Please come and see the country and the people before making a decision to focus on Albania.  Also, study the history and culture before coming to the country.  My publication, Albanian Insights, is an attempt to educate others on Albania.  The publication is supported by donations alone, but is sent free to missionaries in Albania. 

Companjen, Barth, "Albania First Hand," East-West Church & Ministry Report, 1 (Spring 1993), 6.

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

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