Although Albania remains one of the poorest nations in Europe, the country threw off the shackles of communism in 1990 to embrace democracy, joined NATO in 2009 and is now a candidate for membership in the European Union, according to Christian Today. The Tide® has been producing and airing Christian programming in the Albanian language for several years, and has witnessed firsthand the change taking shape among Albania’s growing body of believers.
Despite progress, Albania’s economy has remained stagnant in some areas, Christian Today further reported. Donkeys and carts are still common sights in rural areas, and 40 percent of Albania’s 3 million inhabitants are still employed in agriculture. Many people, especially the young, are choosing to start over in locations like Italy and Greece.
“Albania seems to be on the cusp of great change, and many feel the time for evangelism is ripe and a significant window is now open to share the Gospel,” said The Tide Director Don Shenk. “But as interest in Christianity grows, so does the possibility that more will try to limit it. We hear reports that pastors are sometimes fearful and hesitant to carry their Bibles in public. We pray for all the new and potential believers there, as God reveals Himself during this important time in Albania.”
Christian Today also provided history to Albania’s religious freedom. In 1967, under Communist dictator Enver Hoxha, Albania announced itself as the world’s first atheist state. Christianity and all other religions were banned, although many secret believers remained. After 1990, however, Albanians were free to worship again and Christian literature flooded the country. There are now three translations of the Bible available and Christian radio stations broadcast regularly. Today, about 62 percent of the population claim to be Muslim and 32 percent are Christian, although just a tiny minority are evangelicals.
In 2015, The Tide ministry began partnering with Radio 7 to broadcast a program called “Sipas Fjales” or “According to the Word.” Listeners regularly report to The Tide ministry about their changed hearts.
Wrote Anisa from the capital city of Tirana, “I’m a young working mother and recently have had a hard time balancing my family duties and my work responsibility. I reached a point when I had no desire and no strength to continue. Then I heard a really powerful message about joy on the radio. That message truly changed me. It made me see clearly and find joy on the little things of my life.”