By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
TIRANA, ALBANIA (BosNewsLife)– Preparations were underway Saturday, September 22, for American preacher Luis Palau’s first evangelism festival in Albania, one of the world’s least evangelized nations.
“Since 1985, I have loved Albania, I have read about Albania, and I always dreamed that someone would invite me,” Palau told reporters ahead of the two-day event in the capital Tirana.
In separate remarks, the evangelist said he had urged prayers that “many many hundreds, perhaps thousands will be converted” during his September 22-23 ‘TiranaFest’ at the capital’s Mother Teresa Square.
Palau proudly announced that already 62 of some 100 professional women, including executives, made a “public commitment to Jesus Christ” during a luncheon he hosted this week.
“Twenty-seven want to be called for talking,” the Argentina-born preacher added, speaking in his trade-mark rhythm English.
The Oregon-based Luis Palau Association said the festival, organized with local denominations, was the “first unified effort of churches in four decades” to spread “the Good News” of Jesus Christ in Albania.
(Watch Luis Palau talking about his evangelism campaign. Story continues after this).
“There were only five believers twenty years ago,” when Communism collapsed, he stressed. “Now there are several thousand, maybe maximum 10,000 to 12,000 [believers] in the country.” However other church observers, including advocacy groups, say there was already an underground church of devoted believers active even under Communism, despite persecution.
In a statement to BosNewsLife, the Luis Palau Association said Albania’s “small but passionate community of believers is hungry for God to move.”
It noted that, “Nearly every evangelical church in Albania has been working to make TiranaFest with Luis Palau a reality.”
Organizers said the festival also received “full cooperation from the prime minister, president and Tirana’s civic leaders,” while Albania’s main networks were advertising the event on television.
The visit to Albania, a still impoverished nation seeking membership of the European Union, marks another milestone for Luis Palau who last year became the first American preacher to publicly visit Vietnam since the Vietnam War.
His organization claims Palau has so far preached “faith in Jesus Christ” to over 1 billion people through radio, television, the Internet, books and articles, including 28 million people face-to-face in 72 nations.
There are several misleading facts in this article. There were far more Christian left alive in 1990 when communism collapse. There were many thousands of Orthodox and Catholic secret Christians who continued to believe, pray and worship on penalty of death during the time of persecution. The Orthodox Christians constitute 20% (or more) of 3.5 million people and Catholics 10%. Since 1992 the Orthodox Church in Albania has been rebuilding the communities and evangelizing and catechizing the remenant of faithful Christians. The Church continues to grow. The Catholics have experienced similar growth. We have peaceful co-existence among religions here in Albania because we respect one another. We hope that now that the Protestant faith is a recognized religion in Albania you will also continue to sow the seeds of peace and respect for others in Albania and recognize that there is a first century Church here that has suffered greatly, but is being restored by the Grace of the Holy Spirit. With love and respect for Jesus Christ Our Lord,
Sadly Anastasia we Christians and so called Christians like to put everyone in boxes and if you are not in a certain box you are not a Christian.
and it does such damage to the body of Christ , I am a Monk and the other day I ran into some Christians, they could not believe I was a real Christian as I was a monk, I was deeply hurt.
There was a time I sat down with an Orthodox Bishop to talk and he told me right away he could not call me Revd or Fr Richard as he did not reconize me as one.
Thankfuly I was gracious to both ,but it has caused such alot of pain in my life over the years. Only God can see the heart , only God knows if we are serious about Him or just playing games.
No man or woman no matter who they are has the right to judge, while in Vietnam I was told not to wear my Clergy Collar as people would think I was a Roman Cathol Priest, goodness Christians of all stripes have suffered there ,it is tragic and one day The Lord Jesus is going to give us a good earful for taking his place as judge.
Lets encourage one another to Godlyness as the Apostle paul says.
Dear Rev Richard and Anastasia,
Indeed there were underground Christians under Communism in Albania. We have added the sentence ‘However other church observers, including advocacy groups, say there was already an underground church of devoted believers active even under Communism, despite persecution.’
I think the point Palau wants to make is people who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, not just because their parents or grandparents belonged to a certain church. Yet even in that case, we must assume that the figure was higher than 5, though still relative small.
Stefan J. Bos, BosNewsLife.
The Albanian Orthodox Church in Albania and the Roman Catholic Birch in Kosovo are growing in numbers and influence daily. Western evangelists really aren’t necessary o spread the word of god to some of the oldest Christians in the world.