Albania is a hilly or mountainous country apart from some plains along the coast. It has cool, cloudy, wet winters and hot, dry summers. Its population estimated to be just under 3,700,000. Barely 10% of the population are over 65 years old (16% for the UK), and almost a quarter are under 14 years old (17% for the UK).
After World War II the country was ruled by Enver Hoxha for forty years. He banned all religious activity and proclaimed Albania the first atheist state. Following his death in 1985 another communist government was formed, but in 1992 the first non-communist government was elected, and provisions for religious freedom were introduced.
Hoxha’s atheistic communist regime achieved the doubtful honour of ensuring Albania became one of the poorest countries in Europe and it is still struggling with that legacy. About half the working population are involved in agriculture, but this represents only around a fifth of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. The farms are largely small family concerns using outdated methods and plagued by uncertainty about property entitlements. Albania has 11 airports, but only three have paved runways.
Albania now has a multi-party democracy with all over the age of 18 entitled to vote. However, each election brings charges of electoral fraud, and corruption is endemic in everyday life. Given its long years as part of the Ottoman Empire it is not surprising that an estimated 70% of the population are Muslims, whilst Albanian Orthodox account for 20% and 10% are Roman Catholic. That leaves very little room for evangelical Christians!
Patos is a small town in Albania with a population of around 32,000 people. It is at the heart of the Albanian oil industry. There are 2,000 oil wells near the town. It gets very little attention from the world. An internet search produces very few pieces of information and even sites that proclaim they hold comprehensive information have just two lines! But God takes notice of Patos and has established a church there which is faithfully serving Him.
Winter 1992 may have been a cold time in Albania, but it saw a heart-warming development in Patos. Some ladies from the town who had making the journey to nearby Fier, asked for a meeting to start in their own locality. These were begun with the help of a British leader and an Albanian brother who acted as bouncer when some rough lads wanted to disrupt the meetings! The work continued and with the support of Will and Doreta Niven the gospel of Jesus Christ is being lived and proclaimed there.
Gillingham Baptist Church has established a link of fellowship and prayer with the Patos church and this page shows you some of the church members in Patos, as well as pictures taken when people from Gillingham visited them in 2007 and 2008.
- Employment – jobs are not easy to find and Christians can encounter greater obstacles than other people
- Integrity – that those who do have jobs may resist pressures to compromise their faith by going along with the corruption that is prevalent
- Unity – that the fellowship may be strengthened and that the love and forbearance of the church may grow
- Family – that Will, Doreta and the children will know God’s blessing, protection and provision