VMMissions Celebrates 30 Years of Involvement in Albania

Posted on May 31, 2022 by Jon Trotter

“The miracle of Albania from day one was sixty or seventy agencies working together! It was like revival; so much sharing of resources among us all. The agencies had done so much good that the constitution was rewritten to allow for evangelical presence and religious freedom.”
—Eva Eberly

The Walls Came Tumbling Down: Our Entrance Into Albania

The story of Mennonite mission in Albania begins with Gesina Blaauw, a Dutch Mennonite woman who had moved to Sicily to establish a Christian bookstore with Christian Literature Crusade. She also carried a deep longing to locate her Italian father. She didn’t find her father, but she did connect with the Mennonites in Sicily, where Willard and Eva were serving as missionaries. Gesina shared another deep longing with her newfound church family: the burning passion in her heart for God to move in Albania, a nation locked away in complete isolation under tight communist control.

In order to enable trips to the closed country, Gesina created her own travel agency. During one of her trips to Albania, she was imprisoned for several months for distributing Christian literature. She invited the Italian Mennonites to join her in praying for Albania to open up to the outside world. Finally, in 1991, after seven years of praying, the walls came down and Albania opened. At the same time, the Italian Mennonite Church was beginning church planting work in the city of Bari—directly across the Adriatic Sea from the Albanian coastline. VMMissions workers, Tim and Karen Green (parents of present worker, Shawn) found themselves involved with Albanian refugees coming to Bari. They began taking humanitarian aid into Albania. Meanwhile, the believers in Sicily worked with Albanian refugees arriving on their shores.

Read more about how VMMissions got involved.

The Miracle of Albania

The opening of Albania after the fall of communism enabled faith in Jesus to take root. This is the story of how Mennonites and other groups have responded in faith to share the Good News in that country, how the Albanian church has grown through the miraculous workings of God. (Video from 1993. Produced and directed by Richard C. Hiett.)

Articles About Our Work Albania

Walls Come Down in Lezhë
A Call to Shkodër
Sharing the Best We Have
30 Seconds That Threw Lezhë Into Chaos
VMMissions Raises Funds for Earthquake Relief
Three Baptized in Kemishtaj, Albania
Blood Revenge Claims Life of Albanian Pastor
Local Church, Global Body
A True Presence for the Kingdom of God in Albania
A Trip to Albania: Our Availability as God’s Instruments in Mission
International Team Takes Leadership at Cornerstone Church, Lezhe, Albania
Flowing River Baptisms Provide Firm Foundation for Faith

Lezha Academic Center

Lezha Academic Center is a North American Style Christian School grades 1-12 for nationals located in Lezha, Albania. It was founded in 2011. It is the only school of this kind in Albania and its mission is to reach people through Christian education. In addition to teaching the LAC community is very involved with different projects in the area such as a Literacy Project for the Roma population. LAC is not just an educational institution, it is a mission – a mission that changes and transforms people lives, giving them hope for the future and encouraging them to make the world a better place.

Being a Bridge
Seeds of Transformation
Meaningful Work, God’s provision
First Graduation at Lezha Academic Center, Bible camp and Summer School Follow
Miraculous Turnaround Experienced at Lezha Academic Center
Our Journey of Breaking Through
Lezha Academic Center Opens First School Year
Vision becomes reality for Albanian Christian School

Norma Teles and the Joshua Center ministry

Norma Teles is director of the Joshua Center, a preschool for Roma children in Lezhë, Albania. She serves in partnership with Junta Menonita de Missões Internacionais, Brazil. The Joshua Center developed as a learning center to prepare Roma preschoolers for public school. The Center has gained a positive reputation for providing life skills to ensure success in school and life. Norma currently works with three local Albanian staff workers to care for the 20+ children who attend. Joshua Center also offers an after-school program for Roma children which is in high demand. Though her Joshua Center schedule is demanding and full, Norma has expanded her ministry by engaging the mothers of the preschoolers in bi-monthly meetings to discuss issues that pertain to the family and health, taking the opportunity to read the Bible and teach them songs about Jesus. She is also teaching some of the mothers to read. Her desire is to make Christ known in the Roma community. Norma attends the Mennonite Church, Guri I Themelit, where she has been active for many years.

Called to go: Norma’s story
Mission Encouragements at Joshua Center

VMMissions Timeline in Albania

Timeline in Albania

Open Doors in Albania

  • Long-term workers serving a combined 67 years, often with colleagues from Eastern Mennonite Missions.
  • Eight short-term teams and 20 persons serving for at least one year through tranSend.
  • The emergence of Guri i Themelit church in Lezhë.
  • Norma’s ministry among the Roma through the Joshua Center, 1999-present.
  • Significant involvement with agricultural development and loan projects.
  • Lezha Academic Center, a thriving K-12 English medium school founded by Klementina and Dini Shahini in 2011.
  • Albanian believers engaged in mission, both in Albania and beyond.

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