Albania (MNN) — On its 50th anniversary, the European Union is keeping mum on further expansion plans.
Pressed for a way out of deadlock over the bloc's stalled constitution, it's hoped that within two years the 27 EU governments could overcome their deep differences over the EU's future. At that time, some European leaders are hoping a revised EU treaty would be ratified by all member nations.
In the meantime, the clamor of those trying to enter the EU is growing louder. Much of former Yugoslavia, including Albania, is in the very early stages of joining, even as the process becomes extremely selective.
With the membership of ten former Communist nations over the last three years, many current members in the West see the newcomers as a threat to wages and welfare systems.
But it's not all bad news. Words of Hope's Lee DeYoung says this process is helping Albania learn what it is to live under democracy. That has also created a unique opportunity for Christian radio. "It is the only nominally Islamic country in Europe. Mosques are springing up, but so are congregations being planted and radio broadcasts over local stations are free to be heard, and they are reaping a harvest."
Words of Hope's Romani programs have been airing from Trans World Radio's transmitter in Albania for nearly a decade. Researchers estimate the worldwide Romani population at 44 million. Many of them are nomadic, and they are viewed as outcasts in many societies.
To have a ministry geared for them is as significant as it is to finish a new Scripture translation to an unreached people group. "The majority population often doesn't view them very favorably", says DeYoung, adding that doors open when "…they hear that God really loves them, and Jesus Christ died for them; it comes as shocking good news. There's been encouraging response to that, and we believe that with the expansion of the broadcast plan, that it'll help even more."
DeYoung says the response was so positive, they've added another radio station and more programming. "We're grateful for the opportunity to broadcast inside the country from stations there and to fully establish all operations for production and follow-up inside that formerly closed country."