Albania (MNN) — An Albanian radio station created by Words of Hope is now paying it forward by spreading the ministry to Kosovo.
Until fairly recently, Albania was a closed, communist country in which religion was almost completely extinct. "They did succeed in exterminating virtually all religious expression, including that of Christians and Muslims," confirms Lee DeYoung, president of Words of Hope. "So, once the country became open in the 1990's, it seemed apparent that there really was no strong religious vibrancy in the country."
When the ministry first began broadcasting through Radio 7 in the 1980's, listening to the broadcast was forbidden in the Marxist country. Still, Albert Dosti continued to listen and gave his heart to Christ. Dosti is now a pastor and voices Words of Hope's daily Albanian broadcasts. In 2010, thanks in no small part to the help of Radio 7, the church is beginning to grow again.
"On any given Sunday, officials estimate that there are something like 11,000 Christians worshiping in various churches throughout Albania," observes DeYoung. "11,000 is far less than one percent of the total population, but still it represents huge growth from the virtually nonexistent Christian worship during the days of communism, and the numbers continue to increase."
Radio 7's ministry is now so vibrant that they recently began broadcasting to neighboring Kosovo as well. The station has received a license to broadcast directly from Kosovo's capital city, Pristina.
"Words of Hope broadcasts in the Albanian language, and we're excited about programs now that are being heard in Kosovo as well as throughout Albania itself," says DeYoung. The new broadcast out of Pristina will contain all of the same elements as Radio 7 in Albania. These include a 15-minute Bible teaching program, a daily devotional, and a topical drama for each day.
Kosovo is not the religious blank slate that Albania was when Words of Hope came in, though. The country is filled with committed Muslims. Radio 7, however, is confident that the new station will be listened to regardless.
"Even though it is much more staunchly Islamic in Kosovo, nevertheless there is a great respect for the Albanian culture and the Albanian language as it is spoken inside of Albania proper," explains DeYoung. "So these broadcasts generally will be, we believe, met with a great deal of favorable outlook inside of Kosovo."
Radio 7 has been a rich and fruitful ministry throughout Kosovo. One man who became a follower of Christ by listening to the station had never met another Christian, and yet when he came to visit the station, he expressed remarkable commitment to Christ and a mature grasp of Christian principles. Clearly the Lord is using this ministry and may do so in Kosovo, as well. Pray that God would be preparing the hearts of many in Kosovo to hear the Gospel and respond to it.