Albania (LPA/MNN) — In 1990, student demonstrations began in Albania, which eventually led to the fall of Communism.
Along with the fall of Communism came the fall of state-imposed atheism, although that left generations who had never been introduced to the Good News of Jesus Christ. Last week, local churches and evangelist Luis Palau changed all that. Together, they collaborated to proclaim the Gospel through an event called TiranaFest to more than 20,000 people at Tirana's Mother Teresa Square.
From September 22-23, the square was packed with 3,500 festival participants enjoying live music; an extraordinary stunt show by skate, BMX, and motocross athletes; a program just for kids; and clear presentations of the Good News by Luis Palau and partner evangelists.
The excitement generated its own publicity. Interest swept throughout the cit,y and the nation's top three TV networks carried the story for several days. "This was totally different…something that has never happened in Tirana," Pastor Paulin Vilajeti of Albania Christian Center said. "Because people were attracted by different events, I believe and I hope that God touched different generation–from children to the older people."
Christian speaker and BMX pro Vic Murphy also shared the Gospel at each stunt show and Reverend James T. Meeks leading the Salem Baptist Choir in astounding praise music.
Local church leaders acknowledged the campaign as one of the largest faith gatherings – and the largest movement of churches – Albania has ever seen. TiranaFest offered them a unique opportunity to spread the message of Jesus across the public sphere, timed to coincide with the nation's 100-year anniversary of independence.
At the end, 2,300 people made decisions for Christ, and will be mentored in their new faith by the local church and believers. "I think it's historic," Toni Gogu, an attorney and chair of TiranaFest's organizing committee, said. "For the first time, we have had the elites of Albanian society – the business community, the political community – being addressed in such a genuine way with the Good News of salvation."
Days before the festival, Luis met and prayed with government and faith leaders, including the
archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church and Tirana's mayor, Lulzim Basha. The latter attended the
festival Saturday and offered his welcome and support for TiranaFest from the main stage.
Pray that the new believers would get grounded in their faith. Pray that those who did not make a decision during TiranaFest would continue to think about what they've heard. Ask God for more Gospel opportunities.