25 YEARS OF GROWING TOGETHER
IN FAITH, LOVE AND HOPE
About the first 25 years of the Lutheran Moravian Church of Albania.
Written by Dena Fortuzi. Leader and member of the Board
25 years ago three women were called to start a Bible group, what soon became the Lutheran and Moravian Church in Albania. If you ask them today, all agree with the fact that in some wonderful way, probably unexplainable, they received the call to enter God’s mission in this world.
Denmark was the first country which set the road for us to step in this journey. Afterward, together with our sisters and brothers in the whole world we have witnessed how God has been working through us in this country.
Denmark has supported from the beginning
BDM has been our main supporting agency during all these years, the first to support us in this wonderful and difficult mission. We have found additional support internationally, both on a spiritual level as well as on a financial one. However, we still see BDM as our closest partner.
We have to admit that during 25 years we have been challenged, but by God’s grace we have crossed mountains, we have reopened doors, we have been called differently, we have succeeded in keeping alive God’s word through our commitment in this country.
While for many years our strategy has been reinforcing and strengthening the quality of work where we already have groups, in Tirana, Bathore, Elbasan, Pogradec and Burrel, in 2017 God called us to consider opening new groups. We just started a group in Lezhe, Northern Albania and another one which is in a rural village near Burrel, group belonging to the congregation in Burrel.
We believe that God has used our challenges to make our work grow and from being in the midst of difficulty, He, by His grace has shown us love and mercy.
Today we have about 320 members, 14 leaders and several potential leaders who are being trained regularly to lead groups in the long run. We are 12 members in the church board, lead by its head, Vjollca Mazi and our pastor Jørgen Bøytler, who comes in Albania 3-4 times a year. Tirana remains the central group, which also coordinates the work of other groups, maintaining a close relation to all leaders through the head office.
All the groups have different activities, mainly work with children, youth and women. We have kindergartens in Bathore, Burrel and Pogradec. Recently a new project has started in Elbasan, focusing in children with autism.
Conferences for leaders
In 2013 we started leadership seminars with leaders and potential leaders, led by our pastor Jørgen Bøytler and two pastors from Sweden, Klas Lindberg and Hakan Sunnlinden. One positive outcome of this spiritual growth is the increased number of baptisms; around 50 since the second part of 2013.
With Mike Boije being the coordinator and a leader, the Moravian Church in Gothenburg, Sweden is supporting a chain of youth seminars since 2016. We can see and feel how vital these seminars are proving to be, as we engage youth in several Bible groups and activities 2-3 times a year.
Project in Bathore
We have an ongoing project in Bathore, supported by sisters and brothers at Home Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. This project is divided into three main parts: Monthly economic support (mainly food), emancipation (trying to integrate women in the urban society through courses of learning skills, personal care and cooking) and evangelization (increase and strengthen the church in Bathore).
Becoming a pastor
Since 2016 I, Dena Fortuzi, is studying to become a minister of the Lutheran and Moravian Church in Albania, supported by American sisters and brothers who are devoted to help her and our church in the future. Dena is studying at the Moravian Theological Seminary in Bethlehem PA and she is very happy to having started this journey. Our hope is that she will be ordained and serve as a role model to other young people in the future.
We want to serve
We are inspired to serve and to do God’s work. Seems like God is calling us more and more, in a country where it is still difficult to work towards evangelization. Though, we have never given up; we have always tried to seek God’s wisdom in pursuing what He has called us to do.
Through 25 years we have learned what it means growing together in faith, love and hope. With our motto in the center of our hearts, we will keep following our Lamb who has conquered and answer daily to God’s calling.