Whilst sitting on a plane bound for Tirana, the capital of Albania, the realisation of a two year dream (which had been instilled into us by our good friend Yke Visser from the Netherlands) was about to be fulfilled. Little was I to know then, what a huge impact the next eight days would have both in and through us.
Most people’s view of Albania, is that of a little known, small European country governed by a communist dictator, but this is only a brief part of a much longer and richer history. It is a very strong belief among scholars that the apostle Paul in his biblical journeys through Greece, Macedonia and Turkey at one time also visited Illyria, the former name of the region used before the eleventh century. During the 2nd century the Roman Empire occupied the country and subsequently it became part of the Byzantine Empire. After suffering under various other invaders, the Ottoman Turks finally took control in the later part of the1400’s. It was during this time period, that a brilliant chapter was written in the country’s history when an Albanian resistance led by George Scanderberg stood strong against the Ottoman Empire for 25 years from 1443-1468. This valiant stand brought great admiration from the Vatican calling him “the saviour of Christianity” due to the fact that he had held up the powerful Islamic Turks from penetrating deep into Europe. After World War II Albania was governed by a communist regime for 45 years. Due to a number of political and economical reasons the country more or less remained isolated from the outside world.
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