• Pre-Entry
  • Pre-Evangelism
  • Evangelism
  • Discipleship
  • Phase-Out
  • Completed

About the People

Ethnic Albanians, or Shqiptaret, are believed to be descendants of the Illyrians, who were the original inhabitants of the western Balkan Peninsula. In the sixth century, migrating Slavs began to settle on Illyrian territory and pushed the Illyrians into present-day Albania.

Prior to the changes introduced by the Communist regime in the 1940s, Albanians were a tribal people who lived in extended family units called fis. The fis had many old traditions, such as the vendettas, or “blood feuds,” which often lasted for several generations. For protection during these feuds, families lived in fortified stone buildings called kulas. The ground floor of the kula was built with small slits rather than windows, while the upper floor had windows that could be closed.

Albania is a country with many isolated areas. Over the centuries, this produced a wide variety of regional lifestyles and settlement patterns. However, when the Communist regime began in 1944, the traditional lifestyles began to change drastically. Communist political authorities believed that the way to achieve national unity was to abolish differences of tribe, religion, and even dress. Huge community farms were established, and education became mandatory. Large apartment complexes were built, and today, more than a third of Albania’s population live in cities. Women make up almost half of the workforce. Albanian products include textiles and clothing, food products, petroleum, metals, lumber, and chemicals.

The collapse of the Communist regime in 1990 brought on numerous traumatic and rapid changes in Albania, leaving the people with an identity crisis. The people were shocked to discover that they had been reduced to poverty. Hurt, angry and confused, they are now struggling to find their identity in a country that is considered to be Europe’s poorest and least developed.

The Apostle Andrew obeyed Jesus’ command in Matthew 28:19 by going to Illyricum (ancient Albania.) A small remnant of Christians remains. But, centuries ago, many Albanians were converted to Islam by the Ottoman Turks. They practiced a type of folk Islam, which embraced occult and superstitious practices such as praying to the dead, seeking cures for sickness, and praying for protection from spirits and curses.

In 1967, communist Albania declared itself as “the world’s first atheistic state,” closing its borders to any influence from the outside world.

About the Project

Since 1990, the crime rate in Albania has soared. Albania’s economy is very unstable. Strikes, especially in the mines, are frequent. The Albanian currency is worthless, and the rate of unemployment is extremely high. Albania is considered one of the poorest countries in all of Europe.

Muslims from the Middle East are now attempting to re-evangelize Albania by sending missionaries. Today, the Muslims, along with the Catholics of northern Albania and the Orthodox of southern Albania, are pressing for restrictive legislation to keep out other religions that are considered non-Albanian.

Recently, more than a million Qurans have been distributed. Within three years’ time, 900 mosques were built or reopened. Muslim countries donated thousands of dollars to encourage young men to study Islam in other countries.

The Albanian Shqiptaret need to know that hope and security can only be found in the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.


Joshua Project

People-Group Facts

  • Population: 2.8 million
  • Language: Albanian
  • Religion: 82% Islam, 16% Christian

Frontier Stories

Furnishing Hope

“This is wonderful!” she exclaimed. “It gives me so much hope. I want to know when this will begin. I want to be a part of this!”

By: Sean & Brenda Mays
August 01 2021, 8:29 am | Comments 0

The Healer

We invite you to join us in prayer for our friends, Gjergji’s family, and their journey of healing and faith.

By: Brenda Mays
May 01 2021, 3:28 pm | Comments 0

The Attraction of Service

Though Alban and Dani have very little, they agreed that serving those in need brings more joy than riches for oneself.

By: Sean Mays
March 01 2021, 9:22 am | Comments 0


In these uncertain times, those who know God’s word must remain flexible and sensitive to His leading.

By: Brenda Mays
December 01 2020, 10:24 am | Comments 0

Challenges and Opportunities

We have also experienced deep gratitude for the way God has opened doors in Albania. It reminds us to place our trust in Him no matter how bad things may look.

By: Sean Mays
November 01 2020, 8:54 am | Comments 0

Love Your Enemies

As soon as we first sensed God’s call, we prayed for the people he was calling us to serve. We prayed for God to prepare and soften their hearts and ours.

By: Brenda Mays
September 01 2020, 10:09 am | Comments 0

Silver Linings

We have been in awe as God has brought victory out of despair before our eyes so many times.

By: Brenda Mays
June 01 2020, 12:03 pm | Comments 0

Fatima’s Final Testimony

She wanted to honor her loving husband’s memory as a religious teacher, but she also wanted to make it clear that she loved and trusted in Jesus.

By: Brenda Mays
February 25 2020, 11:17 am | Comments 0

I Am With You —Part II

From that day onward, Fatima told every visitor about how Jesus had shown Himself to her and spoken to her.

By: Brenda Mays
February 01 2020, 9:53 am | Comments 0

I Am With You

We asked if she wished to accept Jesus as her Lord and her Savior. Fatima replied, “With all of my heart! Jesus is Lord!”

By: Brenda Mays
December 01 2019, 8:44 am | Comments 0

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