Introduction / History
The Albanians 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 what is present-day Albania.
The Albanians are divided into two major groups, the Gheg and the Tosk, according to which Albanian dialect they speak. The two dialects differ slightly in vocabulary and pronunciation. In the 1950s it was decided that the Tosk dialect would be used in all Albanian publications, since it was the one most widely spoken in Albania.
In addition to differences in dialect, the Gheg and the Tosk also have many social differences. The Gheg are a very stern and courageous people while the Tosk are known to be friendly, lively, and talkative.
The collapse of the communist regime in 1991 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. Some have decided to move to Western European countries like Denmark to make a better living.
Where are they located?
Most Gheg Albanians live in Albania, but some have managed to find better opportunities in countries in Western Europe.
What are their lives like?
Though Albanians in Western Europe are noted for criminal activity, most of them work blue collar jobs in assembly lines and the like. The ones who make the headlines are those who are involved with organized crime, and they give Albanians a bad name.
About one in ten people in Denmark are Albanians, and about three-fourths of these were born outside of Denmark.
What are their beliefs?
Centuries ago, many Albanians were converted to Islam by the Ottoman Turks. However, they practiced a type of "folk Islam," which embraced occult practices such as praying to the dead, seeking cures for sickness, and praying for protection from spirits and curses.
What are their needs?
The Albanians in Denmark need advanced language skills and educational opportunities so they can thrive in Denmark's highly advanced economy.
* Pray that God will grant His wisdom and favor to mission agencies that are currently focusing on the Gheg Albanians in Denmark.
* Pray that Bibles will be effectively distributed to Albanians in Denmark, and they will have a strong spiritual impact on the people.
* Ask God to use the small number of Gheg believers to share Christ's love with their own people. Pray that these believers will walk in a way worthy of the Lord, so they can draw others to Him.
* Pray for the Holy Spirit to birth a cascading discipleship movement among the Albanians for God's glory.
Text source: Keith Carey