By: Camille Troc

Last November, ICEJ Albania and Director Gentjan Dervishaj hosted ICEJ’s regional conference in Tirana, Albania, which brought together representatives from fifteen European nations. The location was selected to highlight an important chapter of Albania’s history; a chapter which is also significant for the Jewish people.

It all started with King Zogu I, the sovereign leader over Albania during the time of the Holocaust, who decided to grant passports to Jews from neighboring countries. He opened the borders of Albania to all Jewish refugees allowing them to flee the persecutions of Nazi Germany. Even with the invasion of the Nazis in Albania, the local, mostly Muslim population, hid the Jews in their homes and refused to turn them in. There were about 200 Jews in Albania at the outbreak of World War II but more than 2,000 when it ended. Today, many Albanians are recognized as “Righteous Among the Nations” not only by the Jewish people but also by God, who will most certainly release a special blessing over a country which did not hesitate to protect and save His people.

A day before the conference, we were invited for a private audience by the Crowne Prince of Albania, Leka II, who is none other than King Zogu’s grandson! As a Christian, Prince Leka would like to strengthen the moral fabric of this young society and is open to cooperate with the ICEJ in the field of education.

On the eve of the regional conference, we had the pleasure of welcoming the ambassadors of the EU, France, Hungary, Serbia and Sweden. Pastors from all around the country also attended the event, hence confirming the unity of the Church in Albania. Fifteen countries were represented at the conference: Albania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, and Israel.

The purpose of the conference was to build strong collaboration between the European countries of the East and West. For three days, our ICEJ leaders gathered together for fellowship, to share experiences and challenges, and to pray. Many ideas were discussed and new media platforms were introduced in order to build a network of strong and healthy branches. We believe effective communication and simple coordination will produce much fruit. All the leaders went back home after an inspiring weekend, encouraged and expectant to see God move in Europe.