Ian and Caralee Loring, arrived in Albania just as the borders were opening in May of 1991. The following is their account of how God started the work in southeast Albania:
We met some of the first refugees escaping the country into Greece. Enver Hoxha had passed away peacefully and his wife and the party had continued governing as the country was coming to an end…they had run out of most natural resources (no glass had been produced in the country for the last 3 years), all food was rationed, and very little was available. There were fights for bread in the morning as there wasn’t enough for everyone. The news of other former communist countries falling was just beginning to trickle in, even with the jamming and laws forbidding people from listening to outside radio stations. The young people got wind of things and held a revolution, pulling down the statues in the major cities. It was a peaceful revolution and an interim government took over.
The spiritual vacuum could be felt. The people were lost, everything they had been taught, everything they believed and sold their souls for was now shown to be a lie. Instead of being a prosperous country, they were actually the poorest country in Europe. All the reality hit hard and the people had nowhere to turn. The spiritual hunger for God, who they had not been allowed to even ask about, was so obvious and called us both to come and stay and share what we knew.
We discovered that there were a few “underground” believers left and were blessed to meet them. Koci Treska, who died that year, but had prayed that he would see the day that the gospel was once more preached in Albania, and he did. Ligor Cina, who became the next leader, now that their number was down to 4. He asked if we would come to help him start the church again. He had become a believer when he was young as part of a youth group, led by Edwin Jaques, a missionary who lived in Korca in between the 2 world wars. He had come to carry on the work of Phinneas Kennedy, who had a church and a school for girls, and is still well known and remembered by the elderly in Korca. We liked his vision of a well-rounded church that met the needs of the community spiritually and physically, and we have named our foundation after him and this vision (The Kennedy Foundation).