A Short History of the Evangelical Church of Bilisht, Albania
In the summer of 1994, a team from Anchorage, Alaska, was invited to work alongside a handful of Albanian Jesus followers, survivors of 45 years of severe Communism.
The Alaska and Albanian teams worked together in Bilisht (“be-leashed”), a thriving town near the Greek border, with an emphasis on children & youth ministries, outdoor gospel concerts in Bilisht’s town center and gospel conversations in homes regarding the newly published Albanian Bible. (Folks were thrilled – Bibles, prohibited for decades under Communism, became available in Albanian). Subsequently, many came to faith in Jesus and the believers began to meet together. Later, the believers rented a storefront and thus began the ministry of Evangelical Church of Bilisht. In 2003, the church acquired a parcel of land, the focus of many prayers gatherings. Subsequently, funds became available to construct a building which today serves the believers and community.
Arjan Larashi served as pastor of the Evangelical Church for 24 years until the spring of 2018. During those years, many came to faith in Christ and were touched by God’s love and life.
However, a transition in call came for Arjan and his family in 2017 to serve as an equipper and teacher of pastors throughout Albania, and the church began to examine what would be next. After much prayer and consultation, the church asked Elidion Lilo, then serving the nearby Evangelical Church of Erseka, to come as pastor.
On Sunday, June 17, 2018, a large crowd from Albania and the US gathered for worship and the installation of Doni Lilo as pastor of the Evangelical Church of Bilisht. Doni and his wife, Gail, with their four children, Koreta, Arbër, Tereza, and Elira, now serve as Alongsiders in Bilisht.