Durres Christian Centre was started at the end of September 1996 by missionary, Rev. David J. Pennoyer, his wife Valbona, and a number of 12 and 13 year olds who were in their English classes. At our first service in a little bar we had over 70 in attendance and had to move in just over 2 months. Our second church was a pool hall and it was in this place that we continued to have services during the civil war when there were curfews and constant gunfire all around.
We had to move from there to our third building in just over a year because we were having too many disruptions from the neighbourhood kids even though we were a quarter of a block from the police station. When we moved to this third building we continued to grow to about 150-170 so we had to have 3 services each Sunday as we were only able to comfortably seat 50-55 at a time seeing we were in a room approximately 3 meters (10 feet) by 8 meters (25 feet).
In 1999 during the Kosovo crisis we were able to help many of those who were displaced from their homeland, which kept us very busy. As we gave of ourselves God began to give back to us and in a matter of months we grew to around 500, still in this little room. In December 1999 we moved to our fourth building, which was a renovated warehouse. Again in 2000, God began to move and miraculously provided the funds so we could buy the land and this warehouse.
Then in 2001 because of our partnership with LIFE OUTREACH INTERNATIONAL and James Robison we were able to complete all four floors of our new Albanian Life Centre. At the 5th Anniversary of our church we were able to have the Grand Opening of our Life Centre with 650 in attendance. Since then God has granted us more growth to where in January 2002 we were averaging about 750 still in 3 morning services as we can now seat only 200.
In October 2002 we were able to mother another church about 1 km away from our present location. Around 100 of our people lived in that area and as of the Spring 2003 we were averaging about 160. Also our church in the village which was started around the same time is now averaging between 60 and 90.
A time of trial
As of May 2003 our 4 churches were running over 1000. Then a number of negative things happened including the suicide of a number of youth from one of the well known Cults. The news media got a hold of this and caused an epidemic of fear and panic telling people not to send their children to church or go themselves because they would be taught to commit suicide. Our attendance plummeted to about 150. We had to close down 2 of our churches and gave one away to another ministry.
Rebuilding the foundations
In 2006 we started another church in a nearby village and our work has stabilized and started to grow again to where in 2013 we were running around the 200 mark. We are anticipating great things in the future.