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I recently spent three days in Albania, mostly in the northern city of Shkoder. The main purpose of my visit was to discuss
details concerning an Extension School due to begin operations in October. Since the fall of the communist regime in Albania in 1991, the Italian Bible Institute, and I personally, have been involved in teaching and training Albanian believers, many of whom now have leadership roles in churches and Gospel outreach of various kinds.

At Shkoder there is a thriving assembly which began to take shape after a group of our students spent some weeks evangelising in June 1992, after which Eunice and I spent some time following up this work with an intensive teaching programme. Most Albanians knew enough Italian to bene t from this. I will never forget the young men who would continue asking questions until late in the evening then, the following morning, were already reading their Bibles when we rose for breakfast. Some years later one of these young men spent two years in fulltime study at the Italian Bible Institute, partly sponsored by a special fund from GC3. Meriton, seen in the photo with his wife, will coordinate the forthcoming IBI Extension School at Shkoder.

 

After accepting the position of Academic Dean at IBI in 1987, after consultation with my sending church (RSCC, Cambridge),
I soon realised that a residential programme was insu cient for meeting the needs of the Italian churches. So began a pilot
programme of Distance learning and our  rst Extension School which functioned at the same academic level and with similar content to our  rst year residential programme. I also saw the need and multiple values of such programmes being accredited. My main mandate, when elected to the European Evangelical Accrediting Association in 1997, was to initiate the process by which Distance Learning and Extension Schools, became recognised, in the European context, as valid modes of delivery of theological training, and candidates for accreditation.

This diversi ed approach to theological and practical training has made it possible to help many local churches throughout Italy prepare the next generation of leaders and Christian workers. Our periodical, LUX BIBLICA, published twice yearly since 1990, has been another way of consolidating the growth of our students and of assisting other Church leaders by providing them with articles and monographs on signi cant themes relative to Biblical theology and Church life.

Ron Diprose PhD

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