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Meet Leonard (Nardi) Doka
Nardi was born 21 March 1960, in the city of Durrės, on the western seacoast of Albania. His parents were Christian Orthodox, but with the censure of all religion in 1967, they could not openly exercise their belief. They were both teachers.
His first contact with the Gospel was when he was almost 10 years old, when he found a Gospel of John on the sea shore. He later found out that a Christian missionary ship, as well as the Vatican, had thrown Gospels of John tracts into the sea off the coast in hopes that many would make it to shore and be picked up by people. Later when he was in the army he came across Trans World radio programs (then broadcast out of Monaco, but now broadcasting from Albania itself) and listened secretly to the broadcast in Albanian. He remembers well the great joy he felt in both cases when he read the gospel and heard these programs.
Then came 1990 when Albania was opened to the Gospel. Nardi worked for the police department as a radio operator and was a popular local rock singer in the early days of freedom. His influence throughout the Durrės area was significant. Some time later he came into contact with Operation Mobilization (a broad-based evangelical group) that started a church in Durrės, which he began attending. He was baptized in June, 1991. Because of his background in music, having led a local variety show band consisting mostly of rock and Italian music, he was asked to lead worship and sing worship and gospel songs. Later, he was asked to serve as an elder in that church, which he did until recently when a Reformed Presbyterian Church began in his town in 2007.
In 1992, he met Rev. Patrick Dickens (missionary from Reformation Christian Ministries) through Berti Kona, an Albanian friend. (After some years in studying at Greenville, South Carolina, Berti returned to his home town of Durrės and began the new Reformed Presbyterian Church). Berti and Nardi were in the same evangelical church. Once Berti introduced Nardi to Rev. Dickens and his family, they both started attending the reading room established by the Dickens and through this came into contact with many good reformed books and started to read Calvin and other Reformed writers. Here began his journey into the Reformed Faith, a long and difficult journey which started with the books and discipleship of Rev. Dickens, while attending their evangelical church. His on-going connection with that evangelical church was difficult, especially at the point of wanting to have his daughter baptized. His church refused to baptize her because they did not believe in covenant baptism of infants. Nevertheless, he graciously finished his relationship with them on good terms and is now participating in the new Reformed Presbyterian Church that is being established in Durrės, where his daughter has now been baptized, after many years of waiting (see p. 3, Mar-Apr 2008 RCM Newsletter).
He was introduced to RCM and Rev. Geoffrey Donnan by Rev. Dickens. When Rev. Dickens was forced to leave Albania due to the illness of his parents in 1995, Nardi and Berti worked together to oversee the Reformed Reading Room established by the Dickens. Berti soon began working with another organization and so the responsibilities fell almost entirely upon Nardi. However, additional work was necessary and it was during this time that he began working with Child Evangelism Fellowship primarily translating materials from other languages (principally English and Italian) into Albanian. He began there in 1995, and also worked along side of his soon to be wife, Enkeleida. The two were married later in 1997 and the marriage ceremony was officiated by none other than Rev. Dickens, who made a special trip back to Albania at their request, to perform the marriage ceremony of the first reformed marriage ever to have taken place (at least in recent years) in Durrės). They now have a daughter who was born in August of 2003 named Sara.
His wife Enkeleida attended Pentecostal Assemblies of God church and was baptized there in 1994, but has fully embraced the Reformed faith after learning about it from Nardi.
In 1999, he began officially to study Reformed theology through the seminary program of Reformation Christian Ministries (then in a very fledgling stage) and during this time was introduced to the Good News Bible Study. He first actually met Rev. Donnan in 2001 during a trip to the USA where he stayed with his family in Florida for a number of days and enjoyed a renewed visit with Rev. Dickens and one of his sons who came from Arkansas to meet with Nardi and his wife. They were treated to a trip to Disneyland's Epcot Center. Rev. Donnan then paid a visit to Albania on the heels of one of his trips to Italy in early November 2003 and stayed with the Doka family at their apartment in Durrės. It was during this time that discussions began of Nardi doing translation work and other forms of helping maintain the small beachhead for Reformed theology that was established by the Dickens family back in 1992-1995.
(Picture at right: Nardi, Enkeleida and Sara Doka, 2008.)
In 2007, his contract with Child Evangelism Fellowship came to an end and it was about that same time that Rev. Donnan again paid a visit to Albania (after visiting Italy after the death of Dr. Franco Maggiotto) in May of 2007, that the current relationship was formally established. Nardi and his wife are now elated at the small but hopeful beginnings of a Reformed Presbyterian Church in their home town and are cementing the ties between RCM and this work, as part of his responsibilities in Albania.
RCM is very pleased to have a capable and competent translator and administrator and are now deep in their planning and bringing to pass their ministry of outreach and education in Albania so as to promote the Reformed faith and Reformed and Presbyterian churches in that country. Nardi will be responsible for establishing and maintaining relationships with others of like precious faith, administering the Good News Bible Study in the Albanian language, and also responding to the many questions that will be coming in through the Albanian website once it is officially launched. He also is assisting with the Italian language editing since he is fluent in that language as well. He also will be responsible for the oversight of the Committee on the Westminster Confession of Faith, Westminster Larger Catechism and Westminster Shorter Catechism, which have all been translated by RCM personnel. They will be made generally available to all churches of like faith for use, but RCM will maintain oversight of their accuracy of translation and any suggestions that might arise as to suggested changes as more people become familiar with them. In time, as more churches are established, it is expected that this oversight will be turned over to an Albanian committee.
Your prayers are urged for Leonard and Enkeleida Doka as they seek to be used of God in Albania for its Reformation to the glory of God, especially in seeing that the true gospel goes forth through RCM's website and that those who respond may be established in like-minded churches.
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Pictures from the town of Durrės, Albania where the Dokas and RCM's Albania office are located.
Albanian condominiums (formerly government owned apartments). The Dokas live in the one to the far right on the fifth floor right on the Adriatic Sea coast.
Durrės is the main seaport for the whole of Albania. This picture is taken a few blocks from the Doka residence and overlooks the main shipping pier through which most imported goods are offloaded for transport throughout the country. It is also the main ferry terminal between Albania and Bari, Italy for passengers going to and from Italy and Albania.
Street in central Durrės. A staggering difference between our first trip in 1993 and this trip in 2007 is the incredible number of satellite TV dishes on virtually every condo balcony, as well as the tremendous increase in automobiles.