Celebrating Fifteen Years of ISTL
In the spirit of celebrating God’s faithfulness, I am pleased to share a glimpse of the International School of Theology & Leadership’s rich history and its dedication to equipping students for ministry.
ISTL, now in its fifteenth school year, began in September 2008 with the initial vision of serving as a local church educational programme. Initially intended to equip its members for leadership and church planting, ISTL quickly gained momentum as pastors and missionaries recognised the need for broader ministry training.
The school’s growth has transcended denominational and national boundaries, training students from over forty different denominations and independent churches, not only in Albania but also from Kosovo, North Macedonia, the Philippines, Ireland, and beyond. ISTL has truly evolved into an international and interdenominational leadership Bible school, making a significant impact on the Balkans.
Currently boasting around a hundred active students in our bachelor programme, ISTL contributes to the development of over a hundred churches and numerous ministries planted and facilitated by its dedicated students and alumni. Despite the challenges of 2019, including earthquakes and a global pandemic, ISTL has shown resilience and adaptability by successfully transitioning to online learning, and expanding its reach to distant areas
In addition to our Bachelor of Theology programme, ISTL has expanded its offerings in collaboration with TCM International Institute, allowing students to pursue a master’s degree. Looking ahead, ISTL remains committed to equipping, networking, resourcing, and enabling students for the challenges and opportunities of ministry, with a focus on church planting, strengthening existing churches, and missions, and pioneering in areas where the Gospel has yet to reach.
One of the highlights of our journey was receiving accreditation from the European Council for Theological Education (ECTE) this year. Carmen Crouse, the Director of Accreditation from ECTE, joined us during our celebration of this affirming milestone. This accreditation not only underscores the commitment to academic excellence at ISTL but also positions us as the first accredited school of theology in Albania.
Students at ISTL testify to the transformative impact of their education, expressing gratitude for the depth of biblical knowledge and critical thinking instilled during their studies. As one student eloquently stated, “ISTL has helped me a lot to grow more in the Word of God. I have gone deeper in the Word of God because of the studies here, and what I have done here will remain and will be given in the ministry.”
ISTL began with the passion to fulfil the Great Commission of our Lord, by making and equipping disciples. We feel that this is the most effective strategy to impact lives, and through them, transform the society around us.
Throughout my thirty years of ministry, I have come to a clearer understanding of a threefold purpose of the gospel: the Great Priority, the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. The Great Priority is seeking God’s Kingdom and His righteousness. The Great Commandment is loving God and your neighbour and the Great Commission is making disciples.
Conversely, making disciples secures the next generation of leaders that will impact church life, encouraging the experience and expression of loving God and your neighbour. As a result, more of society will be transformed into an expression of God’s Kingdom. His righteousness will cascade onto all aspects of life and draw us closer to His image.
Hervin Fushekati, Executive Director of ISTL
By Eri Ndreca, Vice Principal of International School of Theology & Leadership, Tirana, Albania