Arben & Irma
Beni and Irma are joined in ministry by the staff team of Ted Bukowsky and Altin Kurraj, Samuel and Sibora (their adult children), and many other volunteers and partners. They are committed to advancing the good news of Jesus throughout Albania and the whole Balkan region. Having seen the results of removing God from all areas of society, they were originally part of an early church planting ministry in 1991 but felt God call them to help their country find its worshipping voice and to use music for strategic outreach. This led to the founding of Selah Worship Arts Ministry.
MIWC Partner: Selah Worship Art Ministry
Selah Worship Art Ministry (WAM) was co-founded by Arben and Irma after a call from God to build up and encourage the next generation of worshipers in Albania and beyond and to make worshippers who are disciples of Jesus in Truth and Spirit.
Selah WAM focuses on teaching, training, equipping and encouraging worshipers, worship leaders and the Body of Christ in and out of Albania through the School of Worship and weekly activities, Worship Camps and worship Nights, Worship Evangelistic events and worship and prayer events.
With easy access to the whole Balkan peninsula, this ministry is already having a significant impact on the region, leading outreach and training events in many surrounding countries.
Selah collaborated with MIWC in 2021, becoming its newest ministry partner.
Music Ministry in Albania
Selah Worship Art Ministry is unique in the Balkan region – the only organization of its kind raising up worship teams, training worship leaders and equipping churches for worship. There is a hunger for musical, theological and leadership training, and for discipleship and evangelism through music and the arts. Arben and Irma have no shortage of people asking Selah to come and minister, but they are are limited by a lack of consistent funding.
Albania is a developing country with very little money to spend on worship training and education. Since the 15th century Albania has been under the constant invasion of other nations, religions and doctrines. Between 1945-1991, Albanians suffered under a very severe communist dictatorship regime (comparable to North Korea today). During this time, all religious buildings were destroyed or used for propaganda purposes and any religious practices could result in imprisonment or martyrdom.
Even in today’s democracy, Christians are in the minority. The needs are great, and your partnership can make a huge difference.
In addition to a passion to reach Albania, Selah is already reaching out to and partnering with the countries surrounding them. These cultures share historical connection and have strong ethnic ties to one another. Churches and Christian organizations in the region meet yearly at the Balkan Call worship and prayer conference. Selah helps lead this event that is calling on Believers to pray for and reach the Balkans.
TESTIMONY OF FAITH
We are Arben (Ben) & Irma Xhako. We have 2 children.
We are the founders and leaders of Selah Worship Art Ministry, located in Albania.
After nearly five and a half centuries under the Ottoman empire, five decades of isolation and 23 years of a constitutional ban of any faith and religion practice, Albania opened up for the Gospel in 1991 when the Communist regime fell. We were both teenagers then, faithless and wondering.
We became believers in the next few years to come and were amongst the few first believers in our respective young churches. Ben got involved in a non Christian blues and jazz band before committing his life to Christ, became a worship leader and was one of the first appointed worship leaders in Albania. Irma committed her life to Jesus through her translation work for the first team of missionaries in her hometown.
We served the Lord in our home churches for several years each. After we got married, we moved to northern Albania to start the church in Pukam, where we served for 9 years. Since 2006, we have been helping in other church plants and have moved toward the calling of God to build up and encourage the next generation of worshipers in Albania and beyond.
We serve as a family with our children Samuel & Sibora. They are University students (Biotechnology & Veterinary Medicine).
Samuel is the Worship leader at IPA (International Protestant Assembly of Tirana) and Sibora helps there, too.
Updated August 2023
Greetings to you, brothers and sisters in Christ!
Thank you for serving Christ and for your prayers for Music Ministry and Outreach in the Balkans!
- Wisdom: There are so many needs, and churches all around Albania continue to request help. There are simply not enough hours in the day to go to all these places. Selah asks for wisdom as they choose what events to participate in and how best to meet the needs of those they serve. Pray for the Selah Board as they meet in September.
- Upcoming events: training and planning with churches in Macedonia as they seek to effectively lead outreach into their communities (September), a large conference at the end of the month in Albania (September), and a planning team meeting (October) for the Balkan Call conference that will be held in November in Croatia.
- Unity: Pray for wisdom, clarity, peace, and unity among believers in Albania.
- Staff Provision: Pray for the long-term staff needs in the areas of skilled musicians and teachers, administration, and media. Some needs have recently been addressed with the addition of one new staff member, but there are still crucial areas to be filled.
- Financial Provision: Inflation has hit Albania in a very serious way.
- Building for Selah: Prayer for a building to house the Selah Training Center. The original option for space has unexpectedly fallen through, so the team is looking for new venues. This is huge prayer request!
- Training Center: Pray for focus and patience for the team leaders as they work toward opening the needed 6-month residential school (Selah Worship Art Training Center). The target date is January 2024.