1954-
portrait

April 9, 1954, Henley-on-Thames, England.

portrait

I became a Christian in February 1973 at Nottingham University where I studied Russian and German. Through my Russian studies and involvement with the Christian Union I became interested in Eastern Europe (the former Communist block) and subsequently received a calling to be involved in Christian ministry. My first posting was in 1976-77 in Italy, where I helped a pastor for three months in his ministry of care and evangelism among Russian Jews waiting to emigrate to America. In the summers of 1977 and 1978 I was given a ministry of evangelising Eastern European truckers passing through Austria. A few of these truckers were from Albania, and it was a challenge to learn how to communicate with them to share the Gospel with them. It was at that time that I realised just how little Christian literature there was available in their language and what we had, they couldn’t understand because it was in old Albanian. So when in September 1978 I got married to my wife Rosemary and started working as a Russian-English translator near Munich in southern Germany, we started learning Albanian together in my lunch breaks. We started working together with Sali Rahmani, the Albanian radio evangelist, who just happened to be living in Munich at the time, and we very soon realised that there were hardly any Christian songs in Albanian, so with his encouragement and help I started in the summer of 1979 translating my first short choruses into Albanian, and in November 1979 we made our first recordings. In 1980 I started writing a Christmas cantata in Albanian based on the then existent translation of the Christmas story, which we eventually performed in Tirana over Christmas 1991.

At the end of 1979 we moved to Linz in Austria so that we could evangelise the unreached Kosovan guest workers there. Although we didn’t see much fruit among the Kosovans, by 1991 we had our own small international Christian fellowship. Our time in Austria ended in 1984 when due to pressure from the authorities we were forced to leave. In the summer/autumn of 1984 we moved back to Germany, this time to Freilassing near Salzburg, where I started part-time work as an English teacher to adults. It was here in Freilassing, a few years later, that I translated the carol, Silent Night, only 10 kilometers away from Oberdorf where the original of that song had been written.

Some of our Kosovan friends in Linz invited us to visit them in Kosovo, so in the early 1980s we made our first trips to Kosovo. In December 1985 I was picked up by the police. When they realised that in a Serbian Moslem area I had Christian literature in Albanian with me, I was detained and interrogated in Albanian because they thought I was a spy from Albania. This resulted in my being barred from Yugoslavia for three years. However, our ministry to the Albanians continued. In 1986 we made our first Albanian song cassette, followed by a short hymn book, a carols book and a book of choruses.

Towards the end of the 1980s, with the tremendous political changes in Eastern Europe, my field of ministry expanded, and I spent much time visiting and ministering in the former Soviet Union and in other East European countries. Then in 1991, when the changes affected Albania, we were invited to take part in the first evangelistic crusade in Tirana. With war brewing in Yugoslavia, we then tended to concentrate our Albanian ministry more on Albania than Kosovo. During that time I concentrated more intensively on hymn translation, and in 1995 we produced a hymnbook with 50 hymns, that we were only able to photocopy and distribute in a limited way among friends.

In 1992 we thought about moving from Germany to Eastern Europe and purchased a house in Bulgaria. This was the start of an intensive pastoral ministry from 1993 to 1997 among the gypsy population of Bulgaria. As a result of the unrest in Yugoslavia during the 1990’s we had a growing contact to Kosovan refugees in Germany. In 1995 we were asked by the pastor of an international church in Lemgo, Germany, to translate for Albanians coming to his annual evangelistic retreats, and then subsequently he commissioned me to translate choruses and songs for his international church into Russian and Albanian.

In 1997 my wife fell seriously ill with borealiosa. This severely curtailed my ministry in Bulgaria and meant that we could not move there as we had originally wanted to. But translation of songs and children’s material into Albanian continued and in a small way is still continuing to this very day. My wife’s sickness was not able to extinguish her love for the Albanians. In 2000 and 2001, when she was still very unwell, she gave the last of her strength to organise and run sporadic children’s meetings for Kosovan refugees.

In 2002 my wife Rosemary became so ill that she went back to England so that she could get 24-hour care. In July 2001 she was dismissed from the hospital because the doctors didn’t know how to help her. Then the Great Physician, Jesus Christ stepped in and started a gradual healing process in her that went against all medical expectation. The reality of this improvement in her health was crowned in July 2002, when, after many years absence, she went on her own back to Kosovo, to attend the wedding of an Albanian refugee that had helped her in her time of need.

Jan Foss, 2003

  1. Ësht’ e Vërtet’, Ai Shëron
  1. A Je Ti i Lodhur
  2. A Ke Marrë Pastrimin
  3. Atë Lavdëroje
  4. Bën Ti Ç’të Duash
  5. Çdo Gjë T’vogël Dhe Të Madhe
  6. Çdo Gjë Unë Të Dorëzoj
  7. Dashuri Mbi Dashuri
  8. Engjëjt, Duke Fluturuar
  9. Engjëjt Na Kumtojn’ Tani
  10. Engjëjt Prej Lavdisë Së Qiejve
  11. Ësht’ e Vërtet’, Ai Shëron
  12. Gjith’ Ju Që Besoni
  13. K’tu, Zoti Im
  14. Kur Paqja, Si Lum
  15. Kurban Jezusi Më Shpërbleu
  16. Kurorëzo Atë Mbi Fronin, Qengjin Tonë
  17. Larg Larg Në Vende T’err’ta
  18. Me Një Dashuri Të Shtrenjtë
  19. Më Tepër Dashuri
  20. Natë e Shenjtë!
  21. Një Gjë Shumë e Çuditshme
  22. Një Natë, Kur Ca Barinj
  23. Njëherë Në Një Stallë
  24. Nuk Di, Pse Zoti Mirësinë
  25. O Dashnor i Shpirtit Tim
  26. O Frym’ e Jetës, Ti Përshkona
  27. Për Një Zgjim Në Tër’ Botën
  28. Për Ty Unë Kam Nevojë
  29. Pranë Kryqit Mua Më Mbaj
  30. Pjsesëmarrje Unë A Mund T’fitoj
  31. Qytet i Vogël, Bethlehem
  32. Sa e Thellë Është Dashuria
  33. Sa Hir Madh’shtor
  34. Tek Kryqi i Jezusit
  35. Zërin Tënd Po E Dëgjoj
  36. Zot Shpërblyes Udhëheqmë
  37. Zoti Më Zgjodhi!
  38. Zoti Yt Vjen!