Laura and Chris
In 1989 Chris and Laura felt the call to the mission field and after the collapse of Communism in Albania during 1991 they realized that was were they needed to be, moved there and began their work. Initially, they had a simple vision to begin a small village or orphanage ministry; however, God had much greater plans! As they continued to minister, God began to birth the idea for The Stephen Center.
A couple of years later, in 1993, with the combination of Chris' creative thinking and Laura's loving help and support, this multi-faceted ministry began with the openeing of Albania’s first Christian bookstore. Soon after in 1994 they inaugurated the opening of the Stephen Center Restaurant, one of the first of five restaurants to open in Tirana after the fall of Communism.
Now, over 30 years later, their ministry has reached thousands of people in Albania, Greece, Macedonia and Kosovo. And they have been serving the Tirana community through the Stephen Center for over twenty-five years, with the ongoing desire to continue serving the Albanian community in diverse and practical ways.
Chris was born into a Greek family in Massachusetts and grew up in the Greek Orthodox Church. He graduated in 1977 from Worcester State University as a Secondary Education teacher and received a Master's Degree in Criminal Justice from Clark University in 1979. Chris worked as a police officer for the Worcester, Massachusetts Police Department from 1974 until he retired in 1991. After accepting Jesus Christ as his personal Savior in 1982, Chris served as the youth pastor and associate pastor at the Triumphant Life Church in Worcester, Massachusetts . He also founded and held the office of President for the Massachusetts branch of "Cops for Christ". He also trained 6 days a week for three years in an Okinawan style of karate called Goju-Ryu while serving in the US military in Okinawa, Japan. After serving in the military, he opened the Okinawan School of Karate in his home city. Having earned a fifth degree black belt, Chris taught self defense in the Worcester Police Department as well as in his own school...the Okinawas School of Karate in Worcester, MA.
In 1996, Chris and Laura were asked by the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel denomination to be their representative missionaries to Albania. Chris was ordained as a Foursquare Minister in 2001. Chris and Laura continue to reside in Tirana, Albania and work at the Stephen Center helping provide people with jobs and being a part of their community to help those less fortunate.