The face of missions in Europe is changing
Tell the people who support your ministry that you had to dodge camels and donkeys to get to your ministry site. Cool!
Tell them how the local people served you something totally unrecognizable, and you had to have the courage to eat it. Wow!
But try telling them that you are living in a first world country, which is generally considered “Christian,” to plant a church. Wait, what?
It took a while after we moved from working in the Middle East with OM for people to come around and understand the deep and vast need for missionaries over here in fancy, glamourous Northern Europe. When we started sharing a few numbers about our neighbourhood and society in general, people started to understand. Some of these statistics are not pretty.
Our little neighborhood - as is the same with many immigrant areas - is made up of more than 140 nationalities, and the police and firefighters are sometimes wary to come this way without a backup patrol. For example, our city was recently quoted as the largest ISIS recruiting ground in Europe. On average, one church closes every week in this country.
When our country does manage to get itself in the international news for religious matters, it is often for things like...
- A lesbian priest who was ashamed of the cross on the wall in a chapel
- One of the leaders in one of the biggest free churches turning to Catholicism
- Young Muslim immigrants who strangle a gay man to death
Recently, we met a lady while at an evangelistic book table outreach. She came asking for a Bible and told us how she'd recently been with terrorists in Syria and now wanted to know more about Jesus.
A Middle Eastern brother in our church was hassled on the metro for drinking a Coke during Ramadan, with a crowd of Somali guys who told him that ISIS is controlling that area and his actions wouldn't be tolerated.
Things are drastically changing with worldwide missions, and one is clear: Europe is no longer the great missionary sender that it was and is now in need of missionaries on their home turf.
At the same time, there is a hunger.
There is a hunger amongst believers to learn how to reach out to the many refugees who are coming to Europe.
There is a hunger to really know what the Gospel is and how to share it.
There is a hunger amongst Christian brothers and sisters in Europe to see their countries come to Christ and to include the newly arrived immigrants in that Gospel call.
Imagine: we can speak Arabic from our years in the Middle East and have the freedom here in Europe to pass out Bibles and evangelise without worrying about the secret police, which is active in many Middle Eastern countries, throwing us in jail.
Many times, we've met Syrians who have just arrived in to our country, perhaps a day or a week ago, and we are the first “European faces” they might speak with. And we can give them a Bible and say, “Take the opportunity. This book is practically illegal in your home country."
In a way, the spiritual future of Europe stands or falls on the question, “Can you see your neighbour who doesn’t know the Lord, and what are you going to do about it?”
Being able to give the tools to people to understand the Gospel, share it with locals and refugees alike, and to faithfully share together.
….before Europe is spiritually lost.
This is what we're passionate about.
Both rejuvenating the local church and new church plants are important in Europe, so that in every area in and around Europe, there is a fellowship of believers who can pray for their area, go out and share with their neighbours, and encourage one another to live for the Lord's glory and according to His word.