Europe – the challenge and opportunity
James Henderson, in addition to being National Director in the United Kingdom, is also one of the Missions Directors for Europe. He writes the following:
Modern Europe is changing. Alongside stereotypical national images is emerging a new world order with staggering potential. The sad thing is that this brave new world is often godless. God is not on the agenda. Europe has been called neo-pagan, post-Christian.
Of course, communities of Christians do survive and at times thrive, and in some places an archaic form of Christianity remains amidst the debris of failed state religion, adhered to nominally for the most part. Faith in Christ, however, is in short supply whereas secularism, humanism and faith as multiculturalism seem the order of the day. To be a Christian is regarded as possibly fanatical, a social indiscretion or an embarrassing inconvenience.
Europe is stony ground indeed for the gospel. But the work of faith must go on. Christians tell their stories of courageous faith amidst an increasingly disinterested and sometimes hostile society.
What can our denomination do in the spiritual wilderness that is Europe? We think that God can perform a miracle. Just as he transformed the five loaves and two fishes and fed thousands, so Christ can take what little we offer and through his miracle feed spiritually tens of thousands. Scattered throughout Europe we have grace-filled congregations and contacts who seek to be used by God in his mighty work. We need to hold their hands in faith. Below is an introduction to their stories. Please pray with us that God will use us to proclaim the good news of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Box 603, FIN-00101 Helsinki
Chiesa Cristiana della Grazia, Casella Postale 67, 24030 Brembate di Sopra (BG) E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Postboks 117 Holmlia, N-1202 Oslo
Box 5380, S-102 49 Stockholm
Weltweite Kirche Gottes, Postfach 8215, 8036 Zürich E-Mail: email@example.com
United Kingdom and Middle East:
P O Box 7703, Market Harborough, LE16 7ZG Phone number in the U.K.: 01858 437 099 (from outside the U.K. +441858437099) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
United Kingdom and Ireland
There are 1,414 members in the British Isles and Ireland, meeting in 46 congregations. However, without God, we are nothing. Our fellowship has come to realize clearly that we cannot do his work on our own strength. In the UK and Ireland, we have rededicated ourselves to the work of God. It is our prayer that he will use us for the furtherance of his gospel. Our congregations participate in living and sharing the gospel nationally and locally where they live. To find out more, check out our website at www.wcg.org.uk.
The church has had members in Estonia since 1988. In 1989 one of our members together with seven other Estonians started an organisation that could help fellow Estonians. This project is now one of the largest Estonian organisations helping released criminals find work and housing, helping street children, a boy’s home for the homeless and other projects. We have 15 members living in Tartu, Estonia, which is the second-largest city in the country. The Scandinavian pastor visits Estonia four times a year serving the members, holding public lectures, where the public requests the topics. And for the last three years we have held a summer school for the Estonian youth of the town of Kallaste. The local school requested the subjects: Basic and advanced English, Computer, Art, Principles of living and American football (especially requested by the local school)!
L’Eglise Universelle de Dieu / Le Monde à Venir is a Christian community of 700 members spread over 10 churches in metropolitan France and three churches in the Caribbean. In France, churches are in Bordeaux, Laval, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Metz, Narbonne, Selestat-Mulhouse, Paris and Orléans. House churches are also being developed. The church’s work in France began 40 years ago, in 1967, with the publication of a magazine. Our magazine La Vie Chrétienne reflects our new understanding and doctrinal orientations. We teach salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. The church teaches the values of the New Testament and that salvation is offered to all humanity. Members are encouraged to live their daily lives according to these principles.
The National Ecclesiastical Council, composed of three pastors and a spokesperson, works hand in hand with the church board to offer pastoral care and handle administrative matters. We encourage members to get involved in church activities as well as in their local communities. Outreach ministries for the elders, youth and little ones are encouraged and developed. A prayer ministry binds the local churches with our scattered members and those who are in difficult situations. The annual "Celebration of the Kingdom" is a strong moment in the life of our Christian community. Information can be obtained on our website: http://www.laviechretienne.com/. Email: email@example.com Street address: 53 rue Raymond Losserand, 75014 PARIS – France.
In 1982, there were only a few Italian members. They had come into contact with us in other parts of the world. The first elder was ordained in 1985, and congregations were formed in Rome, Milan and Catania. New contacts mainly came through heavily subsidized media: a nationwide television program, an Italian version of our magazine, which at one point had a circulation of 100,000, and through various booklets on aspects of Christian living and doctrine.
Today the church in Italy is growing again, mainly through personal evangelism, and there are about 120 people meeting in small groups or churches in Turin, Milan, Genoa, Trento, Vicenza, Ancona, Rome, Bari, Catania and Lercara Friddi (Sicily) and Sassari (Sardinia). There are also members in Alessandria, Naples and the Calabria region. The church publishes a free quarterly magazine titled Seguimi and organizes a nationwide festival during the last week of each August.
The Portuguese church is small in numbers but big in heart. Our members are geographically distant from one another, some living in the north, south and central part of the country. There are also members in the Madeira and Azores islands. Portugal has a long coastline facing the Atlantic Ocean and in the age of discovery established colonies in diverse parts of the world. They share language and cultural links with these countries. Meetings are held in the Lisbon area, so if you are ever in Portugal you are welcome to fellowship with us. Our website www.idm.pt contains our contact information as well as many articles in the Portuguese language.
We have had members in Scandinavia since the mid 1950s. The members have always been scattered in this region because they came in contact with the church through mass media. There are 65 members in the three Scandinavian countries of Norway, Sweden and Denmark. The church has regular meetings in Oslo, Copenhagen, Stockholm and in other areas on a less regular basis. The church produces five booklets a year in Norwegian, Swedish and Danish with a readership of just over 1,000. The church has a homepage in all three languages: www.gvks.org. We have Estonia as an outreach project and serves the members there. In recent years we have held a summer school for Estonian youth of the town of Kallaste. The regional pastor for Scandinavia is Carl Fredrik Aas.
There are currently 25 members attending our three multi-cultural congregations in Basel, Zürich and Geneva. The church in Switzerland subsidizes the printing of a Christian magazine in the Italian language entitled Seguimi. Among the projects supported by Swiss members is a youth camp in Estonia, as well as a humanitarian program supporting street children and released prisoners.