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Please help to ignite the Great Re-Awakening in Europe

Discussion in 'Missions, Evangelism & Witnessing' started by BrotherMichael, Nov 14, 2006.

  1. Molly Robbie

    Molly Robbie New Member

    8
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    United States
    Anglican
    Married
    Interesting, we have still been mostly focused on the traditional mission efforts with the indigenous European population of church rebuildings and re-populating local churches or constructing new ones if needed. We do it in a sort of non-denominational way, which has been interesting in France as there has been a huge revival in traditional French Catholicism there, not only in the rural but also in the cities now. Though we have been shifting some resources more towards conversion in a few places in France and Germany. We have also seen this, so many of the refugees and North Africans are thirsty to become part of the church after seeing the devastation of their communities in the Mideast, and they come to us and then bring their new faith back to their homelands. We're very encouraged by this
     
  2. Pioneer3mm

    Pioneer3mm Active Member Supporter

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    United States
    Christian
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    Good Topic!
    Europe needs spiritual awakening.
     
  3. Galworth

    Galworth Newbie

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    Baptist
    Agreed! This is one of the things that pleases me most about this collective effort, it truly is an awakening of mind, body and soul in the historical home of the faith. It has an especial resonance there with people once they do have that awakening, the reminders of their spiritual legacy are around them in every major and minor city.
     
  4. Delanie

    Delanie Newbie

    38
    +19
    Christian
    This is true! And worth keeping in mind. The ministries in Europe have a "visual aid" in form of all the religious architecture all around them. Even in secular countries where the Gothic and Romanesque churches are often looked at like tourist attractions, even the most secularized villages inevitably have a lot of people thinking at some point about the faith that made their people and continent so strong. This has been a factor in the revival of Catholic worship in France, Austria, southern Germany, Italy, Spain and Belgium. But it has also helped even in countries like Netherlands considered more secular. The American and Canadian ministers had many of our early Dutch ministries in well-established churches there while we were building new ones, and simply being inside those structures, absorbing thier history and spiritual richness, was a boost in bringing the locals to come regularly to worship. Also helped to convert many Syrian, Turkish and Iraqi refugees very quickly, their hearts and minds found warmth and support in the medieval churches, it made them feel they were part of something special and they felt at home.
     
  5. Galworth

    Galworth Newbie

    18
    +14
    Baptist
    Thank you for sharing this. We have also had increasing success with our group in converting Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Sweden, Germany, Belgium and France particularly, and your post got me thinking about the reasons why. In a couple spectacular cases, we have had entire clans of refugees convert in the utmost sincerity, attending their churches--often new ones we ourselves have built--with reliable regularity, and changing their and their children's names, both first and last, to Christian names consistent with local customs, a key mark in our view of a committed conversion. On reflection, I believe this has much to do with the Christian heritage and general "character" of certain regions of Europe as expressed in the modern ministries.

    We are a story-telling and story-listening people after all, and the rich narratives of Christian love and charity, with enough effort, win out over the violence, submission and subjugation of Islam every time. This is especially true in the regions of Europe with a long and visible heritage of Christian richness and outreach, even where we have built new churches, local folktales about Christian heroes, martyrs and saints make a huge difference in encouraging conversion, as well as bringing locals back into the flock. I will readily admit that Syrians and Iraqis, and many Turks, Kurds, North Africans Iranians have an easier time converting partly because they tend to physically resemble the locals for most part, for some reason, and this can speed integration. However, I did not think this is the major factor, it is largely because the converts sense a supportive community that has been rooted in centuries of tradition that they want to join, and even when they return back to their homes in North Africa or the Middle East, they often carry the zeal of the Gospel with them, winning more converts for the church in its original homes throughout the region.
     
  6. Delanie

    Delanie Newbie

    38
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    Christian
    Yes I like this take on it! This is the very foundation of what the New Testament is, an assembling of stories about how the Son of God, heralded by Isaiah, was brought to earth to dwell among us and provide salvation across the world's tribes and nations, not limited to a single favored group as had been the case in previous houses of worship. This is what we do in our ministries, we tell the original stories surrounding what Jesus conveyed in the Gospels and the stories that arose after them, and Europe's great houses of worship add to those stories in themselves.
     
  7. Galworth

    Galworth Newbie

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    Baptist
    I know you've said you've been most active in Netherlands, but if you're in the south of France anytime soon, I'd strongly recommend a day trip to the St. Nazaire Cathedral in Beziers. It's inspiring in the way you say, it connects worshipers to the rich history of our Church, and it's been one of the focal points for the Catholic resurgence in the country. A wonderful sight to take in and be inspired further.
     
  8. Robkal

    Robkal New Member

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    United States
    Pentecostal
    Married
    Brought this up in another thread but looks like this one is square one for the big missionary push today, our youth ministers have been making a big push for European ministries and my wife and I have recently decided to make the jump, with a preference to ministry in Sweden esp. around Stockholm. Just wondering anyone have experience doing mission work there, or in the other Nordic countries? How hard was it to get settled, join or form your missionary team, get work and master the language? We've been told it's easy to start out just using English in the Nordic countries for work and initial ministry, which is attractive, although they encourage you to learn Swedish, or Finnish or whatever you're using in the country after a few years. Did you study much of the language before leaving or learn it there? They say Sweden provides a lot of free language classes, how do you sign up for them? Also there are apparently grants for church-building in many of the countries. My wife and I have only minimal ancestry in Nordic countries, though we've been told this isn't a huge factor. Obviously helps to come with certain job skills for just dealing with the visa, esp. computer skills, any suggestions about this? Anyone done the "indirect route" (like moving to Estonia or east Europe country easier to go to, and then to Sweden)? Even though Sweden has reputation for being very secular, in fact the cultural situation is different form what we usually think in the US, they're apparently very interested in strengthening Christian communities there.


    BTW we are long-term movers, that is my wife and I are planning to settle permanently in Sweden or wherever we go and raise our kids there and not return to the States (or Australia where my wife's from). So we're also thinking citizenship, community family support, bringing over relatives too. We'd be very interested in learning more!
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2019
  9. Ecclesiasticus

    Ecclesiasticus New Member

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    United States
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    Married
    I was a little young when our church ministry network was sending people on the European missions, but I do recall now that several of the "settling ministers" (planing roots in the new country and raising their own families there among their congregation) did indeed establish themselves in Sweden. We're mostly a US Sun Belt church network, but we did have several participating churches from the Midwest, into Canada and even a couple from Australia (Queensland and Western Australia) and New Zealand (Auckland). A couple of the Minnesota churches, perhaps due to connections with the Old Country helped to sponsor mission training for Sweden, Norway and Finland, and wound up getting more volunteers than they expected, from all across our international network!

    I can't speak with certainty but my understanding is that Sweden ranked in the Top 4 or 5 of the most favorable destinations for the European missions, with I believe France or Austria in the top spot for our network, and Germany or Netherlands/Belgium in there at 3 or 4. Sweden is curiously more Christian than they seem despite their secular veneer, and there's a surprising amount of state support for for both new and established churches, often in the form of matching funds, even for new churches started by North American and Australian/New Zealander ministers. They'll even let you work in English for a few years while getting yourself planted, though eventually you should aim to learn at least conversational Swedish and of course, you'll make headway with the locals only when you can deliver at least a simple sermon in Swedish, or at least team up with Swedish volunteers in crafting and making the sermons.

    As for the indirect route you mentioned, again can't speak with certainty, but as I understand it, at least three in the group who went to the Nordic countries (two to Sweden, one to Finland) did indeed do something like this, though I cant really confirm details. One started in Bulgaria, got residence there and then proceeded to start a church in Malmo, another began in Lithuania and then spent a year in Romania to get residence before going to northern Sweden, another still got started in Slovenia, then moved to Croatia before going to Finland. This may well have been because it is easier to get a starter visa in these countries, though I can't confirm with certainty. The minister who went to Lithuania first, I believe his wife actually may have had Lithuanian ancestry, and their kids spent part of the year in Vilnius and the Lithuanian countryside, so family diaspora preference laws may have been a factor.
     
  10. Ecclesiasticus

    Ecclesiasticus New Member

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    United States
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    Married
    A question I had for any others doing their ministries in Europe, what is your policy on converting Yazidis? My understanding from mentors so far, is the emphasis is heavily on converting Muslims in Europe and encouraging them to evangelize in their homelands in North Africa and Middle East, as this is our most effective resource in centuries to bring some countries of the region back into the Church. The Berber regions of North Africa especially, and Syria after the Civil War, are coming close in many regions to becoming fully Christian again! So the policy of the groups we have contact with in Europe is, focus on Muslim conversion, construct new churches for the native Europeans.

    But we have had some cases of Yazidis coming to our counterparts in Europe, and as I understand this is creating a dilemma. ISIS tried to wipe out the Yazidis in Syria and Iraq. And the Yazidis are their own unique faith and culture, they intermarry closely with each other which helps their culture to stay strong. Considering what they have gone through in Syria, part of me would be hesitant to convert them from what is their unique culture. OTOH the beauty of the Gospel is open to everyone, including Yazidis with their unique societies, and I can't say I'd simply turn away a Yazidi inquiring about the Church. What do you all think about this?
     
  11. TheNorwegian

    TheNorwegian Well-Known Member

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    I live in Norway and am a Norwegian citizen. I have been to Sweden many times and speaks decent Swedish. I also have quite a lot of experience working with missionaries coming to Europe to work in Norway, Sweden and Germany.

    Your first obstacle will be to get a visa. You will need one for stays for more than 90 days. I suggest you check a forum that specializes in obtaining visas and other immigration related question, like this one

    How hard it will be to form and/or join a missionary team depends on your skills, your theological convictions and what type of ministry you want to be involved in. It will be anything from "hard work but totally worth it" to "well-nigh impossible"

    Feel free to connect via PM as I know the church scene in Scandinavia and Germany well
     
  12. Inhocsigno

    Inhocsigno Junior Member

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    +13
    Lutheran
    Greetings Ecclesiasticus,
    This is quite an excellent question that our group has wrestled with a great deal. We are a large and still growing group of missionaries and ministers mainly from the US and Canada, Australia and New Zealand who are active in the European heartland, above all in Germany and France, Scandinavia, the Benelux, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Ireland and newly in eastern European regions including Kosovo (where we have been achieving mass conversion), Bulgaria, Bosnia, Albania and Greece. Particularly in Germany and France, we have encountered a great influx of Yazidis from Syria and Iraq since 2015, and have faced many dilemmas in deciding how to proceed.

    Our approach, which is more or less in favor with most of the American, Canadian and Australian-based missionary groups in Europe, has been largely to keep our focus elsewhere, but to cautiously and honestly welcome Yazidis into the church if they honestly wish to join. As you have observed accurately, our two main focus in Europe are 1. refurbishing old European churches and building new ones, and reviving the Christian society in the heart of Europe and 2. converting Muslim immigrants in Europe and their families-- by which we mean full conversion, with the families fully adopting Christian European names, languages and belief systems-- and encouraging them to evangelize in their ancestral nations in North Africa and the Middle East, to extent they can safely do so. During the refugee influx in 2015, we were heavily involved in conversions, and we did help to deport Muslims who refused to convert (or Africans who were clearly economic migrants looking for welfare), as they had abused the refugee protection system meant for Christians and Yazidis, passed through safe countries like Turkey and clearly would not have fit within European society.

    In major part, simply because we were so busy with our primary duties of reviving local Christian culture and converting Muslims, we simply gave little thought to ministering to the Yazidi people. Still today, it is both official and unofficial policy in our decentralized groups to avoid direct evangelism of the Yazidis. Again this is largely a result of priorities, but also the Bible instructs us to minister with great care, patience and wisdom to our flocks. The Yazidis in Europe had escaped the murderous attacks of ISIS before its defeat, and had been attacked specifically because of their unique culture. We therefore tread carefully and do not organize direct attempts to evangelize the Yazidi.

    If Yazidis come to use with an interest in the church? Of course we will take them in, and inform them of the great brotherhood and sisterhood in the churches that surround them. But even here we tread carefully. We ask them, honestly, about traumatic experiences in the Middle East, and of how close they feel to their ancient unique culture, and preserving it. We want to see if they are truly ready to make such a massive transition, from a unique culture and community that, in all honesty, would be difficult for them to maintain if they joined us, much as we would welcome them with open arms. If they are sincere in their interest, however, then we will continue to reach out to them, and of take them in as brothers and sisters if they ultimately decide to join.
     
  13. Ecclesiasticus

    Ecclesiasticus New Member

    9
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    United States
    Charismatic
    Married
    Thank you Norwegian for your kind and informative comments. My wife and I are now ourselves interested in missions likely in northern Europe, particularly in Sweden and Germany. I actually do have some ancestry there, a Swedish great-grandfather on my mother's side, while my wife is about a quarter German when we trace our roots. Though I think we'll be looking for visas through a different route. I already knew of some of the techniques, things I was mentioning to Robcat, though now that we ourselves are looking at it directly, we're trying to get more concrete ideas. We're looking mostly at the visa issues at outset since one of our ex-pastors who'd been in Sweden (Goteborg I think, up 'til 2016, now settled in Germany) is already giving us assistance on joining an active ministry, not taking that for granted either though.

    If we wanted to go direct to our countries of interest, Sweden or Germany, do most Americans go the work visa route? I do have STEM training in computer systems management, while my wife right now works in graphic design (which is also increasingly a software based field). Would I need to find a sponsor in Sweden, or could I and or my wife apply for the visa first as a freelancer? (We do a lot of online business and could easily carry this to Sweden or Germany). I have also heard that Sweden and Germany are interested in Americans who want to start families there, to help keep up their population and avoid labor shortages, and we are absolutely planning for this-- we want to have four children, and we'll raise them as Swedish or German, wherever we move to. Is this something we can express on the visa application? Would it be easier to get a student visa to take some classes in Sweden or Germany, then use that as spring-board to find work in the country? There's always more to learn in my field and get better, I'd be doing this in the US anyway, same for my wife, so taking courses or doing a Master's in Sweden or Germany would be very appealing, and we would absolutely pledge to stay on and settle to contribute to our new countries, as we wish to do our ministries there anyway.

    With languages, I do speak some German which I learned at a community college, and I started learning Swedish. It's Germanic so it's been a lot easier to pick up already knowing some German, the words are very similar with each other and with English. My wife has just started learning-- she speaks French pretty well (so we could commute to a job in France too if ex. we were doing ministry in Germany), do we need to take a language test as part of the visa? We both learn languages fast and are motivated to learn even faster now! One other thing we are curious about here, actually, are there language courses with a focus on Bible lessons and Sunday school teaching? I have heard of these in the US though haven't found anything specific. As our German and Swedish get better, I absolutely want to be able to transition into teaching Bible lessons to kids in the native tongue, as close as possible to native speakers!

    Finally a cousin of mine from Mississippi, also interested in European ministry, has been thinking of following in our footsteps. He never went to college but is a highly skilled tradesman in both welding and carpentry, which I've heard is very highly valued in Germany and Sweden. Would he have a separate work visa application system from for ex. my wife and me with a more digital software background? We're hoping to iron out these first practical and logistical steps early on, so that we can worry less about visas and work issues and focus more on the ministry. Goteborg would be great from what our pastor friend described of it, though we'd be open to almost anywhere in Sweden or Germany to minister, wherever we'd be needed.
     
  14. WisWanda

    WisWanda New Member

    2
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    Sweden
    Lutheran
    Married
    Hello and blessings Ecclesiasticus,
    I can't answer all of your questions but I hope I can provide you with insight on some of them, as we have made exactly that move. We are part of a church network focused in the Great Lakes and Upper Midwest region, centered in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and Canadian provinces (Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario) as well as two Australian provinces (Western Australia and South Australia), with thousands of us who've made the move over the years to settle and do ministry in northern Europe. It's true that the ancestral ties of our parishioners have helped in the move -- there's a big percentage of Scandinavia, German and French ancestry from these states and Canadian provinces, which has no doubt made it easier to get visas and settle in our destinations. Even though Sweden, Belgium and most of the other countries don't necessarily have official policies for automatic citizenship for their diaspora in North America and Australia, it undoubtedly does help.

    Still, that's not the case for most of us-- it's generally just scattered northern European or eastern European heritage, yet we've still found ways to get the needed visas and settle, start our families and ministries in Sweden and rest of the region. Your hunch is correct that intention to start a family absolute helps to get permission to settle there, particularly if you have ancestry in those countries. After we'd gotten our initial permits and planned to get permanent visas for work and residence in Lund, we made clear in our interviews that we intended to start a family with three children. It was likely crucial for us to get the permit, since at that time we really didn't speak much Swedish, though we have since made more of an effort to learn. As far as jobs and work permits, there's a nice side benefit to the fact that we're doing ministry in our adopted lands. That is, the very act of building churches counts as skilled labor!

    My husband I are not skilled IT professionals or workers with that sort of technical training. We both work in the skilled trades just as you brought up, my husband in bricklaying in masonry, me as a seamstress. Many of our parishioners in the European ministries are simply factory workers, copy editors, or service workers. But we've found a way to leverage our skills in a way that Sweden, France, Germany and the other countries find desirable, in part due to our dedication to the ministries and the skills that requires, which has helped us to gain work and residence permits there. It no doubt helps if you have technical skills, a STEM background, programming abilities, a medical or legal or other professional careers, but most of us do not. Yet we've had no trouble settling in Europe. Focus on your ministries and skills, work on efforts to convert the Syrian, Iraqi, Turkish, Kurdish and North African refugees (which are highly prized) and emphasize your intentions to start a family, and you'll have no trouble moving here. There are also enormous colonies of Americans, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders and South Africans settled in these countries, and these networks can also be of help.
     
  15. Inhocsigno

    Inhocsigno Junior Member

    89
    +13
    Lutheran
    Greetings Wiswanda,
    Thank you for your detailed posting here and particularly your emphasis on the flexibility of options to obtain a work permit and settlement visa in Europe. As with your group, most of the Americans, Canadians, Australians and Brazilians in ours who have settled down to minister in Europe, are also humble workers in basic needed professions just as they are humble servants of the Lord. Although we do have a number of highly skilled professionals in fields like computer programming, engineering and STEM areas, most of our flock are, as you say, basic craftsmen or line workers in manufacturing or service industries. Yet we have had no trouble getting visas to settle and raise our families in Europe.

    Yes it is true that virtually all of us have European ancestry, but this is simply because Europe unlike America is an ancestral land, not a traditional land of immigrants, so it us natural for Europe to reserve its visas for those who have ancestry there. (Though as you have said it is not a "strictly national ancestry" restriction--Italy, France, Germany, Sweden, Belgium, Netherlands all allow visas for Americans of varied European ancestry, not just from those countries themselves, though obviously it can help to get a German work and residence visa if you have some German ancestry you can talk about with the embassy.) However the work permits are quite flexible if one shows dedication to the new country and an ability learn new skills and the language after moving there. Too many potential ministers in Europe do themselves a disservice by fearing that they need to be super skilled professionals in science or engineering to move to Europe. This is just not true. These countries need all kinds of workers to keep their own populations and economies strong. And as you say, skills in building churches also count as the skills they like to see!
     
  16. Ecclesiasticus

    Ecclesiasticus New Member

    9
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    United States
    Charismatic
    Married
    Just wanted to wish a Happy Thanksgiving to all you American ministers who've taken on the great mission and are now bringing the Gospel back to Europe and raising your families there, from another American missionary who will be joining you there and planting new roots for good! I'm not sure which American holidays the ministers in Europe celebrate, alongside of course Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, Palm Sunday and the others so central to the Gospels. But I imagine a bit of 4th of July still stays with us, and Thanksgiving is certainly one I still hope to celebrate! One of the best holidays to celebrate friends and family, pray together and celebrate the love of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost for His flock.
     
  17. Ecclesiasticus

    Ecclesiasticus New Member

    9
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    United States
    Charismatic
    Married
    And a lovely, wonderful, merry Christmas to you all. For those of you who've already left America to start your missions in Europe, take heart that all of us here on the other side of Atlantic honor and praise your efforts, and are holding you and your families in our hearts as we prepare to join you there!
     
  18. Inhocsigno

    Inhocsigno Junior Member

    89
    +13
    Lutheran
    Greetings Ecclesiasticus,
    I can confirm that Thanksgiving has indeed caught on in many parts of Europe despite it's origin with the native Americans in America. It has come to represent exactly what it's name is associated with, giving thanks to family and friends and for God's grace. Interesting on that point, I have found the Thanksgiving holiday in Europe in some ways to have an even more explicitly Christian connotation than the equivalent in America, perhaps because it is less connected to specific events in a colony but more openly linked to Christmas and Advent celebrations.
     
  19. Inhocsigno

    Inhocsigno Junior Member

    89
    +13
    Lutheran
    Put this up in another thread but thought it would be good idea to put here too as reference on one of our most important missions with the European ministries- creating a vast flock of new ministers with Mideastern origins who are able to do what we (Americans and Westerners in generals) can't do directly-- go into the Middle East and preach to their brethren there, protect the persecuted churches and win converts to bring the Gospel back to the region. Practical speaking, one of the best routes to help persecuted churches is to do ministries in Europe that focus on converting the Syrian, Iranian, Turkish, Kurdish and north African populations to the church. Which has been incredibly effective at bringing assistance to persecuted churches in the Middle East.

    It's difficult for us in the West to provide direct help to the persecuted churches due to cultural differences and suspicion of Westerners in the countries. But it's different matter for immigrants from those countries who return home as they know the language and culture, have family ties and can directly establish and protect churches there. This has turned out to be our best resource for protecting persecuted churches and bringing our faith back to the Middle East, even to dominance in some places. It's why my church back in the US has shifted its focus almost entirely to bringing ministers to Europe (especially if we have European background which makes it easier to secure a visa and involve ourselves with the local churches), it's a once in a generation chance to bring the Gospel back to the Middle East and protect the persecuted Christians and churches there. By converting the Syrian, Iraqi and Turkish refugees and migrants--which we can do directly in Europe and not in the Middle East-- we are then indirectly able to build a vast army of new ministers who themselves can directly go to the Middle Eastern regions, protecting our brethren churches there and winning new converts in the Middle East itself. This of course can only be done in Europe, so it's something to consider for anyone who wants to protect the churches and our brothers and sisters in the Middle East.
     
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