From Monday 24 to Friday 28 of April I, along with Robert and Nicky, had the privilege of attending a conference near Athens convened by Martyn Dunsford (pictured right). For those who don’t know, Martyn is one of the main leaders of Catalyst, the group within Newfrontiers that we are a part of, and he is involved in serving leaders in around twenty-five nations in Europe. It is through Martyn that we have come to be connected with Georgi in Bulgaria.
Around 330 delegates gathered for this time with leaders from right across the continent. We had excellent times of worship together and superb preaching. Mark Marx shared more incredible stories of healing from the streets of Colerain in Northern Ireland. We heard the story of the Christian community in Greenland, which is a landmass the size of Europe but with a population of only around 56,000, the capital comprising a mere 6000 people. In Greenland there are a couple of churches in the hundreds but many with just a handful of believers.
We also heard from a Chinese pastor who oversees a group of churches made up of several millions! He told us that in China 10,000 people come to faith in Jesus every day which amounts to 3.65 million a year! A pastor from Turkey shared how they see a handful of people coming to faith in one year as success and was helpfully expressing how the spiritual climate can vary in different places. Of course people have prayed for China for years and it is often the combination of prayer, persecution and poverty that seems to lead to the Church seeing explosive growth. Those three ‘P’s are not things we necessarily relish signing up for!
We had a time of praying for Europe as we recognise that of all the continents we are the most secular and spiritually dead. Of course God is very much at work in Europe but we see huge cities like Berlin where most people claim to be the atheists and which has been a graveyard for evangelical churches for years. We remember that this year marks the 500th anniversary of Luther’s stand for Biblical truth such as justification by faith, in other words recognising that we are not saved by our works of penance but by believing that Jesus’ death is alone sufficient to reconcile us to God. Europe has a great Christian heritage but needs a fresh outpouring of the Spirit of God. Let’s call on God!