Sunday, April 24, 2016

No longer underground

While Danes struggle with the complex political impact of the recent immigration crisis, another unexpected trend affects them in an entirely different way:

Hundreds of asylum seekers in this tiny country are coming to faith in Jesus Christ.

photo: Olafur Steinar Gestsson
According to a recent report in Berlingske, the Danish news service, 300 recent immigrants are being baptized into Danish state-affiliated and free churches. Most (250) are from Iran -- a place where it’s (very) illegal to convert from Islam. In addition, at least 100 more Iranians have been baptized in the past three months.

Of course it’s impossible to understand everyone’s motives. Some may believe baptism will improve their chances of being accepted as asylum-seekers. But the just-released numbers are significant, and there’s reason to believe the number of questionable conversions is low. 

In Copenhagen’s Apostelkirken (Apostle Church), for example, a dozen asylum seekers were baptized this past Easter. Pastor Niels Nymann Eriksen estimates they’re among 100 such converts in the past five to seven years, in his church alone.

“We’re very careful to explain to them that simply converting in itself won’t give them permission to stay,” says Pastor Eriksen. “If they’re sent home, as converts they then have another problem, in addition to the problems they fled.”

So these recent converts from Islam know they would be in even greater danger if they were forced to return. Meanwhile, they’re finding a new Danish home in churches like Apostelkirken, where services are translated into English and now Farsi, the language of Iran. 

PRAY for these new brothers and sisters in Christ, that they will find a place in the family of God and new peace in their lives. 

PRAY for any who might claim conversion in hopes of improving their case, that the reality of the gospel will shine through in their desperation and need. 

PRAY for Danish Christians facing the challenge of dealing with this latest influx of immigrants, that God would give them both wisdom and open hearts.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The little church that would not die

Rumors of this church’s demise may have been exaggerated -- though not by much. Only five years ago, many people thought this small church in Brønderslev (northern Denmark) would soon close its doors.

And who could blame them? The fellowship had been meeting since 1942, and had once included over 70 worshippers, with a thriving youth program. Now they were down to just 10 discouraged faithful.  But then they rediscovered the church’s theme verse, which had largely been forgotten.

The verse? Job 8:7 -- “And though your beginning was small, your latter days will be very great.”

Since then, God has proven the truth of His word in many other ways through this little church, though not perhaps in ways they could have expected.  As more people were drawn to the Bible-preaching fellowship, they began to meet twice, then three times a month.  Today between 50 and 70 worship every week. But the congregation looks and sounds very different than before.

“Today there’s an entirely different kind of life,” explains Morten Jensen, one of the church’s leaders. “The fellowship consists of many nationalities, including from Uganda, the Congo, Kenya, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kurdistan, and many more.”

Danish or English-language preaching is translated into Swahili, Persian, Kurdish, or whatever other language is needed. Praise and worship takes place with a new, wonderful blend of cultures and personalities.

So yes, rumors of this church’s death were premature. Who would have thought?

PRAY the God would bring many people of many backgrounds to salvation through this Brønderslev fellowship -- and other Danish churches.

PRAY that Christ-centered renewal would take place in smaller churches like this, and across every city of Denmark.

PRAY that this little country would be known for its God-honoring, truth-seeking, blended (and growing!) churches.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

On the air... again!

For years, Danes have been used to limited television choices, mainly from state-run stations. But there’s also another choice -- a Christian-run station with news on the Danish church, preaching, music, interviews, children’s shows, worship services, and more.

While American TV viewers might take Christian programming for granted, it’s quite another story in a small country like Denmark, where state-run media has always been the norm.

“KKR TV was the first Danish TV station that broke DR’s (state TV) monopoly,” says the station’s website.

Then, of course, everything went digital. And unfortunately the station remained off the air for several years -- until technology caught up. Today Copenhagen residents can easily view KKR-TV, while others throughout the country can install a digital receiver box for home viewing. Live programming is also available online. 

“I’ve been longing for it for many years,” said an older viewer from Kalslund. For people like her, for shut-ins, and for many others, KKR is a new lifeline to teaching and testimony about living a life of faith.

PRAY for the staff of KKR/TV, that they would remain faithful to Christ and to their calling of presenting the gospel in a culturally relevant way.

PRAY that children would be drawn to the programing and come to know Jesus as a result.

PRAY that the ministry of KKR TV would reach many homes where Christ not known.

PRAY that God would use this television to help bring revival to Denmark!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Revival in Djursland?

Most Americans won’t know where Djursland is, but a dedicated group of Danes are gathering to blanket this region in prayer. What’s going on?

One of Djursland's quaint historic  towns.

This past month a group of over 30 concerned believers met to pray and to hear what God has been doing here over the past several months. The prayer initiative, sponsored by the Indre Mission renewal movement, is called “God wants to do more… in Djursland.”

Djursland, a hilly Danish peninsula facing Sweden at the entrance to the Baltic Sea, is a popular tourist destination for Danes and other Europeans. And apparently God is now stirring up Christians in this region to reach out and to pray in new ways.

One of the participants told the group about setting up an informal coffee stand to serve neighbors and tourists, opening up new opportunities to meet and pray. Another explained how to use the local phone book as a prayer list. Still another told of plans to start a Bible study for newly arrived refugees from the troubled Middle East. And that was just a start.

“We want to follow up on these initiatives and keep the prayer flames burning,” said Egild Kildeholm Jensen, organizer of the event. Pray for them!

PRAY that believers will be stirred up in new ways to reach out in the name of Jesus.

PRAY that visitors and others would notice a wonderful difference in this beautiful area of the country, and that they would be drawn to the Gospel here as never before.

PRAY for a new sense of unity across churches in Djursland, as believers come together to pray more and more.

PRAY for the “God wants to do more!” movement in Djursland, that revival flames would spread from this place.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Fear makes us weak

At the end of every year, Danes pause for a few minutes to hear a New Year’s message from their queen. This year’s message included Queen Margethe’s somber reflections on terrorism at home and abroad -- including the attack last February in Copenhagen’s synagogue, in which two people were killed.

Despite the challenges, she told her country, “our reaction must not become a crippling fear. Fear makes us weak.”

If that sounds familiar, think of all the biblical warnings to not be afraid. From Isaiah and Joshua to the words of Jesus himself, we’re reminded: Be not afraid.

Be not afraid, because God is doing great new things in Denmark. Worship leaders are seeing a resurgence in genuinely Danish praise music. Attendance is up at Bible colleges. New urban church plants are growing as never before. Believers are reaching out to neighbors and immigrants. Christians are bolder than ever in sharing their faith.

Despite the challenges of a world prone to violence and fear, there is good reason to be excited about what God is doing in 2016. As the queen said at the end of her talk, “Gud bevare Danmark!”

God save Denmark.

PRAY for the Holy Spirit to move in new ways through His church in Denmark, filling Danes with compassion for the lost and hurting.

PRAY for protection and wisdom for Christian leaders.

PRAY that believers would be obedient to God’s leading as they face the challenges of a culture that is far, far from God.

PRAY for new energy in the church and for genuine revival in Denmark!  

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Heartcore Business

Pray for the new national leader of Youth for Christ Denmark, Daniel Baun. Since October, he’s been in charge of the group that’s doing key outreach and discipleship among Danish teens in schools and cities around the country.

Under Baun’s leadership, they want to do even more.

“I’m standing on the shoulders of the enormous work that’s already been done in YFC Denmark,” he says. “We have a well-functioning house, a good economy and talented co-workers. We want to work to see YFC more outward-focused.”

Baun already has a high profile in Denmark as a business consultant, speaker, and author of the book Heartcore Business. His approach looks beyond the pursuit of profit to the deeper meaning of real success in the marketplace. And he’s taking this perspective to YFC.

“I like to see things happen,” he explains.

PRAY for Daniel Baun in his new role, that God would use him to spread vision, enthusiasm, and energy to reach more youth for Jesus Christ.

PRAY that Youth For Christ Denmark would remain true to its name, and that along the way its workers would grow in their own relationship to Christ.

PRAY for unity of purpose among YFC Denmark.

PRAY that more and more Danish young people would follow Jesus as a result of this vital ministry, and that revival might take hold on campuses across Denmark.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Pray for Børkop

Things are looking up at Børkop Højskole--one of several Bible colleges in Denmark. After a period of declining admissions and troublesome deficits, enrollment is back up and the school is again on solid financial footing. A popular student lounge has recently been renovated. Eager young students are studying the scriptures in 5- and ten-month programs, growing in their faith and preparing for ministry in many forms.

School leaders say there’s a new optimism and spirit in the school, with new initiatives for future growth.

That’s the good news.

The challenge is that headmaster Erik Pedersen has just announced he will be stepping down at the end of the coming school year. He started at Børkop in the spring of 2012. His last day will be July 31, 2016.

“We’re deeply thankful for Erik’s sizeable contributions,” said school administrator Per Søgaard, “and that he, along with (his wife) Margit, said ‘yes’ to this undertaking and call as headmaster during a very, very difficult period for Børkop Højskole.”

A search is already underway for a new headmaster. In the academic world, these kinds of searches typically take many months.

PRAY for the search committee, and that God will raise up just the right leader.

PRAY that the positive momentum they’ve seen over the past several years will continue and increase. Børkop is an important school for preparing Danish Christian lay leaders.

PRAY for the students at Børkop this term, that they will grow in their faith and be a part of what God is doing to bring revival in Denmark.

PRAY ALSO for the faculty and staff, and thank God for the leadership the Pedersens have provided.