Saturday, November 30, 2019

Church is open!

Over the next several blog posts, let’s visit some Danish churches, get to know the people there, and pray for them.

First stop: Åbenkirke (OpenChurch), a lively, growing family church with branches in both Herning and Copenhagen, as well as a sister church in Zambia.

While the worship services at Åbenkirke might remind you of a similar evangelical church in the US, this church isn’t quite typical for Denmark. Services are led by a band up front, and the worship is thoroughly contemporary.

There’s also a strong emphasis on outreach here. Stop by their website this month, and you’ll see links to recent sermons, an invitation to a singles Christmas feast, a signup page for an Alpha (seeker’s) course, and more about joining a small group. There’s something for everyone, with ministries for children, young people, and adults. The church runs a café, and employs six pastors—also unusual for Danish churches. And since this fellowship was planted in 2007, there’s been an emphasis on building a welcoming atmosphere for all.

“Who says church has to be sad and boring,” says their Facebook page, “with no room for smiles and dancing?”

There’s plenty of both at Åbenkirke. Watch this short video, with English subtitles, called “Se Min Kirke” (“See My Church”):

And then let’s:

PRAY that many unchurched would come to faith in Christ this holiday season through the outreach of Åbenkirke.

PRAY for renewal among those who regularly attend, that they would come to know Jesus better.

PRAY for the pastoral staff: Lars Bo Olesen (lead pastor), Niels-Peter Hedegaard, Allan Høyer, Andreas Jørgensen, Esben Dulwich Engholm, and Jens Erik Asmussen. Ask God to given them wisdom and a heart for ministry, and to keep them safe.

PRAY for revival in the cities of Herning and Copenhagen, and that God would continue to use the believers in Åbenkirke in new and exciting ways.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

I'd rather have Jesus

The Internationalt Kristent Center opened its doors in Copenhagen thirty years ago this month. Since then, thousands of new Danes and immigrants have visited, finding hope and encouragement in Jesus… and (in typical Danish fashion) a cup of coffee and a pastry.

The biggest draw at the center is their free Danish language classes, offered for women as well as for mixed groups. Visitors can also take advantage of English classes, “Sprogcafeen” (Language Café, where volunteers offer to help visitors practice their language skills), regular Bible studies, counseling, cross-cultural summer camps, meals, badminton, and the occasional fun celebration.

In all this, workers and volunteers at the Center share the love of Jesus, and they make sure all their visitors feel welcome.

Majken Rokni, a cross-cultural worker at the center, told the story of one visitor: “A woman said that she had received a Bible from us, and now she wanted to read it. ‘Because your God talks about love,’ said the visitor, ‘and Islam’s god does not. I would rather have Jesus.’”

PRAY for the ongoing ministry at IKC, that immigrants and others would find hope (and Jesus) there.

PRAY for the volunteers and workers, for encouragement and the opportunity to share their faith.

PRAY that God would continue to change more and more lives at the IKC.

PRAY that revival would begin in this center, and that God would awaken his people at the IKC.

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Life after summer camp?

Family camping is a long and cherished tradition in Denmark. Each year, thousands of Danes flock to campgrounds, set up their tents in neat rows, and enjoy the long days of sunshine. And Christians are no exception; this summer they’re meeting together as never before in denominational and interdenominational camps.

Under the big tent at Skovgårde Biblecamping
Attendance at the yearly Inner Mission camp at Mørkholt Beach, for example, is way up. Four years ago, 550 young people showed up. This summer more than 800 campers got together for a full week of games, fellowship, and nightly Bible messages in the large central tent.

And this year the camp was featured on a national TV news program. (Click on the link to watch the first few minutes. Even if you don’t speak Danish, you’ll get the idea.)

 “We’re gathered around our faith,” explained Nikolai Møller, a staffer with the Inner Mission renewal movement. “That’s what’s happening in this tent, every evening.”

“This is a huge tent,” observed TV reporter Dorte Callesen during an on-camera interview for TV Syd (South). “You’ve set up (more) chairs, and people are sitting outside. Why have so many shown up?”

“It’s because we have a fellowship here, where we can be who we are,” explained Møller. “Where we can talk about big and small things, about faith, and life. We can talk about soccer and the weather, too… But there’s a fellowship, and people come back for that, again and again. We learn more about God, what we can take home to our everyday lives.”

Møller emphasized the goal of challenging campers to take away what they’ve learned at the summer camp, and to integrate it into their Christian walk during the rest of the year.  And why is the yearly camp growing?

Møller feels it’s their approach, the rich fellowship, and “holding tightly to God’s Word.”

PRAISE God for the growing attendance at Christian summer camps in Denmark.

PRAY for young campers, that God will use the lessons they heard and the relationships they built to change lives throughout the year.

PRAY for boldness, that campers will share about their Lord when they get home.

PRAY that the camps will continue to grow in attendance, and that more people will be saved as a result.

PRAY for wisdom for the camp leadership, that they will follow the Holy Spirit’s leading as they plan programs and follow-up.

PRAY for revival to come in these camps, throughout the summer and beyond. 

Sunday, June 23, 2019

In Randers, 1+1=1

Most Danish churches are small, typically with 100 worshippers or less. But now two free churches in Randers, Denmark’s sixth largest city, have joined forces to form a church with some 400 members -- plus many children. The possibilities for an even larger witness and more opportunities to serve the community have everyone excited.

“Here in the Pentecostal Church,” said Pastor Rune von Weydenberg Kærlet, “we’re very glad that on June 4 an overwhelming majority voted to become a part of the Free Church.”

The move brings together two established fellowships: the Evangelical Free Church in Randers was established in 1888, while the Pentecostals have been in that city since 1926. As they’ve grown, the Free Church has met in a variety of smaller venues, from a hotel to a fitness center and a former car dealership. Now the challenge will be to find a place where everyone can worship together.

Pastor Kent (left) and Pastor Rune
“We’re moving ahead quickly to find a facility that can handle 400 members, and many more” said Kent Jacobsen, who has served as pastor of the Free Church, and who will now lead the combined fellowship. “But we don’t know yet if it will mean rebuilding, building from scratch, or finding a new building.”

The new location will also need to accommodate a wide spectrum of mid-week and community outreach activities, including children’s church, youth outreach, a café for seniors, a language center for immigrants, and much more.

Jacobsen said the move will position them for even more exciting ministry together than they could have accomplished alone.

“We believe that God loves everyone,” he said, “and that we’re placed in this world to share his love. So we’re taking responsibility for our city, that our church will be an open and comprehensive resource for everyone in Randers.

“We’re not a church that’s placed in this world to serve our own 400 members. Our 400 members are a resource for and in Randers.”

GIVE THANKS for the vision and excitement in this combined new, outward-focused church.

PRAY that they will find (or build) just the right facility where they can worship, serve, and grow.

PRAY for the ongoing ministries, especially to young people and immigrants, that God would draw many people to himself.

PRAY for wisdom and unity, that leaders from both of the former churches would learn to serve together in love. Pray especially for Pastor Kent and Pastor Rune.

PRAY for unity among the new congregation, that they would also grow together in love. As Jesus prayed (John 17:21), that they would be one.

PRAY for the people of Randers, that many would see the love of Christ in this new church, and be drawn to the Lord as a result. Pray for even more growth among the unchurched.

PRAY for spiritual awakening in Randers, and that God would use this exciting new church in many new ways.

Sunday, May 05, 2019

3 said yes

Tradition still means something in Denmark. So when three young teens announced together that they wanted to get baptized, people noticed.

After all, in their church, most children are sprinkled as babies. Like church attendance on Christmas and Easter, for some families it’s simply part of the culture, and has been for generations. But for whatever reason, the parents of Andrea, Tinke, and Nicoline had not arranged for their children to be baptized as infants.

Even so, the girls all agreed that was okay.

“I’m glad that I could decide this for myself,” said Nicoline Dabbagh, 14. “Because if I’d wanted to, I could have said no.”

Her friend Andrea Hansen also wasn’t disappointed at the way things turned out.

“I think it’s fine that I got to choose, myself,” she said. “Because if I didn’t believe, I would not have chosen to be baptized.”

So the three were baptized at Ansgars Church in Odense last February, part of a growing trend toward later baptism in the state Lutheran church. Until recently, this kind of thing was unheard of. In 2018, however, a record number of Danish teens — more than 3,000 — said yes to baptism. That’s an 18 percent rise over the same time five years ago.

Is something starting to happen among Denmark’s 10- to 19-year-olds? Let’s keep watching.

PRAY for young Danes like Andrea, Tinke, and Nicoline — that they would come to know the Savior they’ve confessed in baptism, and that they would grow in their new faith.

PRAY that more and more young people would respond to the gospel, in and out of the state Lutheran church.

PRAY for revival among Danish teens, that the Holy Spirit would move in Lutheran churches, free churches, camps, and neighborhoods.

PRAY for spiritual awakening among Danish teens this summer, and that many would be saved!