Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Kristuskirken and First International Baptist Church

On my recent trip to Denmark, I had the privilege of attending two Sunday services at Copenhagen's growing First International Baptist Church where N. Erik Nielsen is the pastor. FIBC shares the facilities of Kristuskirken (Christ Church), the Danish language church whose pastor is Michael Jensen. I was able to attend one of Kristuskirken's Danish services as well and I was reminded of my first visit to the church in 1952. Vision and zeal for missions and evangelism have long characterized Kristuskirken that currently hosts five different language groups within its facilities including, besides Danish, services in English, Romanian, Yugoslavian, and Spanish.

English services were established at Kristuskirken over 20 years ago under the leadership of Pastor Ove Vang Jensen. In 2001, the English-speaking service became an independent and autonomous congregation taking the name First International Baptist Church of Copenhagen. FIBC continues to maintain close ties with Kristuskirken and uses its facilities for worship and fellowship activities. Erik Nielsen, a graduate of George Washington University and of Biola University's Talbot School of Theology, has served as pastor of FIBC since 2002, coming from a similar ministry in Jakarta, Indonesia. He was ordained to the gospel ministry at Whittier Hills Baptist Church, Whittier, California. He is a gifted musician who is having to function currently as both keyboardist and preacher. FIBC is a member of the Danish Baptist Union (Baptistkirken i Danmark) and of the International Baptist Convention.

FIBC gathers English-speaking Danes and expatriates from many countries who are working in businesses or are studying at Danish educational institutions in the Copenhagen metropolitan area. The congregation has a truly international flavor with English serving as the unifying language. When I visited the Sunday afternoon services at FIBC, there were regular attenders and visitors from many different countries. Internationals, many of whom are the product of extensive missionary work in their home countries, are making a tremendous contribution to Danish church life and in turn their experience in Denmark is helping them be better prepared as leaders upon return to their home lands.

Kristuskirken (Copenhagen's First Baptist Church) is Denmark's oldest free church (churches not part of the Folkekirke, the country's national church) and faces some of the same problems of older mainline churches elsewhere in the world. Its influence throughout Scandinavia is well-recognized and honored. To grow, older churches always need new vision and purpose and flexibility in meeting the challenges of cultural change. Especially needed is an influx of younger, committed believers who have the potential to move into the future with strong emphases on Spirit-directed evangelism and purposeful ministries. An older church cannot thrive and move forward with power merely on its past history but must press on vigorously to meet the challenges of proclaiming the unchanging gospel of Jesus Christ in a changing world and culture.

PRAISE God for the more than a century and a half of Kristuskirken's history of unsverving loyalty to the gospel of Christ and for its unquestioned influence on all the free churches in Denmark.

PRAISE God for the vision of Pastor Emeritus Ove Vang Jensen and the congregation of Kristuskirken in establishing English-speaking work that has led to the formation of the independent and autonomous First International Baptist Church of Copenhagen.

PRAY for a strong evangelistic outreach by strategically placed FIBC and for the discovery of effective means of making its message and ministry known to English-speaking internationals in the Copenhagen metropolitan area.

PRAY that the Lord will bring to FIBC a much-needed keyboardist to relieve the pastor of his current dual roles of musician and preacher.

PRAY that FIBC's congregation will continue to grow numerically but also in knowledge and obedience to the Word of God, commitment to evangelism, and the training of leaders.

PRAY that the Lord will bless and encourage the ministry of Pastor Michael Jensen and give the congregation and leadership of Kristuskirken's Danish congregation a breakthrough in a vision for new avenues of evangelism and ministry.

PRAY for the development and growth of the Yugoslavian, Romanian, and Spanish-language ministries at Kristuskirken and wisdom on the part of those responsible for leading them.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I visited this church many years ago when I was on a business trip to Denmark. I live in the US. I remember speaking with several members who told me that their greatest ministry was in the state run nursing homes where they led many to Christ. Now that the US has decided the govenment should run health care, I think this will be our greatest ministry especially since the schools bar any Christan influence. You are in my prayers. God bless you in these latter days!