Wednesday, April 23, 2008

First International Baptist Church, Copenhagen

Copenhagen’s First International Baptist Church is led by Pastor N. Erik Nielsen, a Dane born in Indonesia who received his training for the ministry primarily in the United States. The church was a relatively young church plant that has now been firmly established as a self-governing congregation. Previously, the host church (historic Kristuskirken, Denmark’s first Baptist congregation) had held English services but had not organized a separate congregation. The two churches continue to share the same facilities. Members and regular attenders of FIBC come from all over Metropolitan Copenhagen and outlying areas. Since last year, there are even families from Sweden in regular attendance at the Sunday services.

On any given Sunday, the FIBC congregation averages around 130, including children. When I attended services two years ago, I found the congregation to be truly international and the fellowship between people from many different countries warm and inviting. The pastor and his family (wife Kim and five handsome boys) are obviously greatly appreciated and Pastor Nielsen’s ministry of the Word is having a salutary effect on many lives. There is an evangelistic emphasis to the ministry and there have been several (nine in recent times) who have taken the first step of obedience in the Christian life through believers' baptism. Capable laypersons assist in various aspects of the ministry. Great emphasis is placed on small mid-week group meetings held in various parts of Copenhagen

Besides his preaching and teaching ministry, Pastor Nielsen is a well-trained musician and pianist. On the occasion of attendance at the services, I noted that he had a large responsibility for the music, making it difficult to care efficiently for other aspects of the service. He told me then that he really needed someone to assist with the music and I have prayed regularly that the Lord would fulfill that need. In the summer that same year, the Lord answered our prayers when a college student intern assisted with the worship and music. More recently a person employed by the United Nations has become the church’s worship coordinator, often leading the worship services. That freed the pastor to start a choir ministry for Christmas and Easter cantatas that ever since has become an outreach event drawing a number of people to attend the church regularly. This year again there the Christmas and Easter services were very well-attended.

As in any international church, there are challenges. Many members and regular attenders are only temporarily employed in Denmark. It is not always easy to find replacements for key leaders when they complete their employment in Denmark and must move on to other countries and assignments.

The host church, the Danish-language Kristuskirken, continues its ministry under the leadership of Pastor Ove Vang Jensen who was called out of retirement to serve while the church is without a pastor. There is a shortage of possible pastoral candidates among the Free churches in general and the Baptist churches in particular so the interim has extended beyond the church’s expectations. In addition to the Danish and English-speaking congregations, Kristuskirken is also host to Spanish-speaking services conducted by Digna Fernandez, and Roumanian services conducted by Julia Bajna.

Webpages: and Kristuskirken is located at Baggesensgade, 2200 Copenhagan N.

PRAY for the spiritual health and growth of Kristuskirken and for encouragement through interim Pastor Ove Vang Jensen’s faithful ministry. Pastor Jensen is a former pastor of the church.

PRAY that the Lord will speedily raise up a Danish-speaking pastoral candidate for Kristuskirken to succeed interim Pastor Jensen who was called out of retirement to take up leadership of this important church of the Danish Baptist Union. The interim has now extended to 18 months and the need is most urgent for the calling of a new pastor. Our prayer support is crucial and much appreciated.

PRAISE God for the fruitful outreach events that have come about under Pastor N. Erik Nielsen’s ministry with Copenhagen’s First International Baptist Church and especially for the believers baptisms in recent months.

PRAY, as key leaders and volunteers at FIBC must leave Denmark for other places and assignments, that God will raise up replacements who possess needed spiritual gifting for the health and growth of the church body..

PRAY that FIBC and Kristuskirken’s Danish, Spanish and Roumanian ministries will flourish with renewed emphasis on evangelism and revival.

PRAY for a number of Free churches and Baptist churches in Denmark that are currently without pastors. The available pool of candidates is extremely limited and the need is critical.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Prayer Emphases at Mariager Højskole

Pray for has a new and valued friend. In the past several months I have had contact with Jakob Vagner who is a teacher of Bible and theology at Mariager Højskole (Danish Pentecostal Bible School). Jakob asked if we could give some information about prayer emphases at Mariager Højskole. This is of interest to me because we are more and more realizing the need to publicize the prayer efforts of Danish believers, churches and Christian organizations.

This webpage hopefully raises prayer support from outside Denmark, but we are thrilled always to know that there are many believers, churches and organizations within Denmark itself that gather together regularly to pray. We want by all means to encourage such efforts. There is nothing more important to the evangelization and spiritual life of a nation than the fervent prayers of God’s own people. Spiritual revivals are always bathed in prayer.

Students at Mariager Højskole are encouraged in many ways to be prayer warriors. Students, faculty and staff set aside a full week of prayer twice every year. Jakob writes: “This year we will have one week of prayer for Denmark in the summer–and then one week of more quiet prayer retreat in October. In August ( in typical Danish dating, week 32), we will be around 40 adults and young people focusing on intercession for Denmark, for revival in our personal lives and throughout the nation. We have three gatherings each day with a bit of Bible teaching and then we pray for each other and for our country. In October’s week of prayer, it will be about 30 people getting together for Bible meditations, quiet prayer, symbolic acts, and so on, in which the emphasis is more personal. In both settings we work in small groups as well as with the group as a whole praying together. . .When we get together for the weeks of prayer we pray for many different things, but more than anything else we pray for Danes to be saved and for churches to grow.”

Students at Mariager Højskole meet each school day for morning worship. Then, on Tuesday evenings throughout the school year there is a ministry service where great emphasis is placed on leaders praying with students concerning important problems and decisions about their ongoing spiritual life and walk with Christ. I attended one such Tuesday evening meeting while in Mariager two years ago and was greatly impressed with the intensity of praise and worship and dynamic teaching during the service, and of an unhurried and sometimes quite emotional after-meeting with faculty and staff counseling and praying with individual students. As in all Bible training institutions, I suspect too that at Mariager Højskole there are groups of committed students who gather together for informal prayer times.

In a later posting, I intend to give more specific information about Mariager Højskole as well as other Bible and theological training facilities and programs in Denmark.

PRAY that faculty, staff and students at Mariager Højskole will be encouraged to engage in sustained prayer and intercession on behalf of secularist Denmark and the hundreds of thousands of Danes who do not know what it is to have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

PRAY for Jakob Vagner, for an effective ministry of teaching at Mariager Højskole, for his and other faculty members’ influence on students’ spiritual life and walk, and for the salvation of Jakob’s unsaved sister.

PRAY that what students learn and experience of intercessory prayer during their time at Mariager Højskole will be transformed into an ongoing and vibrant prayer life in their future ministries, wherever the Lord may lead them.