Monday, September 29, 2008

Church Planting in Denmark

Church planting in Denmark is a tough assignment in view of the entrenched and deepening secularism that eats the heart out of a nation’s sensitivity to the things of the spirit. Though I have mentioned them before, and not too long ago, I have been impressed by the work of church planters David and Solvej Allen in Roskilde (shown here on their 25th wedding anniversary). These two have been slogging it out for Christ for several years planting a new Vineyard church. As Solvej has written: “It is hard being ‘free church’ in a bogged down state church-focused and increasingly secularized country like Denmark.” There have been obstacles and discouragements along the way, but joys ands victories as well. It is especially difficult because the fledgling congregation cannot as yet remunerate a full-time ministry. So, both David and Solvej have had to take outside employment to make ends meet for themselves and their family. Because David’s employment has required a greater number of hours in the week, Solvej has had to take up the slack in helping shepherd the little flock that God is calling out of the world into His fellowship. David and Solvej deserve great honor and support for their determination to follow the will of God and to live like they have had to live for several years. A church planter sows the seed, but it is God who gives the increase. Truly, God has been at work in Roskilde and He has been using David and Solvej in a remarkable way.

The new church plant requires extensive pastoral ministry as many have come into the fellowship having tremendous needs and some even quite serious problems. It is no easy thing these days for people to come out of the world and to come clean for Jesus Christ. By loving them with unconditional love and making themselves available to them even at inconvenient times is a drain on this church planting couple’s spiritual and physical energies. Exponential growth has been seen in some of the “new broken people” but less visible growth in others.

One of the major tasks of a church planter is to help members of a congregation know their spiritual gifts and to challenge them to utilize them for the growth and progress of the whole body. A new church plant is no place for spectator believers. Spiritual advance becomes possible as everyone pitches in with prayerful and selfless exercise of his or her spiritual gifts.

Prayer support is essential in any church planting endeavor and this Roskilde church planting couple are appreciative of those in Denmark and elsewhere who continually hold them and the new congregation before the Lord in intercessory prayer. We urge Pray for readers to join with the intercessors. The prayers of many will assure David and Solvej that they are not going at it alone in Roskilde. .Here are some items to take before the Lord:

PRAY for health and strength for David and Solvej, for deliverance from discouragement, and for employment requiring fewer hours of David’s time. It is frustrating to have a gift for evangelism and not enough time to exercise the gift. Nothing would please this couple more than for David to be freed for full-time ministry.

PRAY that the new congregation will seize opportunities for open air evangelism. A recent experience with other churches in the town square indicated that townspeople will stop and listen. Sometimes older, tried-and-true evangelism methods still work in a sophisticated society.

PRAY for the “new broken people” who have come under David and Solvej’s care with various addictions, marital breakups, New Age involvements, unbelieving spouses, physical challenges, excursions into the demonic, suicide, depression, and the like. Solvej writes: “Working with broken people can get quite messy, but we trust that where the enemy has come in like a flood the Lord will raise up a standard of righteousness.”

PRAY that the good, spiritually strong couples in the church that until recently had not been involved in anything of a ministry nature will continue to step out with eagerness to exercise their much-needed spiritual gifts and leadership. They have a lot of potential as “soldiers fully armed and equipped,” as Solvej puts it, but only now beginning to step “into their spot in the row.”

PRAISE God for the progress made thus far at Roskilde Vineyard and His promise that “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6, NIV)

Friday, September 05, 2008

Bible Colleges Begin their Academic Year

Denmark has two major charismatic denominations, the Pinse Kirke (Pentecostal Church) Church and the Apostolsk Kirke (Apostolic Church). Each of these denominations maintains a two-year Bible college: Mariager Højskole (Danish Pentecostal Bible College) and International Apostolsk Højskole (International Apostolic Bible College). Qualified graduates of both schools are eligible to continue their studies toward the Bachelor in Ministry degree from Australia’s Harvest Bible College in a schedule of class taught in Denmark.

International Apostolic Bible College
(top image) is located in Kolding (pronounced CALL-ding), a city in southeast Jutland. The school’s campus, less than a mile from Kolding’s city center, is situated next to a small lake surrounded by a large and beautiful park, nor far from open countryside and forested areas. The school opens its academic year on September 21 with 80 new students. Principal Brent Christiansen heads the faculty that includes, Birthe Christiansen, Moise Olivier, Dominique Lachat, Birgit Tind, Ole Drejer, Steffen Bay, Linda Flament, Cecile Favre, Johnny Hansen, Thomas Christiansen, Manu Marcotto, and Dorte Viftrup.

The Danish Pentecostal Bible College (bottom image)
, already in session for its 2008-2009 academic year, is located farther north in a charming town in Mariager (pronounced MY –air) in east central Jutland, 36 miles (58 kilometers) north of Aarhus. The town is connected to the Baltic Sea via a deep saltwater inlet called Mariager Fjord. The Bible College is attractively situated on a large campus in perfect surroundings, close to Mariager Fjord. This year the school has enrolled 64 new students, its largest incoming class since 2000. Kent Jacobsen is the school’s principal. He heads a faculty composed of Peter Hove Sørensen, Bjarne Knudsen, Leif Petterson, Jakob Vagner, Rikke Lauritsen, Simon Linde, David Jakobsen, Peder Poulsen, and Solfried Bracher.

Bible Colleges such as these are important for the growth and development of charismatically-oriented free churches in Denmark. Unfortunately, because of lack of time during my trip to Denmark two years ago I did not had the privilege of spending time at the International Apostolic Bible College, other than to pass by its location in Kolding. As it turned out, I did manage to spend a bit of time and walk the campus at Mariager. As I have mentioned previously, I attended a Tuesday evening student-led worship service at Mariager which was an inspiring experience. Both schools nurture their students’ spiritual lives carefully in the Word and in dynamic worship experiences. Much emphasis is placed on the importance of prayer and on providing seasons of all-school prayer (see the Pray for Denmark posting for April 3, 2008 for further details about the prayer emphases at Mariager).

It is noteworthy that the campuses of both schools again this year were utilized by other free church denominations for their summer camps. Both Bible Colleges deserve our prayer support, especially that they may provide a continuing flow of pastors for the charismatic free churches and contribute hugely to revival, renewal, evangelism and church planting in Denmark and other countries.

PRAY for Principal Brent Christiansen at Kolding and Principal Kent Jacobsen at Mariager that the Lord will give them wise, Spirit-led leadership for their heavy responsibilities in overseeing the work of their respective schools.

PRAY for the faculty and staff at Kolding’s International Apostolic Bible College that they will handle the Word of God skillfully, with intellectual integrity, and with spiritual maturity in all their classes and in all of their contacts with students.

PRAY that the faculty and staff at Mariager’s Danish Pentecostal Bible College will be recipients of outstanding Spirit-endowed ability to satisfy the intellectual and spiritual needs of students both in the classroom and in one-on-one contacts.

PRAY that the hearts and minds of students will be open and receptive to the teaching they receive and that they will be obedient to what the Spirit of God lays on their hearts for the effective use of their spiritual gifts wherever the Lord may lead them.

PRAY for a spirit of unity and prayerfulness among administration, faculty and students to pervade both schools throughout the entire academic year and that the name of the Lord Jesus Christ will be high and lifted up by these two learning and worshiping communities.