Monday, August 17, 2009

Unanticipated Ministry

When Pray for (abbrev. PFD) came online in 2004, something happened subsequently that neither Brad nor I had quite anticipated. Almost from the beginning we have had requests from people going to Denmark for a visit or even for temporary or long-term residence to assist them in finding “a good evangelical, Bible-believing church.” We have had requests from students coming to Denmark for higher education and also for Danish students who have studied in other countries and while there have come to faith in Christ. They need to find a Danish congregation that will nurture them in the faith. Once, a crew member on a ship that had come into Copenhagen harbor emailed us to help him find a church in the city where he could worship on the Lord’s Day. It was rather amusing that he would email us in the United States to assist him in finding a church in the very city in Denmark where his ship was docked. What wonders of communication there are in our modern day. Though it has surprised us to have such requests as these, we thank the Lord for this unanticipated and unplanned facet of our ministry.

I have endeavored to be as helpful as possible in responding to these various requests. Though I have a pretty good handle on the various Danish denominations and organizations and their theological commitments, I am sometimes hard put to locate a “good church” in some of the out-of-the-way locations in Denmark, though I try very hard to do so. Many evangelical churches tend to be located in urban areas with fewer to be found in the smaller towns and rural areas. I know a number of Danish pastors and churches and have contact with some that I have not met personally, so it has been interesting research for me in helping inquirers find a church or to make contact with a pastor or church leader.

We are often asked to recommend a church that has services in English, though I have responded that the vast majority of Danes speak English and many Danish churches are glad to provide simultaneous translation during their services. Some inquirers insist that the church they wish to find has to be non- charismatic in theology and practice, while others are just as emphatic that they are looking for a charismatic church. That sometimes makes it difficult because among evangelicals in Denmark currently the charismatic movement has made significant numerical gains and a majority of the Danish free churches appear to have accepted that theological commitment, including some Lutheran churches. Unfortunately, some of the older non-charismatic or classic evangelical churches appear to have cooled off and have lost much of their original evangelistic zeal. Evangelicals from other countries seem to think that the choice of churches in Denmark would parallel those to be found in their own countries. For that reason, I often have to explain the situation in Denmark and that choices of denominations and churches are fewer in number. My greatest regret is that PFD does not always get feedback from the recommendations that are made, though there are those who have expressed gratitude for this aspect of our ministry.

While helping people find a church is an unanticipated but yet important part of what Pray for does, it is secondary to our main emphasis, that is, soliciting prayer worldwide for revival/renewal, evangelism and church planting in Denmark.

PRAY that the Holy Spirit will give wisdom and discernment in assisting those who contact Pray for find a church in the area they plan to visit or where they expect to establish permanent or temporary residence.

PRAY especially for churches in the larger Danish cities that regularly have services in English and attract visitors from many countries. An example of such churches is Copenhagen’s First International Baptist Church whose entire ministry is English-language based..

PRAY for a young Dane who was an exchange student in the United States and while abroad found Christ as Savior and Lord. This young person, and possibly others like him, needs to be integrated in a Bible-believing Danish congregation where he can be nurtured in the faith and find supportive friendships and fellowship with other believers. PFD has made some church recommendations.