Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Introducing the Tuohy Family in Esbjerg

Confident and determined to follow God’s leading, Martin and Hansy Tuohy recently returned after five years in the United States to their home base in Denmark’s city of Esbjerg. Martin completed his biblical education at Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas and received his Master of Theology degree on May 8. The Tuohys had lived in Esbjerg before leaving for study in the USA and Martin has members of his family living there as well. Hansy was originally from the Faroe Islands. The Tuohys have four children: Jónatan, Isabel, Victoria, and Emma Grace.

The family is in fellowship with a small church in Esbjerg, Den Kristen Forsamling i Mølleparken (The Christian Assembly in Mill Park). This small assembly has been in existence for 30 years but has for some time lacked the theological background and gifting of someone who can offer systematic teaching of the Scriptures, as had been true in past years. This is the very thing that will be the focus of Martin’s ministry. The worldwide network of non-denominational churches (i.e. assemblies) popularly known as “Brethren,” from which the Esbjerg assembly springs, has been noted for the emphasis on such teaching. Some of the most well-known and able verse-by-verse expositors of the Bible have come from within that fellowship of churches, especially in Great Britain and the United States. Among them have been such Bible teachers and scholars as H. A. Ironside, Robert Chapman, J. N. Darby, F. F. Bruce, A. C. Gabelein, Samuel Ridout, F. C. Jennings, J. G. Bellet, W. E. Vine, and many others.

Martin is well-equipped spiritually and academically for this ministry of the Word of God. He is now teaching on Sunday mornings following the church’s Breaking of Bread service (believers’ worshipful remembrance of Christ’s death and resurrection). The Breaking of Bread, as it is called, has been a hallmark of assemblies services from their beginning in England in the early 1800s. Martin is rejoicing having a part in a ministry that he believes strongly has great potential for Mølleparken assembly’s development and growth. While Mølleparken is not exactly a new church plant, the Lord has given him an opportunity to help the church get up and ready for what He has for its future. As he puts it, “Prayer supporters have been doing the groundbreaking work here in Denmark. May this mean that the seeds of God’s Word that we cast out here will fall on good soil.”

As far as getting started in ministry is concerned, Martin says the first learning objective has seemingly been more about waiting than doing and adds humorously, “We thought waiting was what missionaries did before leaving for the field.” Martin will have to be self-supporting at present and has had to secure secular employment. He writes, “Our years at seminary should have prepared us to expect the unexpected from God, but once again we are reminded that some lessons, though basic, are not learned in just a few years. Before moving, we made a mental list of the challenges we expected to face. So far, we have only been able to add to the list, rather than check them off. I am sure the others will come later.”

Martin’s Danish mother and other members of his family have been very helpful getting the family settled into an adequate rented home near the church and daughter Isabel’s school, and only a few minutes away from his parents’ farm.

Esbjerg, Denmark’s fifth largest city, is located on the central west coast of Jutland, about three hours west of Copenhagen and just an hour away from the original Legoland. It is a city and area of 115,000 people. At one time Esbjerg was noted for its large fishing industry. However, with the discovery of oil and gas in the North Sea, the harbor is now mainly devoted to the needs of this new industry.

The Folkekirke (state church) is found all over the area, but Esbjerg has several “free churches” (independent of the Folkekirke), including Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, Apostolic, Word of Faith, Salvation Army and non-denominational churches. I understand, and I hope correctly, that none of these churches has over 80 in attendance and non-charismatic churches are doing well to have 20 attenders at Sunday services. Martin believes, “There is much work to be done among Bible-believing evangelicals.”

Of Denmark in general, Martin writes: “It seems Danes are searching for answers, but many have dismissed Christianity, thinking they already know what Christianity is all about [through] confirmation classes …”The truth of the matter is they have received a false understanding of what the gospel is all about … It is our desire to help people in Denmark realize that they have not been given the whole truth regarding Christianity. We want to be available to them to present God not only as their loving Creator, but also as the only One worthy of our worship.”

PRAY that God will provide liberally for the material needs of the Tuohys and their children.

that Martin’s life and testimony before his fellow workers at his secular employment will draw them to the church and to Christ Himself.

PRAY that believers at Mølleparken assembly will grow in grace and knowledge of Christ through Martin’s teaching ministry and become a major influence for the gospel of grace in the Esbjerg area.

PRAY that as God leads Martin’s ministry may ultimately extend to teaching opportunities at Danish and Faroese Brethren assemblies in Hirtshals, Odense, Copenhagen, Amager (Kristnastova), Glostrup, Skovlunde, and perhaps even in the Faroe Islands.

PRAY that the believers of Mølleparken assembly, armed with sound teaching from the Word, will be spurred to seek new ways and means of confronting men, women, and children with the truth of the gospel of grace and that many in the Esbjerg area will come to faith in Christ as Savior and Lord.

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