Thursday, August 29, 2013

Quiet Life, Amazing Impact

After quietly toiling in Africa for most of his adult life as a Bible translator, Iver Larsen wasn’t looking for recognition. But though he doesn’t consider himself a theologian, he was recently named “Theologian of the Year” by the Menihedsfakultet at the Lutheran School of Theology in Aarhus.

It’s quite an honor for Larsen, who left Denmark in 1977 with his wife Alice to begin a career with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Eventually they were able to translate the Scriptures into the “Sabaot” native language in Kenya.

He’s perhaps better known for his work translating the Bible into everyday Danish, producing the hugely popular Bibelen på Hverdagsdansk, or Bible in Everyday Danish. Originally published in 2007, it’s now available to read online, as well.

According to Jørgen Jørgensen from the School of Theology, Larsen is someone who has lived “a quiet, inconspicuous life, but who is an expert in his field.” His work, he added, “is theology at its best: a tool to unlock God’s wisdom, one that makes it accessible for ordinary people.”

Today you'll find Bibelen på Hverdagsdansk in churches all across Denmark, and Larsen’s faithfulness has made it possible for new generations of Danes to understand and learn from God’s Word. And although he retired last year, he’s still keeping up with translation projects in Kenya by way of Skype and email, mentoring workers and passing along his decades of experience.

THANK GOD for the quiet but influential work of Iver Larsen, and for his continued influence on Bible translation efforts.

PRAY that God would continue to reach new generations in Denmark with his truth through this modern Danish translation.

PRAY ALSO that Danes of all ages who don’t yet follow Christ would encounter Bibelen på Hverdagsdansk… even in the most unexpected of places.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

50 Years Later: Will Young Danes Find Faith?

Denmark’s KFS student outreach group turns 50 this year. And despite challenges, its members are looking ahead to reaching more college and high school students with the gospel of Jesus.
As co-founder Kai Kjær-Hansen recalls, the early gatherings started with prayer meetings and then an outreach at Rønne Statsskole on the island of Bornholm. He and two other volunteers invited students to discuss their objections to faith in Christ. They called the talks “Your Excuses: Do They Hold Up?” No one quite knew how many would respond, but 27 students showed up for those initial meetings.
“Our goal wasn’t discussion for the sake of discussion,” recalls Kjær-Hansen. “We used it as a way to see how we could approach the centrality of Jesus’ death and resurrection, as the most important thing.”

Today KFS, which stands for “Kristeligt Forbund for Studerende” (“Christian Fellowship for Students”), has groups and contacts in 170 of the 400 colleges and universities around the country, with 13 staff and several volunteers. Overall it reaches some 5,000 students yearly through Bible study groups and outreach events at campuses nationwide.
Denmark’s KFS is part of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students, a global community spanning 150 countries worldwide. The US partner is InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.
It's not just for college students, however. In Denmark, high school outreaches have also grown to be a real strength of the ministry. The challenge now is that not enough students stay involved at the college level. And Kjær-Hansen has his own challenge for the ministry today.
During the pioneering days of the early 1960s, he says, “we were full of zeal. In the rear-view mirror, we can ask ourselves if that zeal lacked intellect or understanding. As an older person I can say that maybe we have the intellect, but what then happens to the zeal?”
PRAY for the coming school year, as KFS staff and volunteers gear up for a new year of outreach.
PRAY for boldness as young Christians learn how to share their faith on campus.
PRAY that God would inspire many more Danish students to live out their faith and reach out to others, especially at the university level.
PRAY for revival on the high school and college campuses of Denmark, starting from the small-group studies in dorm rooms, and spreading throughout each campus to the surrounding churches.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Summer Camps: Only the First Step

As they have for years, thousands of Danish Christians met last month to renew relationships and experience God in a fresh way at the annual event called “SommerOase.” Their gathering of tents and trailers transformed a large open field on the outskirts of Odder (east-central Jylland) into one of Denmark’s largest annual Christian gatherings.

It’s certainly not the only Christian summer family camp in the country. From Lutherans to Baptists to Pentecostals, Danish Christians take full advantage of long July days and anticipated warmer weather to schedule summer retreats, youth events, and family gatherings. But SommerOase may be the largest of its kind. Karsten Bach, general secretary of the DanskOase renewal movement, reported that this year the sun shone on their event in more than one way.

“We’ve been blessed both with good weather,” he said at the end of the event, “and the certain warmth of God’s presence. We’ve experienced a SommerOase where God has touched people through preaching, songs of praise, and prayer. Several have accepted Jesus for the first time, and many people have renewed their faith.”

This is Bach’s second summer event as the renewal movement’s general secretary; he began with DanskOase in May of 2012. He’s publicly expressed a dream of reaching out to even more Danes, bringing them into what he calls “the joy of being a part of a living Christian fellowship.”

“It’s here we meet to experience our unity in the family,” explained Bach. “At the same time, we want to be open and welcoming. So for example on our free visit day, we welcomed 40 people from a summer school for refugees in Aarhus.”

Jens Kristian Sørensen, a SommerOase camper and local teacher, said that for him, “SommerOase is a chance for renewal and challenge in my faith. It’s time to relax and spend time with friends, but also time to grow in my faith in God.”

Take a moment to thank God for the summer camps and retreats that have taken place across Denmark this summer, and thank God for the uncommonly sunny weather. (Summer rain is often the norm.)

And be sure to take a moment to view the SommerOase video here. It showcases some of the families, young people, and worship times. It’s encouraging to watch, even if you don’t understand the brief testimonies. And…

PRAY for lasting results in families and churches as Danes return from the refreshment of a summer event. PRAY that SommerOase and other summer gatherings would mark new beginnings in revival throughout the rest of the year.

PRAY for the young people who trusted Christ for the first time, that they would find continuing opportunities to grow in their new faith. PRAY that they would grow, despite opposition from family or friends, and despite temptations or distractions around them.

PRAY also for others who made renewed commitments, that God would show them practical steps to growing spiritually in their everyday lives.

THANK GOD for SommerOase, and continue to lift up its leadership -- including Karsten Bach -- in prayer.