Sunday, January 26, 2014

An American in Aarhus

For months, Amy Emerson wasn’t sure if she could even stay in Denmark. As a young American volunteer with Youth for Christ, she had arrived in the country back in the summer of 2011, full of hope that God would use her to help disciple Danish students. Though her new home in Aarhus was a world away from her Minneapolis upbringing, she was ready to tackle the challenges of learning Danish, making new friends, and reaching out to strangers from another culture. She had already prayed through many obstacles, not the least of which was raising her monthly support from friends and family back in the States. Still, none of that is easy. And it’s especially not easy for someone like her to secure a visa. 

Today Amy helps lead a team of YFC volunteers who are enrolled in an 11-month discipleship program. Together they learn more about Christian leadership, and then in turn minister to middle school students. Amy reports that she and her team share God’s love with 6,000 students throughout the year. 

Among other things, Amy also organizes YFC-sponsored outreach and music events. She’s active in her bilingual church, Eurolife Kirke, in their outreach and ministry to university students. 

And yes, her visa application was accepted last November -- a clear answer to prayer. That means she can now renew her visa yearly for the next five years, then apply for permanent residence.

“I am overwhelmed with the excitement of this process being over and being at peace with my life here in Denmark,” she writes in her blog. “Tomorrow I can go through my day without worrying if it is the last day at my job or in my home. I feel extremely blessed by the many people that have taken the time to pray for and also trust in God’s plan for my life and ministry. Above all, I am humbled by this place and life that God has given me and the fact that this journey has only just begun.” 

Still there are challenges ahead. A major outreach effort, the “Volontør” (“Apprentice”) program, has the potential to reach thousands of Danish teens – but needs qualified leaders to make it happen. It’s slated for a relaunch in 2014, and Amy asks for prayer and wisdom.

Please pray with us for Amy, for the people she works with, and for revival among Danish teens. Hear more from Amy in this recent video interview from her church. 

PRAY for the right students to join the 2014/2015 Youth for Christ team. 

PRAY specifically for the Volontør program, relaunching this year – for just the right leadership and help, and for success as they reach out.

PRAY that Amy and her YFC co-workers will be used by God to introduce many Danish young people to new life in Jesus Christ. 

PRAY for Amy’s other ministry opportunities – from band tours and campus ministry to speaking opportunities at youth events. Pray for discernment and wisdom as she works with different people throughout Denmark… and even the rest of Europe. 

PRAY that Amy’s ongoing financial needs will be met, and that her visa will be renewed yearly.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Prayer Week 2014: Day 8

Finally on Sunday we come to Day 8 of “Bedeuge” (Prayer Week) in Denmark, which concludes with the admonition to “Serve One Another.” It’s a natural result of seeing, admonishing, caring, showing hospitality… all those things we’ve been praying for over the past week.

At the end of this concentrated week of prayer, Danes are now asking themselves, “How has God gifted me?” and then “How can I share that gift to serve others?” Because Christ came as a servant, so we follow his example. Not so that we can show the world how talented we are, or how much we can get from the deal. In this model, there is no expectation of return. We follow our Savior where he leads. And we’re simply told “through love, serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13)

THANK the Lord that he loves Denmark, and the Danish people, more than anyone.

ASK him to give you a renewed heart of compassion to pray for this country and its people.

PRAY that the Danish church would hear the call to servanthood, and that as it grows, Danish believers would follow Christ’s servant model. (It’s one to which we can all aspire, in his strength.)

PRAY that God would open the hearts of Danes, also through his Spirit, in generosity and mutual service. Pray that outsiders will see the difference and be drawn to the Savior as a result.

PRAY that the Danish church would continue not only to open its doors in service to those within its borders, but also to needs worldwide.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Prayer Week 2014: Day 7

Now it’s Saturday, Day 7 of “Bedeuge,” (Prayer Week) in Denmark. We’ve been praying often for unity across denominational lines, and that seems to be a deeply felt need there. Keep that in mind as you continue to pray for revival there. Jesus prayed this prayer himself. God hears this prayer.

Meanwhile, today’s theme is “Bear With One Another,” as described in Colossians 3:13. In other words, make allowance for each other’s faults. And the key here is “each other.” It goes both ways: We forgive those who offend us, and they forgive us. We remember that we have our quirks and weaknesses, just like everyone else. Following the example of Jesus, it’s one of the keys to keeping peace within the local (and larger) Body of Christ. It’s also a critical practice in a small country where many of the smaller churches are scattered, where believers can sometimes feel they’re on their own in small fellowships.

THANK God for the example he gives us, loving us despite our shortcomings.

PRAY that Danish Christians will put past divisions behind them, looking at each other afresh with the eyes of Jesus.

PRAY that the change will be so remarkable, that unbelievers will take notice, and that many will be drawn to fellowships where ordinary people bear with one another.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Prayer Week 2014: Day 6

It’s Friday, Day 6 of “Bedeuge” (Prayer Week) in Denmark. Today’s theme: Share the Mind of Christ With Each Other.

Getting along with other believers? How’s that working for you? Whether we’re talking about churches in the US or in Denmark, that’s much easier said than done. The Bible tells us to “have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus…” And then it goes on to describe the God who gave up his privileges, who came as a servant, and who demonstrated humility. His example is the foundation for unity in the church, all across Denmark.

Today, Danish Christians are being asked to –

THANK the Lord that he lowered himself to our level, in humility, for us.

LOOK AT issues from the perspective of other believers, in other Christian fellowships across Denmark.

PRAY for the mind of Christ, that Christians might experience greater fellowship and oneness with believers outside their local church.

Let’s join them in those prayers.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Prayer Week 2014: Day 5

Thursday, Day 5 of “Bedeuge” (Prayer Week) in Denmark, highlights a daily theme that could cause confusion: Admonish One Another. That’s because the word often translated “admonish” in Hebrews 10, is often taken in a negative light. That’s just as true in Danish as it is in English.

But think of it this way: In Scripture we’re told to admonish each other for the purpose of encouragement, and for building up each other. It’s positive, not negative.

Even so, that’s a tough sell in a culture where it’s tough to be vulnerable or accountable enough to hear the kind of caring advice that can do us the most good. Sound familiar? But God cares about His church in Denmark so much that he wants Danish Christians to open their lives to each other, to become vulnerable to each other in love, and to see them grow into mature disciples. That’s our prayer for today.

PRAY that God will help Danish believers lower their cultural defenses so that they might admonish each other, and encourage each other in love.

PRAY for the flourishing of small groups where genuine growth can happen.

PRAY that God will open channels of respect and openness among Danish believers of different traditions, so they might build each other up -- even across denominational lines.

PRAY for those walls to come down in love.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Prayer Week 2014: Day 4

Wednesday. It’s Day 4 of “Bedeuge” (Prayer Week) in Denmark.  And Hebrews 13:2 is quoted in the week’s daily devotional:

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Which brings us to the day’s theme: Show Hospitality to One Another. Why? Once again, God has provided an example for us to follow, throwing open the doors to his very own home, his Kingdom, inviting us in.

And in many growing Danish churches, one sees a common denominator: An emphasis on hospitality within small groups. It’s no coincidence, but the moving of God’s Holy Spirit. We’re talking about the kind of hospitality that invites strangers for dinner. The kind of hospitality where believers open their lives to each other. The kind of hospitality and fellowship that provides accountability and a biblical pattern for growing as disciples of Jesus.

Watch and pray. Danish hospitality and community can provide a warm environment for growing the church of Jesus in this country.

PRAY that Danish Christians would continue to rediscover authentic biblical hospitality as a way to grow authentic disciples.

PRAY that even the smallest churches in remote towns would learn to practice hospitality more and more. And in the cities, as well!

PRAY that Danish Christians would be known for opening their doors to refugees and immigrants, and that God would give them a heart for hospitality to strangers.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Prayer Week 2014: Day 3

Tuesday, Day 3 of “Bedeuge” (Prayer Week) in Denmark, brings us to a challenging theme: Care for One Another. Of course, God has shown his care for us in Jesus Christ, as an example of how we should care for others. But how can we put that example into practice?

That’s the question Danish Christians face. And that’s a unique challenge in a country where few live in want, where government programs are designed to provide everything from comprehensive health care to psychological counseling and generous vacation time. Danes are proud of their social welfare safety net.

Perhaps that leaves the Danish church in an interesting position, at times, wondering how to demonstrate care for each other, and care for those outside the Body of Christ. After all, hasn’t that been the role of the government?

PRAY for Danish believers, that God would show them new ways -- even unexpected new ways -- to care for each other.

PRAY that the Danish church would continue to reach out to foreigners and immigrants, making a place for them in Christian fellowship.

PRAY that God would give Danish Christians new boldness to reach out in love to those who feel unloved, and that many would come to know Jesus as a result of that love and care.

PRAY that this may be the start of revival in Denmark.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Prayer Week 2014: Day 2

On Day 2 of “Bedeuge” (Prayer Week) in Denmark, organizers are asking Christians all around Denmark to “See One Another!” In other words, look for believers (and others!) in the workplace, on the street, in the grocery store, at home. Seek them out. Bless them with your care and attention, and find new ways to encourage them, as Jesus noticed and encouraged those around him.

If one may generalize, this speaks to the typically Danish tendency to quietly go about one’s business. In public, Danes often maintain a somewhat reserved personal style.

So the Prayer Week devotional book, circulated by the Danish Evangelical Alliance, describes their need this way:

To meet a Christian brother or sister who doesn’t see past me, but who sees me as I really am, and who gives me a bit of their attention, is a gift and a glimpse of Him who always shows me his full attention.

So let’s PRAY for relationships within the growing Danish church. As Jesus prayed, “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:21)

PRAY for unity at the congregational level, from small independent country churches, to larger urban church plants, to growing Lutheran churches in the Valgmenighed movement.

PRAY for Danish believers, that the Holy Spirit would fill their families and their fellowships in a fresh way.

Prayer Week 2014: Day 1

Today, Sunday, January 5, marks the beginning of a yearly prayer emphasis in Denmark, appropriately called “Bedeuge 2014,” or “Prayer Week 2014.” (Bede=Pray, Uge=Week.) It’s organized by the Evangelical Alliance (see PFD 5/21/13), and brings together believers in churches across the country under the question, “Shall we stand together and pray for Denmark?”

Shall we? The question goes to the heart of the “Pray for Denmark” ministry. And through your prayer and heart for Denmark, you join not only with PFD across North America and worldwide, but you join now with Danish believers at a time when many of them are on their knees daily, seeking God for mercy and direction in their country. So it’s a particularly good week for us to join them in prayer.

Prayer Week organizers are offering a daily theme for each day of this week, which we’ll pass along to you, as well. Here’s what they tell us on their Facebook entry for Sunday, January 5:

Prayer Week begins today, Sunday. The theme for the week is “Each Other,” with suggested daily prayer building from there. For example, the first day’s theme is “Love One Another.” We don’t often use the word “love” in the form of a command. But love between Christians can be described as a command. Namely, we love, because he first loved us.

Yes, we shall stand together and pray for Denmark. We can do no less.

THANK GOD that Christ first loved us, and ACKNOWLEDGE before him that we have often loved others… not enough.

PRAY for believers across Denmark today, that their lives might shine even more brightly in a land darkened by self-interest, consumerism, and sin. (Isn’t that like our own land?)

PRAY for a new, Spirit-led unity among Christians in Denmark -- that Lutherans, independents, Baptists, Pentecostals, and free church members might find common ground under the lordship of Jesus Christ.

PRAY that Danish believers might also find fresh encouragement in each other, and that they would boldly proclaim Jesus as they seek Him.