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The challenge in Europe

Europe is a unique challenge in missions.

When I became AG World Missions executive director in 1997, the first major change I felt led by the Lord to make involved the Europe region. At that time, Europe was part of the Eurasia region — a part of the world where opportunities were growing considerably, especially since the breakup of the former Soviet Union. With so many strategic areas in one region, the time seemed right to make Europe a separate entity for greater focus and oversight.

One of the great challenges of this new region has always been helping the American church understand that Europe is as spiritually needy as anywhere else in the world. In many European countries, less than 1 percent of the population are born-again Christians.

The hardened spiritual climate of this region was made clear to me in the early 1980s during a major missions strategy conference in Europe. Convention leaders mobilized all those in attendance to do street evangelism. They prepared beautifully printed tracts for us to distribute, and we took to the streets.

My assignment was in Amsterdam, Netherlands. As my colleagues and I handed the literature to the people, most of them did not even wait for us to get out of their sight before they threw it to the ground. Only a few kept it to read. My experience was only a small representation of the challenge of missions in Europe. Most Europeans are spiritually complacent at best. Many are hostile to religion in general, and especially to Christianity.

AG World Missions has 478 missionaries serving in 36 countries in Europe. They desperately need our prayers and support. Thankfully, the spiritual climate is changing in the Netherlands, and great breakthroughs in evangelism and church planting are taking place. Significant growth is being seen in other countries as well, including Switzerland, Bulgaria and Italy. But while great progress is taking place in certain parts of Europe, most of the region is still very gospel-resistant.

As missions opportunities in Europe increase, our missionaries face another looming challenge. The weak dollar against the strong euro has put them under severe financial pressure. Many are making great personal sacrifices just to continue serving where the Lord of the harvest has called them.

Randy Hurst’s cover story concerning unreached, post-modern Europe and his conversation with regional director Greg Mundis describe both the opportunities and needs of the region in greater detail. Let these articles speak to your heart and provoke you to pray regularly for the lost of Europe. We are called by our Lord to proclaim the gospel wherever people are spiritually lost. That includes Europe as much as anywhere else.

Europe desperately needs a new spiritual reformation. If our ears and hearts are tuned to our Master’s Great Commission, we cannot neglect this region. Instead, let us cry out for its people, 98 percent of whom walk the streets, spiritually lost and headed for eternity without Christ.


L. JOHN BUENO is executive director of AG World Missions.

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