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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Changing Face, Change of Heart

By Randy Hurst
April 3, 2011

Christian images are abundant in Europe. In many cities, statues of Bible figures are prominent in public places and in countless cathedrals. Crosses are silhouetted against the sky and worn on necklaces. Yet the concepts of atonement and redemption are unknown to all but a few.

In the 1500s, Europe gave us the Reformation, restoring to Christendom the understanding of salvation by grace alone through faith. Two centuries ago the greatest expansion of Christianity emanated from Europe when missionaries took the gospel throughout the known world.

That was then. Today, less than 3 percent of people in Europe know Jesus. Now Europe is among the least reached populations of the world.

In 2000, a television series recognized the 100 most influential men and women of the last millennium. First and third on the list were Johannes Gutenberg and Martin Luther. Even secular historians recognize the impact of great Christians who influenced history and shaped the Western world. But for most people living in Europe today, a living faith is not even a distant memory. Vital Christianity is relegated to accounts in history books.

Almost 14 years ago, John Bueno was elected to serve as the executive director of Assemblies of God World Missions. His first major decision was to divide the Eurasia region, which had grown significantly since the end of the Cold War and the breakup of the Soviet Union. Europe became a distinct region for AG World Missions, and Greg Mundis, who had served for 18 years as a missionary in Austria and seven as area director for Central Europe, was named the new regional director for Europe.

Shortly afterward, I accompanied Greg on a trip to Europe to gather stories for publication. I clearly remember us standing together on Mars Hill in Athens, Greece, and contemplating the apostle Paul’s efforts to bring the gospel to the ancient Greeks. We then traveled to Sarajevo, Bosnia. Walking amid bullet-riddled ruins of the Bosnian war was heartrending.

Another of our stops was Vienna, Austria. After taking a photograph of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, I turned and noticed a sad expression on Greg’s face. “What’s wrong?” I asked.

“This is my home,” he replied with tear-filled eyes.

At each stop along our journey, I became increasingly aware of the passion in Greg’s heart for the lost of Europe. In the last 13 years, his passion has never waned.

Most recently, our travels focused on the Europe Region’s initiative to reach the flood of immigrants coming to the continent. Many are concerned and even alarmed at the shifting demographics of Europe and the religious influences of Buddhism and Islam that are supplanting Christianity.

With escalating immigration has come an incredible challenge and, in some ways, an even greater opportunity. Among the masses of immigrants are many devoted and fervent Christians from Africa, Latin America and Asia. With fresh vitality and faith, they are joining evangelical and Pentecostal believers in Europe to share the gospel, not only with the immigrant populations, but also with classic Europeans.

The great potential of what the Spirit is doing extends far beyond Europe. Many immigrants in Europe are from countries where missionary activity is highly restricted. They can communicate with their own people and even go back freely to their homelands and share the gospel with their families and neighbors. Who can imagine what the Spirit has planned and is accomplishing even now?

The face of Europe is changing, but what people desperately need is a change of heart. Greg believes Europe needs much more than another reformation. It needs a revolution — a turnaround that will accelerate the spread of the gospel and multiply the church of Jesus Christ.

RANDY HURST is communications director for AG World Missions.

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