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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. ...

An Interview With Paul Trementozzi

Europe Regional Director Paul Trementozzi and Assemblies of God World Missions Communications Director Randy Hurst discuss what God is doing in Europe and the exciting days ahead.

Randy: How would you describe Europe’s spiritual state?

Paul: Europe’s story is like the Parable of the Prodigal Son. The Enlightenment, spiritual renewals and revivals sprang up in Europe and influenced the world. But Europe ran away from the Father. And just as the prodigal came to himself and went back to his father, Europe has the opportunity to turn back to the Heavenly Father. As the father eagerly ran to meet his prodigal son, our Heavenly Father is running to Europe, eager to restore fellowship with it.

Randy: What are some of the challenges Europe faces on its way back to the Father?

Paul: I think the biggest challenge is overcoming the long history of violation by established religion. It began with the Crusades, which took place in the name of Christ. Religious wars and unrest have continued ever since. To help change things, we first have to work on trust. People aren’t going to trust us just because we talk about Jesus. They’ve heard that before, but they have been violated by those who told them. Christ’s compassion is more than a message; it is who we are in Christ. We need to give people the Gentle Lamb, the One who doesn’t try to destroy them but instead reaches out to them.

Randy:  What are some of the brightest spots where ?the church is making an impact?

Paul: I’ve spent 11 years in the Southern Europe area, so I’m a bit more in tune with what’s happening there. Italy and Spain are blossoming. These [Assemblies of God/Pentecostal] fellowships have great leadership and an incredible impetus on growth and church planting. The Spain Fellowship has set a goal to grow from 250 churches to 1,000 churches by 2020. Church leaders and believers there are determined.

Greg Mundis and I were in Ireland in January to witness the official “turning over of the guard” as P.J. Booth was officially installed as general superintendent of the Ireland Assemblies of God. Missionary Gary Davidson has been in Ireland 32 years and capably prepared the Fellowship for this time. The Fellowship numbers approximately 35 churches, and the new superintendent has announced plans to plant more. Believers in Ireland are unified and ready to go.

The favor of God is also on our educational institutions. Bible schools in other parts of the world are actually planting Bible schools in Europe. It’s a new day for education.

Randy: What is the role of the AGWM Europe region in reaching today’s Europe?

Paul: For a long time, churches in Europe were basically on their own, doing their own thing. Over the last several years, Greg Mundis was instrumental in bringing greater unity by emphasizing that we are people of like faith. This common ground really took hold. As a result, we began partnering in a greater way, and there is greater unity than we have ever experienced.

Randy: How can a unified church overcome people’s negative perceptions of religion?

Paul: One of the misnomers in Europe is that young people don’t want anything to do with spirituality. The truth is that they have great fervency for the spiritual. Just because they are aware of past abuses by the organized, formal church doesn’t mean they won’t connect with truth and a genuine spiritual experience.

God is using our missionaries and national believers to share the truth, and sometimes His ways are quite unusual. An example of this occurred in Spain. Missionary Shawn Galyen wanted to start an outreach at the University of Grenada, but all religions were banned on campus. As he prayed, he felt the Lord encourage him to bring over some friends from West Virginia who played bluegrass music. While in Grenada, the team met a professor from the university. Unaware of the man’s occupation, Shawn introduced his visitors as a bluegrass band. The professor said, “I don’t believe this. A class I teach is studying Southern-style music in the United States.”

This is a miracle, but the heart of how we need to approach young people in Europe is reflected in Shawn’s response. “I need to tell you up front that we are religious in nature,” he told the professor. “I’m not going to pretend or play games. We just want to be part of the debate.” As a result the door opened wide, Shawn was able to get on campus, and the young people saw an example of integrity.

Randy: Considering these signs of change in Europe, what should be the response of U.S. believers?

Paul: So many good things are happening. Considering the masses of immigration spreading across Europe today, the church faces more opportunities than ever before. When you reach Europe, you reach the world. Yet for too many years, Europe has experienced the pain of being away from the Father. Today is its opportunity to turn back to Christ. Let’s run with the Father to welcome Europe back to Him.

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