When we look at Christianity there is something quite unique about it when compared with other religions. What is it? It is that the center of Christianity keeps shifting geographically and in terms of people’s groups. The center for Islam has always been the Middle East. The center for Buddhism has always been Southern Asia, but the center for Christianity has kept changing throughout the centuries. The church first started in Jerusalem, then spread to Judea and Samaria, then it was Galatia and North Africa, then Europe, then America and now the center of Christianity has been shifting to the Global South, to Sub-Saharan Africa, South and Central America, and Southern Asia. This attests how Christianity is a religion of truth and Spirit that is not confined to a specific people’s group or tradition.
When looking at Europe nowadays it is important to understand the phenomenon that are taking place and think strategically. When looking to Europe it is important to start by making a distinction between Western Europe and Eastern Europe. Western Europe is now what can be called a post-Christian society, and it is becoming largely anti-Christian. That is the direction it is going more and more, although rural areas still remain more Christian. In Western Europe, Christianity is increasingly seen as an historical oppressor and persecutor that should now be oppressed and persecuted.
Then we have Eastern Europe. Eastern Europe was under Communism rule for many years where Christianity was persecuted and repressed together with any kind of religion and spirituality. So actually, Eastern Europe is currently a much more fertile ground for the gospel that the West. Most of our church members are from Eastern Europe although our missions were mostly located in the West.
Now an interesting phenomenon is happening in Western Europe that is being called the Blessed Reflex – the people’s groups that were evangelized long ago by European missionaries are now themselves emigrating to Europe and attending and forming churches in Europe, evangelizing and planting churches. These are mainly people’s groups from the Global South from regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and Southern Asia.
After years of decline, London churches attendance is growing again. Why is that? Because of immigrants and immigrant churches, especially African churches in England. There are also the know phenomenon of African and Haitian churches in France, Latin American churches in Spain, Brazilian churches in Portugal, and Romanian churches in Ireland, to mention a few. Many Chinese churches are also multiplying and growing across Europe in many countries. These are not only immigrant churches but also immigrants growing in multicultural churches.
As we consider these sociological changes, we need to plan strategically. What does Western Europe have to offer for missions? It can contribute mainly with money, business, Biblical knowledge, theological studies, and general education. What do East Europe the Southern Regions have to offer? People, devotion for God, and passion for the kingdom. 2020 is the year where an evangelism explosion will happen around the world.
So for us in Europe it is very strategic to prepare to welcome members from other regions by acquiring and establishing Olivet Centers, forming businesses, schools, and developing training, in order to prepare to raise new leaders. In this unique time of globalization, we need to try to use the best that each region has to offer in a strategic way, bringing many people from the places where the harvest is ripe and supporting those regions missions financially and with education. We need to pray also to establish more missions in East Europe and prepare and make ways to welcome members from Africa, Asia, and Latin America which in fact has already started to happen. May the regions pray and prepare for this vision.