by Larry Henderson
I’ll never forget when I felt called to be a missionary as a teenager. What stands out to me is I never felt called to a place; I felt called to reach people. Melinda and I always thought we would go serve somewhere familiar like the places we had traveled to on mission trips, yet as we prayed, we clearly felt the Lord leading us to Europe.
As beautiful and majestic as the landscapes of Europe are, the diversity of nations that have come to Europe still capture my heart every day. Europe has become home to diaspora peoples, students, diplomats, x-pats, short-term and long-term workers who have made our gateway cities their destiny.
Due to this phenomenon of our rapidly globalizing world, God has intentionally positioned the international church to partner with our national churches to reach both secular Europeans and global citizens who have integrated into our continent. It’s not “either / or,” but “both / and.” We have a unique call of reaching our diverse populations while making a major spiritual impact among the secular European population.
In fact, we have crossed a threshold where our FEIC’s are reaching more Europeans than any other regional people group in the world! At the same time, we are collectively reaching internationals from 154 unique countries as reported from our recent FEIC survey.
Our heart at FEIC is not to act independently in and of ourselves, but rather to cooperate with our national partners who will make room for us to come along side of them in reaching today’s Europe. There are so many different models so we have to be careful thinking there is just one way. Yet we believe with all of our heart that God gives a distinct fingerprint for each church and each city. We can learn from each other but we must find the blueprint of the Spirit for our city!
In Acts 17, Paul travels to Athens, which was the intellectual center of the Greco-Roman world at that time. In Acts 18, he travels to Corinth which was one of the great economical / commercial cities of its day. In Acts 19, he final arrives in Ephesus, which was known as a religious hub for the Roman empire. Finally, by the end of Acts, Paul makes his way to Rome to preach the Gospel in the capital of political and military influence.
In every city, Paul found the unique strategy of the Spirit in order to reach that city for Jesus. Sometimes he stayed a short time and in other places it took longer. Yet by reaching the city, Paul touched every segment of society for the Kingdom.
Luke 19:41 records, “And when he (Jesus) drew near and saw the city, he wept over it.” When is the last time you wept over your city? Do you, do I, spend enough time seeking God’s blueprint for our cities? I’m convinced He wants to show us!
In 1992, a good friend of mine, Rusty Nelson, recorded an album with Integrity Music called “Take This City.” I still listen to it from time to time to remind myself that God really has given us our city. Vienna for Jesus! Rome for Jesus! Brussels and Berlin for Jesus! Your city belongs to Jesus!
Europe is changing and the church must be sensitive to the diverse needs that only Jesus can heal and redeem. Our prayer is that God will stir our hearts again this week during our FEIC Summit to go home and declare – “Jesus is still the hope for Europe!”