My pastor, Austin Gardner recently visited with us and wrote a report about his trip on his blog here. I wanted to repost the article in its entirety here on my website. I thought you might enjoy hearing about his trip and his thoughts about the work here in Europe. I am so thankful for my pastor’s friendship and encouragement. He has been a huge influence and help to since I first came to know him about 15 years ago.
I must admit to you that this trip changed my opinion. I have been quite down on missions to Europe. I still have the same questions that I would have had before but this trip showed me several things that I believe have caused me to rethink my previous findings.
I have doubted the work in Europe for all the traditional reasons and then some. Many missionaries call the United Kingdom the “burned over” area of the world. They have had the gospel. They have rejected the gospel and it seems that the time off seeing God do great things in this part of the world is over.
Others have told me that the UK and much of Europe is a place of gleanings! By that they mean that the time of harvest is over. They would say that God did His great work in Europe and has now moved His center of work to other places.
There is a general feeling of apathy over there. The missionaries and even the national pastors often seem to act as though you can’t expect great things from God. Now please remember that right now I am speaking of London, of the UK, of that part of the world. I do welcome your comments below. You do not have to agree. I am open to be taught and would welcome further conversation.
I have had some friends that have been quite angry with me for not promoting missions to Europe like I do to other parts of the world. I would like to tell you why I have taken that position and then possibly explain why I think that I may have been wrong.
While I was in London and in Northern Ireland on this past trip God showed me or allowed me to see some amazing things. I will share just a little of those in just a few lines.
My concerns with work in Europe has been based on what I have seen and heard from so many. I have allowed the public perception to affect me way too much. At the same time the Bible is clear that it is harder to get a rich man into heaven than to get a camel through the eye of a needle. Meaning that rich people typically feel like their life is set, they do not need God or anyone else. They are not so ready to hear a gospel message and feel no need to do so. Also the Bible states that the common people heard Jesus gladly and the standard has definitely been raised in the UK.
Please understand that the UK doesn’t know poverty like the rest of the world or even the USA. Their welfare system takes care of so many and quite well compared to the rest of the world. Just on this trip I was told that a pastor knew a family in a certain part of the UK where no one in the family had worked for three generations because they could make more money getting the “dole” or welfare than they could working.
Also Europe tends to be very educated. They have superior knowledge similar to the Greeks in I Corinthians and so they seek wisdom. They prefer man’s wisdom to something “foolish” like a person, the Lord Jesus, dying on a cross to save all of mankind. To them that seems like a very simplistic answer.
The following morning before we left the city James Wilson, in the red shirt, Chris Waye, Travis Snode, and I had breakfast. It was a wonderful time talking with an excited and motivated pastor and two great missionaries. I am blessed and excited to see what God is going to do.
The beautiful thing was that James was doing in the city exactly what I would challenge any of our guys to do anywhere else in the world. He was training some young men. There were about 5 of them. I mentioned that to him and he said that they were his team. I was elated. I told him that I was seeing a picture of exactly what God did in our ministry in Peru over 26 years ago.
Travis sure spent a long time and lots of hard work to see the Northwest Baptist Church get started but it got started. God sent His man. The church seems to be doing great. It is small but it is Northern Irish. It will grow and as James trains the young men we are going to see great things happen.
When I got to London I started praying and thinking of what I would do if I were there. I realized that the same truths apply in London and Europe as everywhere. The majority of people are not interested in the gospel, anywhere! If you go to the young couple that is getting a family started they might not be interested. If you go to the older couple they may have decided a long time ago that they do not believe in God or care anything for Him or the Bible. The wealthier people are always prouder it seems.
So what if you did in Europe what I did in Peru, what James is doing in the city in Northern Ireland. That is go find young men that want to serve God, young men that are looking for more. They are willing to listen. They will be trained and desire to serve God. As those young men surrender their lives then they are able to reach their families, their friends, and their neighbors. It was those young men that built the work in Peru.
Start a youth meeting. Find young people. Teach them the Bible. Teach them to love God. Teach them how to do the work. I spoke with a British pastor that says that he has been the youngest pastor that he has known for many years. He is now in his mid thirties. it is time to change that. Go get a Timothy. Teach him and watch what God does in and through him. I believe that there are young men who are hungry to know the gospel. Getting those first few will be hard but once you do it will take off.
It took me a year in Arequipa of working with everyone I could, having youth meetings, church meetings, visiting, inviting and praying to find the original five that got the work done. Remember our goal is to train men. These men will learn to do the work.
I still see the work in Europe as a bit more difficult. It is much more expensive. They are more educated, but God is still God. The Holy Spirit still convicts and draws. I know that God will do a work.
I confess that I was afraid that the young men that I loved and worked with would get hurt and burned in Europe. I didn’t want that. I confess that I had seen the difficulties and like an old parent was afraid for my friends and spiritual children. But I was just in London. There are lots of churches that believe the gospel that may not preach the gospel or present it clearly.
A friend attending the new Downham Baptist Church made the comment that the church was going to be a verse by verse Bible preaching church wasn’t it? He said that people were looking for that kind of church that didn’t give sermons that talked about the Bible but actually preached what the Bible said. He is my age.
On Sunday night in just two weeks the Snodes and the Wayes have seen 7 visitors. One man is already committed from their earlier work. I believe that God is going to greatly use them. They must focus on getting the young men and training them to do the ministry, in my opinion. They must go after everyone but train as much as they can.
God has allowed me to have several friends that are seeking to reach Europe. Our churcheither supports them or will as soon as we are able.
Scott Newton and
David Velasquez are working in two different cities in Spain. David is already working in two churches and seeing God move along with his dad who also works there. Scott is starting a new church right now.
John Grasty is raising support to get to Slovenia and will leave soon.
I confess to all of you that I was wrong. I was afraid out of love but admit that I think if you use the right plan of training men that you can be very successful and used of God in Europe. Please forgive me this wrong.
God has also allowed me to meet Pastor Martin Wickens and be blessed with his friendship.
So I left London knowing that I had been wrong. I know that God is still working in London and all of Europe. Yes, it is hard and will continue to be hard. Those that work there will need more support than most other people, but God is at work. I was blessed and honored to see God at work.
I will pray harder and help my friends as much as I can.
My final words to you. Find and train young men. Go after the young men that can be raised up to start a new move of God in Europe. I know that you will find that working there is like working in a wealthier, more educated place here in the USA. I also know that God can use you and your ministry to get the gospel around the world. Train men. Send them all over your country. Raise up a new missionary training and sending ministry there in Europe.
Like George Mueller of old prove that God does still hear and answer prayer. Prove that God is still alive, well, and at work.
I welcome your comments, your questions, your disagreements with this post. Please comment below. Please enter into a conversation with me. Thanks to all of you for taking the time to read this and pray for Europe with me.