Politically you may be in or out. As a disciple of Jesus I hope, whether out or in, you are for the people of Europe.
I met a guy ministering in Portugal when we were just over the border in Badajoz a few years ago. He sent me an email last week. It began:
“The latest, and more detailed, report from the Evangelical Alliance in the evolution of the evangelical community in Portugal, Southern Europe, makes sobering reading. In the last 15 years 322 churches have been started but 1000 churches have been lost. We now have 964 churches in the country. The average size of churches is 49 people but this drops to an attendance of less than 25 for 86% of the few churches existing in the district of Vila Real – our neighbours. Added to that around 50% of churches nationwide have congregations that are predominantly in the above 45 age range with the average age of pastors being 52. With the percentage of evangelicals in the country now standing at 0.43% we have been in steady decline since the year 2000.”
Ok, add the caveats – evangelical church activity that shows up on a survey isn’t a fully comprehensive picture of the Kingdom of God’s activity. But read Mike’s last sentence again. The church in Portugal is, humanly speaking, on its last legs.
And British Christians don’t go. Because the level of poverty isn’t quite as obvious as in parts of Peru. It doesn’t feel as all out radical as pitching up in Pakistan. It isn’t as awesome as bible translation in Papua New Guinea. It just doesn’t preach as well for the sending pastor. It’s a place to go on holiday and build sand castles, not lay your life down and build people, isn’t it?
Going there has nearly all of the cost – family wise, financially, and foreignness-ness as any of those other places, but tell someone you’re moving there and they’ll reply with a breezy “Have a nice time”, not an earnest, “what are your bank details? We’ll be praying for you”. It just doesn’t have the prayer letter pazzazz, or future platform ministry possibilities. Maybe it’s the type of place only disciples go.
Mike and Jessica have seen growing churches planted, filled with portuguese people, since they pitched up with their young family in the 80’s. The are exceptional people in more ways than one. They’re asking for help – for prayer, and for people.
Vote on the 23rd. But please do also pray for more workers to be sent into the european harvest field.