When a missionary goes to serve in Europe, most people assume they must have a pretty easy time. After all, there are already church buildings everywhere.
But TEAM missionary Jessica Applegarth describes it differently: “I heard a missionary here in Ireland says they feel like they spend all of their time pulling rocks out of the soil. [It’s] incredibly important for the planting process, but you don’t see any growth. You’re not even to the planting seeds stage yet.”
For generations, Europeans have seen religion used to gain political power. They’ve watched religious leaders abuse the vulnerable without being held to account. And they’ve sought solace in moralism and intellectualism.
“The predominant attitude across the board is that Christianity is a quaint relic of the past from which society has positively progressed,” says Dietrich Schindler, TEAM missionary to Germany.
For missionaries to succeed, they need to show nonbelievers that God is an active, living God who is faithful to transform lives. And doing so will require long-term dedication, perseverance and boldness.
“God has called so many of us to pull out rocks — to show the world Christ’s love through our lives … without any promise of seeing the harvest,” Jessica says.
Will you join us in prayer for these people who are so close and yet so far from the Truth? Let’s pray for post-Christian cultures.
1. Ask God to show people the emptiness of life without Him.
COVID-19 has led to an ongoing sense of fear and loss. At the same time, it’s taken away many of the outside distractions people would normally look to for comfort. Mental health has decreased across Europe. And in the midst of these struggles, people are wondering if there’s a higher power who cares for them.
With churches having to limit their gatherings, a church in France has started an internet ministry for seekers.
TEAM missionary Bob Clifford shares, “Since beginning in the fall, a team of lay workers has responded to nearly 100 questions — some theological, others in quest for answers to life or just seeking God.”
Please ask God to reveal life-giving His love, power and mercy to people in post-Christian cultures. Pray that the emptiness of life without Christ will drive them to Him.
2. Ask God to break down misconceptions about Christianity.
Even in the hardest times, misconceptions about God — and those who claim Him — can keep people from seeking Him. Spain, for example, has a rich Catholic history. But when the Catholic Church joined forces with the dictator Francisco Franco, generations came to associate God with tremendous horrors.
“Spain’s history mixed with layers of hypocrisy also raised doubts regarding spiritual or religious leaders,” says one TEAM missionary. She says today’s typical Spaniard thinks, “You believe in Christ? Show me. Let me watch your life for the next eight years. If I see something authentic, I’ll ask you about it.”
Please pray that missionaries will have sensitivity, guided by the Holy Spirit, as they dismantle long-held misconceptions. Pray that people will see beyond institutions and see His heart through the lives of believers.
3. Pray that believers will persevere in living authentic lives for Christ that draw others to Jesus.
As religious institutions have fallen out of power, Dietrich shares, “Truth has been individualized. ‘You can have your truth, which is not absolute, but please allow me my truth.’”
If believers want to draw others to the Gospel, their lives have to exhibit an ultimate Truth that’s worth having more than an individual’s truth.
“The challenge … is that presenting the Gospel is more than just theory, logic or even sentiment,” says TEAM Italy missionary David Cetola. “It is living it out so they see and experience through our lives how and why Christ makes a difference.”
Pray that missionaries — and all believers in post-Christian cultures — will live lives that clearly display the Truth of Christ. Pray that they will be patient as they wait for God to open the eyes of the people around them.
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