"There are two places you can die of thirst- the desert and the ocean. Europe is the spiritual ocean of the world." -AL in Europe
While a number of Europeans still identify themselves as Christians, statistical data shows a tremendous decline in the overall religiosity of European society. On the contrary, a speedy rise in non-religious beliefs such as atheism has been observed especially among the European young adults.
In 2018, a study [Europe’s Young Adults and Religion] was conducted by St. Mary’s University Twickenham London in collaboration with the Institut Catholique de Paris on the issue of Europe’s young adults and their affiliation with religion. 1
According to the findings of this study, the proportion of European young adults who have no religious affiliation is surprisingly high. It’s 70% in the UK, 64% in France and 91% in Czech Republic. These figures are disturbingly high for nations that once proclaimed the Word of God.
This is one of the many statistical analyses that shows how secularism has gradually taken over European society, and the numbers of Christians are shrinking even though many still identify themselves as Christians.
Many of us do not consider Europe as a harvest field for Christ because we associate it as the birthplace of the Reformation. Moreover, it was the European countries that originally sent missionaries to Asia and other parts of the world in the past. Some of our churches in Singapore were planted by European missionaries. Even today, many sovereign countries within Europe continue to send missionaries into various parts of Asia.
However, it is still interesting to note that some of the nations in Europe are currently the most unchurched in the world, and there is a need to send missionaries to them. Just as there is the “Back to Jerusalem” movement, there is also a “Back to Europe” movement – nations that were blessed with the gospel by European missionaries are now bringing the gospel back to Europe.
There are many European countries that are ranked among the smallest evangelical Christian populations in the world. Some parts of Europe are atheistic – largely affected by communism - but other parts are religious in a way that just inculcates the people from the true life of the Gospel. In the recent years, many countries have received a large number of immigrants and refugees from around the world, including countries that do not open their borders to Christian workers.
We need workers in all these communities. Europe is one of the many mission fields that our missionaries from Pioneers inAsia serve in; they are involved in church planting and multiplication through ministries such as friendship evangelism, discipleship, education, bible translation, engaging with professionals, working with refugees and other diaspora populations, and even ministry amongst the disabled.
We need people who are teachable and adaptable, who are able to work well in a team, people who are passionate to share the love of Jesus with the lost. This is what we can do to bring the lost sheep back to Jesus, back to the sheepfolds where they once belonged. It is time for us, the Church of the East, to share in the burden of spreading the Gospel not only to the unreached regions of the world but to also take it back to the West.