When I think of Europe my mind immediately wanders to the type of scene above, The Arno River in Florence, but it could quite as easily drift to one of my favourites such as the melting pot of Paris, the beauty of the French Atlantic coast, the majesty of the Swiss Alps or the serenity of the Austrian lakes (not to mention that wonder of the Roman Colosseum and Forum). The people, the smells, the food, the way of life are all a far cry from the port cities of England that I have spent most of my life living in. I am pretty well travelled in Europe, and would love to travel more, but in my brief knowledge about the customs and history of some of the great countries that make up our Union I have made some observations that make worthy prayers …
1. Europe is still a continent in bondage. Yes you did read that right. Europe, after several hundred years, is still emerging from it’s dark history under Catholicism. Actually, some parts never emerged at all. Spiritually, for me at least, this is a huge issue because it means that 100’s of years of papal intervention and Biblical interpretation has left the church in Europe, as Paul described, “having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:5). Indulgences, redemption through the mass, salvation for the dead and purgatory still haunt European shores. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit would anointed the preaching of the word of God by faithful men and that Europe would resound with the gospel of justification by grace alone, on the basis of Christ alone, through faith alone, to the glory of God alone, as laid out with final authority in Scripture alone.
2. Europe has never been unknown to God. Yes you read that right too. Europe, is ripe for harvest. I read stories from my friend’s church in Budapest, Hungary, sending 100’s of missionaries into the harvest and another in Leipzig, Germany welcoming refugees so that they might share Christ’s love. Women here are given a rose with John 3:16 written out in Arabic and a huge word in English that said “SPECIAL.” I read stories about my friends in the Ukraine sharing Jesus with young people and I’m watching God touching people in Italy. There are some remarkable individual ministries and churches that are doing great things for the Kingdom of God as they serve Jesus with joy, with hope and perseverance. God has not forgotten Europe and we must prayer that Europe does not forget God. That’s my prayer.
3. Europe is changing. Change is slow but it is changing. This year my wife and I where blessed to have visited Rome for our wedding anniversary. We spent a whole day walking around the Colosseum and Roman Forum in the heart of Rome. I never expected the Colosseum to be so large, or the Forum to be so expansive. It simply was overwhelming. Yet, I cannot forget that the stones were placed by 100,000 Jewish slaves who the Romans took from the Jewish Wars in which Jerusalem was sacked. Built on the blood of slaves. 100 years ago Europe was torn apart by two of the bloodiest wars in our history. In World War One alone, 1.2 million soldiers from the British Empire will killed. Additionally, 8% of the population of Romania were wiped out. The second World War Lithuania lost 14% of it’s population to the war. The Soviet Union had 26 million soldiers killed in action, China 20 million. How do you recover from that? How does a nation get back up from that? In the 90’s the area formally known as Yugoslavia broke into 7 countries and required both NATO and the UN to step in. Clearly, by just looking at Europe’s history, we have experienced huge change in the last century alone. But I also see a change for good. More and more people are opening up to the gospel. Fewer borders mean that the gospel can spread like it has never done before. So I’m praying, even at this uncertain time, that Europe would change for the better. That God would have his way and revival would come to this great continent.