“But there is no need to panic,” says Jiří Unger, president of the European Evangelical Alliance, originally from Czech Republic, often emphasized as the most atheist country of the old continent. Unger wrote a Foreword to the Deborah Meroff’s book Europe: Restoring Hope (OM Publishing), my favorite but tough read these days. Unger is an optimist.
It was perhaps even 15 years ago when John Mulinde, of Uganda, spoke about Europe as of a paralyzed man from Luke 5. This man was brought to Jesus by his four friends, who finding no way to bring him in (because of the crowd) went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through roof tiles – right before Jesus. By four friends Mulinde meant four continents: Africa, Asia, North and Latin America, i.e. missionaries coming from these lands. As I was contemplating over that powerful picture, somehow I saw the Balkans being like the bleeding wounds on that sick man. Strong and hurting.
Years have passed, some war and hate ‘wounds’ have healed, but I see more hurt in Europe than before. There are 20 European countries in which there is less than 1% of an evangelical (born again Christians) presence. Three countries are holding the first three places in the world in suicide rates: Belarus, Lithuania and Russia, one-third of children born in the EU countries only (27 nations) are born out-of-wedlock, more than 200,000 women and girls for sex slavery annually are smuggled out of Central and Eastern Europe and former Soviet Union, with half of them ending in Western Europe and roughly one-quarter in the US … and the list of wounds goes on and on.
It is not easy to read Deborah’s book. However, I highly recommend it to everyone interested to listen – and mostly because of the segments in each chapter titled: What Can You and Your Church Do? In this brief break in between difficult stories she offers to us to be intolerant of stigma and discrimination, to pray, do research, talk and learn, to volunteer and give resources, to use special events… in other words, to get involved.
Are you involved?