Vera, a local church planting partner in Czech Republic, has faced a problem this summer as she’s led children’s evangelistic English camps: they haven’t had enough Bibles. This problem is unprecedented to have in the country described as the most atheistic country in all of Europe.
“I have never seen in my life such an interest in kids knowing God,” said Vera. “These kids have such a hunger for the gospel. Today I kept describing to them who God is and how He loves them. They were just sitting and eagerly listening. They even chose to read the Bible instead of jump on the trampoline. I have never seen kids so hungry for God’s Word!”
Stories like these are being celebrated all around Europe this summer. Many workers sense that post-pandemic Europe is “ripe for harvest” (John 4:35). In light of these good signs, missionary teams in Europe and their partnering churches are uniting in the month of September to fast and pray in preparation for a bold evangelism push in October.
Europe has been a hard mission field for many decades, leading the world in secularism and post-Christian culture. Missionaries serving here have described their job to sow the seeds of the gospel as “plowing concrete” because the receptivity to spiritual conversation has been so low. As we emerge from the pandemic, we feel a little like Noah standing on the ark after the rain and wondering about the new normal. And like Noah sending out his dove to test the waters, we in Europe are going to test our waters and see if God might have softened the soil around us.
IMB Europe leader Jacob Boss has been talking to church planters and partners around Europe, and many have stories like Vera’s. They are hopeful that God is at work in a unique way.
“Have hearts in Europe softened from the corona season as people have pondered life and some of the bigger questions? The only way we’ll know is to get out there, sow some seed and see what happens next,” Boss said.
But first, we pray
But first we must prepare. Satan has had a foothold in Europe, and the resistance to the gospel isn’t just apathy or busyness or ignorance. Ephesians 6 reminds us that we are engaged in a spiritual battle for the hearts of Europeans.
“This battle in Europe that we’re fighting is not with flesh and blood, but it’s with principalities and powers of darkness, and so there are these kingdoms that are clashing together, as we’re going out and sharing the gospel of Jesus,” Boss said.
“We want to spend some time looking up and gazing at His glory and beauty, spend some time looking in, making sure that our hearts are right before the Lord, and we want to spend some time looking out and praying for the harvest,” Boss said.
And with our praying, we fast
“Fasting is often partnered with prayer in Scripture (Acts 14:23; Nehemiah 1:4; Psalm 35:13). Jesus, ahead of His own spiritual battle, modeled prayer and fasting for us during His 40 days in the wilderness (Matthew 4). So IMB Europe missionaries invite U.S. supporters to join them in this effort as well. Scripture only mentions fasting from food, but many things take our time and focus from God, making it harder to hear His voice. Fasting from Netflix, social media or sugar/caffeine can also be a way to deprive ourselves of something we are used to in order to focus on praying and seeking the Spirit’s leading.
Next step: bold evangelism
“It’s not really about doing more. It’s about going to the next level with what we already do,” Kevin Darnell, IMB worker in the Basque region of Spain, explained.
It’s also about encouraging partnering churches and local believers to go to the next level. For Darnell’s team that means working together with his local church partners in casting vision for new work.
“We’re excited about this unique season. We’re in the beginning stages of a new church plant, and we’ll be praying about how to do this both as an IMB team and as a church,” Kevin said. “In John 4:34, Jesus said that His desire was to do the will of Him who sent Him and to accomplish His work. So, we need to ask ourselves what it looks like for us to align our will with the Father’s. Setting aside time and space as a team to pray and fast will help us to know,” Kevin said.
Consider joining IMB EURO for a month of fasting and prayer in September. There are resources available to help you know how to pray and to understand why we fast.