But whatis the spiritual situation like here? That was one of the first questions Iasked EMF missionaries John and Oline Taylor when I visited them recently. Theyexplained that, sadly, when it comes to religion, the picture is a lot lesspositive. Just over 71% of Norwegians are members of the Evangelical LutheranChurch and consider themselves Christians - which sounds wonderful. But probe alittle further and there is real cause for alarm. Theological liberalism andthe charismatic movement have had a devastating impact on the Lutheran churchover the last century. The net result is that today fewer than 10% of itsmembers actually attend services. In fact, recent research has revealed thatover 50% of the population no longer believes in God! Yes, there are a fewsmall signs of encouragement in some central and southern areas, but thereality is that Norway, like so many other European countries, is becoming incrediblysecular, materialistic and spiritually indifferent.
So, whatis the solution? What can be done to see the cause of Christ advance again inthis great land? Well, put simply we need more people like John and Oline. Foralmost 60 years they have laboured faithfully for the Lord in northern Norway –one of the least evangelical parts in the country. Their ministry has involvedhelping small groups of believers who were unable to have a pastor in several areasincluding Rotsund, Vardø, Brønnøysund,Berlevåg, and Espenes – where they currently live. Thework has been slow, difficult and very demanding. They’ve had to contend withboth the declining spiritual climate and the extreme weather climate (in thePolar Night period, which lasts from November to January, the sun doesn’t riseat all, and in the Midnight Sun period, from May to July, the sun never sets). Yetthey didn’t give up and didn’t give in. Indeed, their confidence in the powerof the gospel coupled with their passion for the salvation of Norwegian men andwomen is burning brighter than ever. John explained, ‘our hearts just bleed forthis land’. May the Lord in his mercy be pleased to raise up many more suchfaithful and zealous gospel workers for the needy land of Norway.
EMF NI REPRESENTATIVE