There are somewhere over 500 million people in Europe - depending on exactly where you place the borders - and most of them do not know that God loves them. In much of Southern Europe, less than one person in 100 is an evangelical Christian, and the churches are small and divided. If they are to reach this generation, they need help from places like Britain, where the church is comparatively strong.
In the last 50 years, many people have gone into Europe as missionaries. As a result, churches have been planted, and much other good work has been done. But the sad truth is that the majority of these people do not survive as missionaries. In Italy, only 10% of missionaries return for a second term. The same is true of missionaries in France, and even of evangelists working in their own country - most do not continue in this ministry beyond the first five years.
The astonishing truth is that many of the people who start out as evangelists in Europe were never adequately prepared for the work. Nothing can completely prepare you for the realities of this kind of lifestyle, but it is possible to provide a solid basis - both in teaching and experience - which will enable the evangelist to continue in the work they start.
That is where Europe Now comes in. We have been supporting missionaries in Europe for some years, and now we have started the Snowball training programme to equip people for an evangelistic ministry. Bible Colleges do a wonderful job in training people to be pastors, but the ministry of an evangelist requires very different skills from that of a pastor.
Snowball provides training for an evangelistic ministry. People who are called into this work need to understand the Bible and develop a godly character, but they also need to learn how to exercise a ministry that will not burn out or blow up in five years. They need to learn, for example, how to work in teams, how to work in partnership with the local church, and how to encourage others to join them.
Paul & Sue have been a part of Europe Now since the start. Europe Now itself is one of the ministries which has grown up, at least in part, as a result of the vision God gave them before their marriage.
This was a vision for the local church really functioning as the Body of Christ. Living and working towards this goal caused Paul & Sue to be involved in many areas of church life: leading housegroups, organising houseparties and other training programmes, evangelism, leading services, preaching, and serving on the eldership. All of this was done so that individuals would grow in their faith and the church would discover how to be the Body of Christ.
One key aspect of this vision was that a healthy church must be a missionary church, sending out people to serve God and build His Kingdom in other places. Over the years, numerous people were sent out, including Mark & Sue Howe, from whose ministry came Europe Now.
In March 1999, the trustees asked Paul to become the UK Director. Paul is now responsible for the UK aspects of Europe Now's work, which includes the training programme.
Snowball is an intensive on-the-job training programme for evangelists. Jesus trained His first disciples by teaching them as they shared in His ministry, and we do the same.
As part of the training, the students are given a thorough grounding in Biblical truth. This truth is shown to be the foundation for a lifetime of ministry, shaping both the content of the gospel we proclaim and the manner in which it is proclaimed. This is worked out in a number of practical areas:
Successfully completing the course does not commit the student to working with OAC, but it does mean this option is open to them. If, at the end of the year, the student wants to explore working with OAC full time, they will be placed in a team with experienced evangelists before being taken on as full OACI staff members.
Europe Now grew out of the missionary work of a local church in Guildford in the 1980s. It was formally established as a registered charity in 1995, and became part of Open Air Campaigners International in 1996. OACI was started in Australia in 1892, and now works in many countries across the world.
As part of the Evangelical Missionary Alliance (now known as Global Action), Europe Now helped to formulate the 'Code of Best Practice for Short Term Mission', and subscribes to this code when organising short term missions in Europe.
Apart from these missions and the Snowball training programme, Europe Now works to promote missionary work and evangelism, helping people who think they may be called to this work explore that calling along with their local church. For the people who serve with Open Air Campaigners, Europe Now helps to support and encourage them on the field, and publicises their work in the UK.
The work of Europe Now is supported through the generous giving of God's people. All the workers are expected to raise enough support to cover the cost of providing their salary and also the expenses involved in undertaking their ministry. Europe Now has no 'spare' funds to make up any shortfall, so if there are insufficient funds either the ministry is cut back or the staff and their families get less money.
Just as important as the financial support - Europe Now needs the prayer support of God's people. We are engaged in a spiritual battle, and we need to pray and be prayed for so that we will be protected in the work we do and so that God's word will work effectively in the lives of the people we reach.
If you would like to be a part of this work, either by personal involvement of your time and energy, or through prayer and financial support, please contact Europe Now at the address below. Thank you for reading this.
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This page last updated 15 March 2000.