Europe (MNN) — French oil refineries reopened following days of unrest in protest of the government's forced pension reforms. In an effort to cut deficits, government leaders will require people to work two more years before they can receive their pensions.
This unrest is creating uncertainty, says President of Avant Ministries Jack Elwood. "With some of the government changing of rules about retirement, there's a new audio tape from Osama bin Laden threatening France for their involvement in Afghanistan. And I think this instability both religiously and politically is actually a great opportunity for the Gospel."
The Gospel is desperately needed, says Elwood. "Europe is primarily a spiritual wasteland. Indeed there are church buildings in almost every town, but they are mostly monuments and not really active centers of anything, but biblical worship."
Elwood says they're doing something about it. "We have teams in France, Italy, Slovenia, Poland, and the Czech Republic that are engaged in replanting the church, sharing the Gospel, making disciples, and establishing vibrant evangelical churches."
The challenges are immense, however. "Financially, the cost of living is staggering. [There is] spiritual resistance that's there from a secular approach, or nominal Roman Catholic. And then, especially in the last few decades, this increasing and rising Islamic population."
Elwood says, "In the midst of all the turmoil and the tension and the controversy, it's the churches finest hour."
Young people appear to be the most open to the Gospel, says Elwood. "While they have rejected religion, they're really open to spiritual discussions and relationships with people who seem to communicate a different way of life — a vibrant Christian testimony."
More willing workers are needed in Europe. Elwood says few people are interested in reaching Europe. "Many Americans assume they're already Christians and don't really understand the current reality that a number of countries, even in western Europe within the next two decade,s could become Muslim dominated majorities if the progression of birth-rates continue and the lack of an evangelical witness continues."
While the work can be frustrating and challenging, Elwood says "there are so many needs and so many opportunities that you could literally fire in any direction and not miss. So it's the greatest opportunity for the Gospel ever."
People and support are needed to help with European outreach. Click here to get more information.