England (MNN) — There are more than 500 unreached people groups in Europe. One of them is England's self-proclaimed pagans. A history teacher at the University of Bristol, Professor Ronald Hutton, believes there are at least 100,000 "practicing" pagans in the country.
According to a 2011 national survey, 25% of England's population claimed no religious affiliation. That's a 10% increase from 2001, and the numbers are significantly rising among British youth: four in ten people claiming no religious beliefs were under the age of 25.
An article from International Mission Board writer Charles Braddox highlights the rise of paganism, emphasizing the growth in English cities Norwich and Glastonbury. English believers supported by IMB are bringing the Truth of the Gospel to these towns.
"It is sad to see such a spiritual void in England that is regressing back to hedonistic practices," Norwich pastor Marvin Lucas told Braddox.
Lucas knows the hopelessness first-hand. While growing up in England, he was an "outspoken opponent" to anything associated with Christianity.
"It was at St. Andrews Hall where I would party," he recalls. "I remember collapsing in a drunken stupor during a party in this building. It is ironic how this place of radical religious fervor is now a place of sin and debauchery."
Lucas chose the "narrow path" mentioned in Matthew 7 when he was 25 years old. He committed his life to Christ and was baptized. Today, he's a minister of the Norwich Christian Church, pastors two house churches in the city, and runs a counseling center.
"The future of Christianity looks bleak in Britain, but sometimes in the deepest darkness, light shines the brightest," says Lucas.
Fellow English pastor Mark Tall leads the Norwich Central Baptist Church. In his eyes, the rise of "non-religion" holds a silver lining.
"The census tells us that there may well be more people interested than we think, even in Norwich," says Tall. "The press may use statistics to paint a dreary picture for Christians, but there are those who are coming to life-changing faith in the God who lives among us. Clearly there is no room for complacency, but neither should we sink into despair.
"Rather, we should work together to make Jesus known, as well as live a life of faith among those who may have none."
Through "Embrace," IMB connects Southern Baptist churches in the U.S. with congregations in Europe like the Norwich Christian Church and Norwich Central Baptist Church. With your help, unreached communities can hear the Gospel.
People are searching for something, so pray that they will find truth in God through His Spirit and His children. Pray for the boldness of His church to share, in love and truth, the Gospel. Ask God how you can serve in England or even in your surrounding area.