Stockholm church uses pub for outreach

By June 18, 2008

Sweden (MNN) — A local pub is home to a small congregation in Varburg, Sweden,
as it reaches out to its community simply by meeting felt needs. 

The congregation of thirty people, mostly immigrants from Iraq,
sets up a table outside of "their" pub on Saturday nights between midnight at 3
a.m. The believers offer hot coffee or
tea to passersby, many of whom are teenagers, and then point out the pub where the
congregation meets for church on Sunday mornings.  

The people of Varburg, a community in Stockholm, appreciate the refreshment table
as a great act of service. The police
chief holds the table up as a model for how residents can make a difference in
their community. 

"People might not always be in the mood to talk about
God," says Forrest Hendrix, a missionary with Greater Europe Mission.
"But they are impressed with our desire to share the love of God by
offering them a hot cup of coffee or tea as they pass by. We let them know
where we meet for church on Sunday mornings, and since it happens to be one of
the pubs that we're standing beside, they would have no problem finding

The congregation is mainly made up of immigrants from Iraq, some of whom began following Christ before
they emigrated to Sweden. 97,000 immigrants came to Sweden in 2006, many of them from Iraq. At least 300,000 Muslims live in Sweden,
principally in large urban areas. 

Even though Sweden
is one of the most permissive societies in Europe,
life is not easy for immigrants to the country. 

"Immigrants often feel that Swedes treat them with
prejudice," said Hendrix. "I find that immigrants become curious
about the claims of Christ when they see faith played out in one's lifestyle.
Even Muslims are very interested in the love and grace of the Christian

Ammar is an Iraqi immigrant who couldn't resist finding out
more about the church that meets in a pub. He and his family had previously attended church while living in Iraq, but never
in a pub. Hendrix encouraged him to
visit the church and became his mentor. Eventually, Ammar was baptized. He is thankful for the freedom he has to follow Christ in Sweden, away from the violence in Iraq. 

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