Dear mission partners and friends,
Looking back is always a good exercise. It reminds you of what has been achieved and what hasn’t, especially when you are on the mission field. It helps you to see if your goals have been reached – and if not, why not?! When we came back to Sweden from Serbia we faced all kinds of obstacles – and some we still do. And yes, it took us a good couple of years to go through the transition into Swedish society again.
A lot of things we set out to do in our vision for Sweden have been achieved in a short time and others haven’t – yet. For example, some years ago we wanted to start a group in the church to train expository preaching but that did not happen. We know now that it was too early to launch that kind of ministry then. On the other hand, we started a leaders’ training course for our home groups earlier than we anticipated and we are very happy with how things are progressing in that area.
Last year was very interesting. Our Sunday morning services were well attended – almost double compared to the previous year (which meant a lot to us as we were few). Many of the newcomers looked for personal contact, so the need to work one-to-one increased rapidly. We also started to advertise our Sunday services in a local newspaper. At the same time we had our first public appearance at the annual fair in Åkersberga, where we had a wonderful opportunity to talk to people who knew nothing about our church. That too was a great encouragement.
We then had three major outreach events, all connected to the children’s ministry: the outreach at Easter, Hallåvän (in October) and the Christmas family service. We were thrilled to see many visitors returning and bringing their children to the children’s ministry group. And lastly, in the autumn, we were so excited to start a fourth bible group – for men.
A snapshot of what we are doing now.
One-to-one. One of our ways to evangelise and disciple people is one-to-one ministry. Chris is meeting up with several men every week for one-to-one bible reading. There is a huge hunger for the word of God but many of the men who are coming to the church are struggling both with their personal lives as well as family life and they have a lot of questions. Concerning the one-to-one readings, we have a fantastic testimony of God’s wonderful faithfulness and grace as one young man committed his life to Christ last year after doing the Christianity Explored course with Chris.
Another thing that we are doing is training some men to do one-to-one with others so that hopefully, in the near future, we will have more sharing in one-to-one gospel ministry.
Bible study groups. You know that we are very keen on word-centred bible studies. This has proven to be another way to stimulate growth in the church. We have several people whose lives have been transformed by gospel teaching in the home groups. If we look at the different pathways (how we lead people, step by step, into the church) it is usually by external ministries like the children’s work (where we meet young parents) or through one-to-one meetings. From that point on, they are led to either one of our bible study groups or the church bible study class. We are also encouraging them to come to our once-a-month Sunday afternoon apologetic class where we deal with the difficult questions people ask. In this way, we ground people thoroughly in Christ and the Christian faith.
What’s ahead of us? We do have an exciting time ahead of us and we feel very hopeful about what the future holds. Maybe this will be the year we launch a preaching group in the church. We have seen the potential for starting one or more bible study groups. We might even need to train up new bible study group facilitators. And we do want to run a marriage course this autumn; we planned it in the spring but decided on another marriage preparation course instead, our third in two years. This year we pray that as our outreach increases our church membership will increase too.
- Please pray for Emmaus Church in Åkersbegra. We have begun our third year as a church plant and as we are growing we face challenges – like the problem with the venue.
- Pray for Chris as he reads one-to-one with young men. Pray that he will be able to encourage and strengthen them. We give thanks to the Lord for the guy who committed his life to Christ – please pray as Chris disciples him.
- Pray for Lotta as she is juggling her job and the ministry in Emmaus Church.
- Pray for our bible study groups and all the people coming to them. Give thanks to God for those who committed their lives to Christ through these gatherings.
- Pray for all our upcoming ministries like the marriage course, the church preaching group, new bible study groups and the home group leaders’ training courses.
And finally, we want to take the opportunity to thank you all for your immense support and encouragement in our partnership in the gospel.
Yours in Christ,
Chris & Lotta