TWR Europe’s “Epic Story” from Southern Europe
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Many people spend their year looking forward to the weeks they will spend basking in the sunshine and enjoying the special foods of Southern Europe.
But, what do we know about the spiritual conditions in these countries? We see many old cathedrals and churches. We know that Christianity has had some impact. But, what is that impact and how does it actually affect the lives of the Portuguese, Spaniards, French, Italians and Greeks who welcome us to come and enjoy their hospitality?
TWR Europe broadcasts via its Partners over secular, commercial FM stations in what we call “Southern Europe”: Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and Greece. While each country has its own unique culture, a common feature runs through this geographic region. Their religions are missing God’s love through the salvation of Jesus Christ. If the general populace cares about religion anymore, they normally think of it as a list of rules or traditions that they hope will one day merit heaven.
It is easy to think that the presence of so many religious buildings means that there is also an understanding of biblical principles and a commitment to living according to those principles. If you were to ask them, many of the people who live in these countries would respond that they are “Christians.” They have grown up in communities where churches have a strong influence.
Yet it comes as a surprise to many people that these South European countries contain some of the least evangelized peoples in the world. If you do a little research, you will find that the number of people who have and value a relationship with Jesus is very few. Traditional church attendance is declining rapidly. A recent survey done by Ipsos rated 10 of the larger western nations as to the level of the people’s belief in ‘God’. France was rated as having the least number of god-fearing people of all the countries polled.
These South European countries are prosperous economically. The standard of living is good and improving. We tend to think that prosperous countries somehow have the blessing of God, and those countries that lack a good standard of living also lack His blessing. It is easy to think that places like Africa are more spiritually needy. Yet statistics show that Africa has one of the highest percentages of true believers in Jesus Christ of any place in the world.
Can it be that Southern Europe has fewer Christians than portions of the Third World? Portuguese believers make up about 1% of the population. Greece has only 0.2% of its population who believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior. Spain, France and Italy fall in between these two statistics.
In this “Epic Story” in Italy, Eliseo and Cristina found their answer through Trans World Radio’s Partner in Italy, “CRC” (Centro di Radiodiffusione Cristiana).
Don’t just dream about a vacation in the sun. Ask the Lord what you can do to participate in through prayer and finances to work toward His goal for a truly Christian Southern Europe.
“Congratulations for the clearness of the message. I have called to ask you to pray because I have some problems with my eyes, but I also have problems at work. I am a police woman and I have two children who study away from home. I am asking for a loan to have some medications. Knowing that someone knows about my problem and prays for me would make me feel better.”
“I would like to have the radio program of the week. I have listened to the program once and I liked it very much. Thanks a lot for the help that you give me in following the truth. A few times I do not have the necessary time. I’m studying Italian. God bless you.”
“I am 23 years old, and I am very disappointed by all the religious realities which I have had contact with. I have been struck by what I heard and I was wondering which is the true religion to be followed. I have a Bible but I read it rarely.”
“I have listened to the program and I have guessed that it was not another religious transmission. What differences there are with the evangelicals. In the last few years I have suffered very much for my son's death because of an incurable illness. I went away from the church because of the cold attitude of the leader in that period. My evangelical friend always gives me a calendar and I read it every day. I will try to read the Bible too.”
- Italy is full of magnificent Cathedrals and churches that took hundreds of years to build, yet today some people have a shallow, ritualistic or even superstitious view of God. In what ways can we avoid that same fate in our own lives and culture?
- Cristina and Eliseo grew tired of the rituals and hypocrisy they saw around them. Do we treat our Christian life as a collection of rituals? If someone looked at our lives would they see us as hypocrites?
- Cristina and Eliseo turned to the radio to provide them with spiritual guidance, yet the radio could not replace a church. What is so important about being active in a church? Do we look for something in our lives that, while spiritual, replaces a church?
- When Cristina had a miscarriage, people from their previous church believed that it was God punishing Cristina and Eliseo. Why does God allow terrible things to happen to believers? Why do we so often believe that bad events are punishments as a direct result of someone's sin? How can we show love and not judgment to those going through a hard time?
- Italian Christian Growth -
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- Italian Discipleship -
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Please contact us regarding specific countries or languages for which you would like information. Call us in the U.S. at 1-800-456-7897 Or, find an Area Director or country office nearest you: www.twr.org
Further Information and Resources
c/o TWR Central Europe
PO Box 12