Mission from the Margin in Kosovo

Posted September 13, 2018 by europeanmission
Categories: Uncategorized

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Christianity as default is gone: the rise of a non-Christian Europe’, was the title above a recent article.1

We see this kind of message in publications with some regularity, but it struck me that this research was all about young people aged 16-29. I asked myself, a bit skeptically, ‘what will the future church look like?’ I can imagine from a Christian perspective, this is often exactly how the decrease of Christianity is seen. It feels painful and we feel skeptical. What will the church be in the future?

But then, in the same article, another sentence struck me: ‘In 20 or 30 years’ time, mainstream churches will be smaller, but the few people left will be highly committed.’2 Small in number, but highly committed. The church in the margin, as minority, but faithful present in the society. The aspect of Christian alienation might help us to understand the decreasing position of the church in a more healthy and positive way.
In this article we will look at 1 Peter 1:1 and at the Protestant-Evangelical movement in Kosovo. This church exists in the context of Islam, and has already been in the margins for decades.3

In the beginning of 1 Peter we see the author of the document calls his readers: ‘God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered’. (NIV) There are three elements in this verse which relate to Christian alienation: Identity, Estrangement and being Scattered. I will describe each and include some modest comments related to the church of Kosovo to give us possibly a more optimistic and hopeful view on the future of the Christian movement in the margins.4

Kosovo demographicsIdentity of the Christian movement

Why are Christians alienated on earth? It seems logical to say that this is a consequence of being Christian. But, in my humble opinion, it is often seen as an unintended – and even maybe unwanted – consequence. It might have negative associations. We do not long for Christian alienation. But in 1 Peter 1 Christian alienation is related to God’s sovereign love. The author speaks about God’s election and this makes the church a movement of strangers. Because of God’s sovereign love he has chosen the movement of Christians as His representatives on earth.5 So, if this is the case, Christian alienation is not, by definition, a negative consequence of being Christian or an unintentional aspect of Christian life. No, it is just a positive consequence of being chosen and intentional in nature. This is a radical other perspective which might be often overseen.

This consideration can be helpful for churches in the margins. In Kosovo for example, Christians have to face social persecution.6 There is tension within their families because they become Christians. Gossip, insults and disdain occur regularly. But, despite these difficulties which I don’t want to downplay, they may see that alienation, with all the challenges and difficulties, is intentional and a consequence of being chosen through godly love. That’s why Paul said: ‘You are no longer foreigners (…), but fellow-citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household (…) with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.’7 Such a clear identity gives a great comfort in all circumstances for the church in Kosovo as well for all churches all over the world.

Estrangement

The author of 1 Peter speaks about ‘strangers’. What does this mean?
First of all: believers are mentioned as strangers in this world. This because of their calling to live a holy, i.e. distinct, life.8 This holiness makes them different from their environment, because of their identity, because of their calling to live a holy life.
This difference is twofold in nature. 1) Christians feel themselves different in their own environment. This gives an inner estrangement to a non-Christian context. But the distinction also works the other way around: 2) The non-Christian context sees Christians as strange because they have other convictions and they behave differently. The latter one is an external perspective.

In relation to the external perspective Christians in Kosovo are often seen as foolish and even as traitors. This has to do with historical tensions between Serbs and Albanians. Kosovar Albanians know that Serbs are (Orthodox) Christians. From their perspective, the Christian Serbs killed and raped a lot of Albanians during the war at the end of the 90’s.9

With regard to the inner perspective Christians do face the fact that they have to behave differently. On the one hand they keep some distance and on the other hand they try to reach to their own people. This paradoxical attitude, inspired by the notion of Christian alienation, raises the question of how to protect the churches’ identity and at the same time try to be of value within the public sphere? Christians have to live their lives in the seemingly contradictory position of neither distance nor assimilation. Alienated but as seed in their environment.

Scattered

According to 1 Peter, Christians are apparently scattered in their non-Christian environment. This translation emphasizes the notion of being a minority or at the margin of a society. A movement which is scattered has no religious or political power. In Greek the term ‘diaspora’ is used. This also reminds us about the exile experience of the people of Israel during the Old Testament. What was one of the characteristics of the exile? Longing for their home, Canaan.

So, somehow Christians have a kind of diaspora experience.10 They are longing for their home country,11 the eschatological reality with God, and powerless in the earthly reality.
In Kosovo there is no Christian political movement, no Christian lobby, no big churches. In Kosovo we have only Christians who live their lives and share their hope within their families, within their villages. They share their hope for a future reality, but also hope for their country in this earthly reality. There is no room for any kind of escapism. And just in this paradoxical engagement they live their godly missional lives.

Godly lives, in the margin, in a non-Christian society. And from the margins Christians try to live in the midst of their (non-Christian) neighbors. Not as victims, but as victors, as chosen people. Alienated on earth, but not alienated before God.
I know; Christianity as default is gone, but I see the rise of a church in the margin in a non-Christian Europe. Right there where God called the church to be.

Rik and Matched Lubbers are ECM missionaries who have worked in Kosovo since 2013.

Endnotes
1. Sherwood, H., ‘Christianity as default is gone: the rise of a non-Christian Europe’ in: The Guardian, 21 March 2018. See: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/mar/21/christianity-non-christian-europe-young-people-survey-religion (Last consulted on 4-6-2018) Compare also: Bullivant, S., Europe’s Young Adults and Religion: Findings from the European Social Survey (2014-16) to inform the 2018 Synod of Bishops (London: St. Mary’s University, 2018)
2. Ibid
3. Because of the given space I cannot work out all the Bible passages related to ‘Christian alienation’. I chose the first letter of Peter because it is just this letter that turns a marginal indication of Christian alienation to a more prominent quality of the church. Cf. e.g. Gen. 23:4; Ps. 38:13 [LXX: 39:12] and Hebr. 11:13. At the same time we recognize that this designation of the Christian movement never had a central place in the NT. It is just one of the designations for the church.
4. Christian alienation contains a lot more, but for this contribution I have to limit myself.
5.. 2 Cor. 5:20. We deliberately use the terms
‘church’ and ‘Christian movement’ alternately to
emphasize the church as collective.
6.. With social persecution I do mean social tensions which expresses as e.g. discrimination, tension within families, disadvantaged positions on the labour market etc. In Kosovo is, as far as we know, no physical persecution.
7.. Eph 2:19.
8.. Cf. e.g. 1 Pet. 1:15, 16; 2:5, 9.
9.. The difference between the Serbian orthodox church, the catholic church and the protestant church is often unknown in Kosovo. I want to emphasize that it is, in no way, our intention to interfere in any political debate related to the existing tension between Serbs and Kosovar Albanians.

10. I am careful in using the notion of ‘exile’ for the Christian church. This has mainly to do with the fact that the exile was in the OT a punishment and judgement from God.

11. See e.g. 1 Pet. 1:4.

Reaching the Roma

Posted August 23, 2018 by europeanmission
Categories: Uncategorized

Download Vista 30 hereReaching the Roma

There is a bus which runs directly from a small Roma Hamlet in NE Slovakia to Sheffield. When Slovakia became part of the EU in 2007, many Slovakian Roma travelled on this bus and settled in estates in the north of Sheffield, UK.

As the number of Roma grew, so did tensions in the city. Stories of increased theft, litter-strewn streets and ghettoisation started to appear in newspapers. In 2015 there were fights in the streets, particularly between the Roma and Pakistani residents.

Whilst tensions have decreased in the city, any mention of the Roma generally brings stories of disrespectful, system-abusing, unwanted immigrants.

Marginalisation of the Roma – the largest ethnic minority in the EU, is nothing new. Efforts to improve integration have met with limited success, with one in three Roma in the EU experiencing some form of harassment, with 4% being physical violence. (Fundamental Rights report 2018, European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights)
Lack of education, employment opportunities and poor social skills contribute to their social exclusion. The 2016 European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey of nine member states found that 80 % still live at risk of poverty. Moreover, an average of 27 % of Roma live in households where at least one person had to go to bed hungry at least once in the previous month; in some EU Member States, this proportion is even higher.
In addressing some of the need, there are many ministries reaching out to the Roma across Europe – this article highlights just two.

Mission Possible in Bulgaria started running soup kitchens and classes for children in Roma villages and hamlets in 1998. In addition, they give ‘Baby Boxes’ to families with newborn children, which contain donated essentials such as clothes and nappies.

Roma girls are married young and many become mothers between ages 13 and 15. They don’t receive instruction and lack medical care. So alongside the Baby Boxes, the Mission Possible staff hold classes for the mothers giving them teaching, health care, and mental and spiritual help and support. The spiritual aspect is important, and in several Roma villages, churches have also been planted as part of Mission Possible’s work.

Back in Sheffield, a small missional community linked to a local church is reaching out to the Slovakian Roma living in one of the estates.
“Many Roma already know Jesus – one of the first things you’ll hear out of their mouths when you truly start to get to know them is ‘I love Jesus’,” explains Sarah who has been part of the group since mid-2017. ‘But we want that they might truly encounter the living God and to cultivate a spirit of worship among the children.”

The group is currently in touch with over 100 children and their families (with families typically having up to 10 children). Due to the nature of migration in Sheffield, most of the Roma are related to each other in some way, and homes are always open with children moving freely from one to another. Sarah reports that it is hard to walk up the street without being stopped by 10 different children, all eager for conversation. “In such large families, children are often hungry for attention and time – which is something we can give them,” she says.

“Part of our mission is house visits. When visiting a new family, it often takes no more than a knock on the door and saying ‘Hi, we’re neighbours, can we be friends’ to be let into their house, offered food, coffee and friendship. We listen to the adults as they express concerns or worries, helping them to decipher letters, finances, doctor appointments, as many adults have limited English and literacy. We often end by reading the Bible together, praying and singing to Jesus, which they love.”

The group also do discipleship classes with older teenagers, and a highlight of the week is the Jesus party (so-called by the children) where they all share food together, have a short sketch or talk, and then singing and dancing, with the children often making up their own songs of praise.

“We have also started doing homework with the children,” says Sarah. “Many struggle in schools. Their chaotic home lives mean that they are not able to adapt well to the rigid school environment, and most of them before coming to England will have very limited experience of school. In Slovakia, the Roma are not allowed in normal schools, and instead attend special schools – or none at all. As a result, children are not used to rules or sitting still, and the exclusion rate is disproportionately high.

Their parents’ lack of English means they often can’t get help with their homework, even if they want it. Often during home visits, children are keen to practice reading or maths, or show us with pride a class test they have passed.

“But the children and families are also extremely vulnerable. Grooming is an issue. Alcoholism is a problem in some families. They are often very poor, exploited by landlords and employers and unable to access legal aid.

“Even so, we are seeing lives transformed. Children who a year ago had little respect for authority, and who we struggled to engage with are now kind and respectful. They listen, are polite and don’t fight.

“The Roma are so eager to and ready to love, and deserving of our love, if only we are willing to put aside cultural barriers and see them as Jesus does. They are a beautiful people and we just need to open our eyes to see it.”

Jo & Sarah Appleton

For more information about mission among the Roma visit romanetworks.org

Marginalisation in Europe

Posted August 6, 2018 by europeanmission
Categories: Uncategorized

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Mission in Europe cannot be properly understood – or responsibly carried out – without reference to the margins of European societies and those who find themselves there. Just as Jesus’ mission was “at, with and from the margins… the church’s mission cannot be otherwise.” 1

For Jesus this meant spending time with women, children, gentiles, lepers, the poor and others who were excluded by his contemporaries. We are duty-bound to ask questions about equivalent groups in Europe today: who is marginalised, from what, and how? And what should be our response to such marginalisation? But we also need to ask searching questions about our own locatedness (centre or margin?) – and what those on the margins may be teaching us.

Some European Christians complain that secularisation has seen the church itself being marginalised but loss of power and – which are not to be understood primarily as geographical or physical but social.

The English language abounds with forceful words for those who have been described as “from the underside of history, from the outskirts of society, from among the oppressed masses”2: these are the downtrodden, the ostracized, the dehumanized, the subjugated, the alienated, the stigmatized and the disenfranchised. The common thread being a denial of the right to participate fully or equally in society; being “far removed from decision-making processes.”3

There are those who are marginalised on the basis of their ethnicity, race or religion, whether Roma or evangelical Christians in some countries, or victims of centuries-old prejudices and discrimination. Such marginalisation may be institutionalised, legalised or legitimized by state approval (or tacitly endorsed by, for example, state churches).

Secondly, there are those who are marginalised because of their social and economic status: the homeless, unemployed, lower social classes, prisoners and others who face limited opportunities as impersonal but powerful forces work to exclude them from fully participating in society. Refugees and asylum seekers and those who are trafficked also fall into this category: often socially marginalised and, sometimes barred altogether from ‘Fortress Europe’.

A third type of marginalised people are those who are rejected, dominated or
‘dis-privileged’ because of their identity: women, young people, the elderly, the disabled, those not conforming to heterosexual ‘norms’. Across Europe, different states have made different levels of progress in terms of social inclusivity and acceptance, with some lagging behind considerably.

All three forms of marginalisation describe situations where those with power and influence use it (whether intentionally or not) to control, impair or harm those with less (or no) power and influence. That is to say, marginalisation has its roots in human selfishness, power lust and, ultimately, sinfulness. It is a complex phenomenon and varies from context to context; a person who is marginalised in one setting may be someone who excludes or marginalises others in a different context.

Our response

How can European churches and Christians respond? There are at least four necessary responses.

Firstly, oppressive powers – and that includes those of marginalisation – must be identified and denounced. This is part of the church’s prophetic role in society, and such denunciation may bring us into conflict with elites and those benefiting from the status quo. In some countries such as the UK there are many precedents for such condemnation; in others countries, churches may need to take bolder steps to confront injustice and inequality.

Secondly, the church itself must practise a “radical inclusiveness”4 that simply refuses to perpetuate us/other divisions, fundamentally challenging the concept of core/margin thinking: all are to be welcomed, all are to be invited, and the need for genuine Christian hospitality has never been greater in European churches.

Thirdly, those who have been marginalised “should not be seen as only recipients… but as actors in mission.”5 The marginalised are to be equal participants not only in society but in terms of participating in God’s mission too. Some would go further and argue that marginalised people are the “main partners” in God’s mission.6 What could we learn from such sisters and brothers? As the World Council of Church statement Together Towards Life reminds us, on the margins it is often possible to see what is out of view from the centre.7

And finally, some hard questions need to be faced by European Christians, especially given our continent’s long history of imperialism and colonialism: how have our lives, our churches, our theology, even our missiology, served our own interests and excluded or marginalised others? To what extent are we complicit in others being marginalised? Have our actions (or inaction) led to other groups or individuals being kept out – of our countries, our parliaments, our universities, our workforce, our churches.

When we marginalise

It is important for churches in Europe to be alert to the possibility of marginalisation wherever there may be imbalances of power. Three examples will illustrate the point.
Firstly, Harvey Kwiyani has sensitively raised the question of whether non-Western missionaries are being marginalised in the West, including Europe.8 The danger being that Western attitudes, assumptions and unacknowledged prejudices may lead to non-Western missionaries being seen as inferior to Westerners; or seen as equal but lacking equivalent resources and influence and being disregarded as a result.

Secondly, at missions conferences, training colleges and so on, are minority European voices being heard? Do Eastern Europeans have as much influence as Western Europeans in these circumstances? We need to reconsider who is setting the agenda for European mission.

And thirdly, are some missiologies or missiological approaches themselves being marginalized within Europe – whether liberationist, feminist, Pentecostal (or non-Pentecostals) or other? So even within missionary and missiological circles, we may find marginalisation occurring.

Where does this leave us? Ironically, there has been talk in recent years of Europe itself being marginalised, as other countries, including China and India, develop economically and assert themselves politically.
But whatever the international status of Europe, its churches and its Christians would do well to simply follow the example of Jesus Christ and his approach to power and to those isolated or excluded by it: the Jesus who ministered to the poor, the sick, the maligned and the oppressed, and challenged his disciples to do likewise; the Jesus who died among the despised, rejected and forsaken; the risen Lord who sent – and continues to send – his followers “to the margins (ends) of the earth” that all might be invited in.

Chris Ducker is Lecturer in Mission at Redcliffe College, Gloucester.

Endnotes
1. Joseph Prabhakar Dayam, “Postscript: Mission at, with and from the margins – A missiology of the cross” in Jesudason et al (eds., 2014) Mission At and From the Margins: Patterns, Protagonists and Perspectives (Oxford: Regnum Books), p.262.
2. Miguel de la Torre (2014) Doing Christian Ethics from the Margins, 2nd edition (Maryknoll: Orbis).
3. Genevieve Mwayuli and Misia Kadenyi (2009) “Environmental Justice for Peace and Development: A Biblical Perspective”, African Ecclesial Review 51:4, p.533.
4. Matthias Wenk (2009) “Reconciliation and Renunciation of Status as God’s final aim for Humanity: New Testament Thoughts on the Church’s Mission and Unity”, p.5. Wenk notes that this radical inclusiveness “also prompted conflict and schism with those that did not share his vision.”
5. Emma Wild-Wood and Peniel Rajkumar (eds., 2013) Foundations for Mission (Oxford: Regnum Books), p.240.
6. WCC (2012) Together Towards Life: Mission and Evangelism in Changing Landscapes, p.107.
7. Ibid, p38.
8. Harvey Kwiyani (2012) “Power in Mission,” Journal of Mission Practice No.2, Autumn 2012.

 

Mission at the Margins

Posted July 7, 2018 by europeanmission
Categories: Uncategorized

In ‘How the Irish saved Civilization’, Thomas Cahill tells how the Gospel transformed a wild outpost on the margins of the Roman Empire into a land of ‘saints and scholars’. The Irish church kept the story of the Gospel alive as the Empire disintegrated, and the Celtic ‘White Monks’ would one day in turn, bring back to Europe the learning lost after the fall of Rome. Over half of all biblical commentaries written between 650 and 850 were by Irishmen, and Irish missionaries reached as far as Moldova by the end of the eighth century.

marginsThis edition of Vista explores some of the margins where mission in Europe is taking place, out of the limelight and away from the centres of ‘power’, just as Ireland was sixteen centuries ago. The stories we feature are small, local and personal; a tiny proportion of what is happening. Each focuses on a specific group of people at the edge of society, whether the Roma in Bulgaria and the UK, girls trafficked for sex in France, asylum seekers and refugees in Gloucester or the LGBT community, And as Rik Lubbers’ article highlights, for many of us, just being a Christian in Europe means you are automatically on the ‘margin’.

A margin is also a ‘liminal space’ where there is a sense of stepping beyond the known and certain. As editors we recognise that some of the margins explored by the writers in this issue of Vista may step beyond what you are comfortable with, both missiologically and theologically. We offer them to you for reflection and consideration.

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Muslims in Europe and the response of the Church

Posted May 24, 2018 by europeanmission
Categories: Uncategorized

How should the church in Europe respond to the growing visible presence of Muslims in our continent? I suggest in a fourfold way, with i. a compassionate heart; ii. an informed mind; iii. an involved hand; and iv. a witnessing tongue. Nevertheless, before we seek to touch the hearts of our Muslim friends with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we need to honestly look at our own hearts.

Fear of Eurabia and its consequences
443px-Islam_in_Europe_by_PercentageThe growing visible presence of Muslims in Europe is a cause of concern to many Europeans, including Christians. There are many people across Europe who fear the Islamization of Europe. They believe that Islam is considered a problem or an obstacle to modernization and point out that the tense relationship between Islam and Europe is a clash of civilizations. Others state that Islam is hostile to and incompatible with the values of the western world and argue that key European values, e.g. secularism, freedom of speech and security, are threatened by the presence of Muslims in Europe.

Some write that the presence of a substantial number of Muslims in Europe is a deliberate strategy to make sure that Muslims will form a demographic majority within a few generations, in order to impose their shari’a law on this continent.

Islam’s progress in establishing itself in Europe continues to be a difficult phenomenon to accept. European societies essentially have a negative response to the growing visibility of Islam in their midst. An Islamophobic attitude continues to remain strong in Europe and is expressed in public with increasing frequency. Islamophobic attitudes can also be found among Christians and who seem to be moulded by the societies in which they live.

These negative sentiments have several consequences. Firstly, it leads to a marginalization, discrimination, and exclusion of Muslims in finding housing, jobs or internships; and secondly it contributes to growing xenophobia and resurgent nationalism.

Unfortunately, often Churches and Christians share the negative sentiment that permeates the societies they are part of. This might be one of the reasons why many of them are not interested to look more closely at what actually takes place within the Muslim communities across Europe.

Phases of Relations between Islam and Europe
When we look at the relationship between Islam and Europe in history, we can identify several phases. A long first phase, lasting for at least the first ten centuries of the history of Islam, was one of major conflicts, symbolized by the Crusades. The second phase can be seen historic waves of Islam in Europe that have left an imprint on Europe till the present day, such as: the Islamic civilization in Iberia, the Muslim Tatars in the northern Slav regions; the Ottoman Empire. In the third phase, we see European dominance of Islamic lands, through colonialism and economic globalization. In the fourth phase, beginning in the 1950s and 1960s Islam began to spread in Europe through migration of first-generation immigrants coming from former colonies and labour migrants in response to European demand. In the fifth phase we see an increasing indigenization of Islam in Europe. The result of this is the formation of a European Islam, with its own pronounced identity different from that of Arabic Islam or that of coGenerally speaking Muslims in Europe are urbanized, young, economically less well off and diverse.

The number of Muslims in Europe is expected to continue to grow from about 44 million now (6% of the population) to 58 million by 2030 (8% of the population). Depending on future migration, the number of Muslims in Europe in 2050 might be as high as 75 million (14% of the total population).

It is important to be careful in using demographical statistics. Statistics often do not give any indication of the religious commitment, beliefs and practices of a person. Some believe that only a third of all Muslims in Europe actively practice their Islamic faith.

Gradual Europeanization of Muslim theology and practices
I see several changes taking place within Islam in Europe.

Regarding structure I see an institutionalizing of Islam in Europe with the establishment of National Islamic Councils; the emergence of Muslim political and civic leaders; the formation of organizations, such as associations, schools, mosques; the westernization of mosques and the democratization of religious authority, where ‘cyber imams’ compete with mosque imams.

This institutionalization of Islam in Europe is a complex issue and not completed. Governments in North Africa, Turkey and Middle East are still a highly influential force on Islam in Europe. There are still a large number of mosques that are foreign-run and foreign-staffed. There is still a big need to educate imams in Europe and to develop domestic sources of financing for Islamic institutions.

Regarding practice, I see an individualization of Islamic religious beliefs and practices. It is an Islam where the believer decides autonomously which elements of Islam (s)he considers to be binding or not. The individualization expresses itself in the following ways: the development of an Islamic Youth Culture; decreasing influence of traditional law schools; the development of European Fatwahs; the organization of slaughter during the feast of sacrifice and growing diversity in religious practice and convictions among Muslims.

The outcome of this individualization of Islamic faith and practices does not automatically mean a decline in religious practice, nor a liberalization of Islam, although some of this is happening. It sometimes leads to a critical attitude among second-generation Muslims towards the Islam of their parents and religious authority. Some break away from the Islamic culture of their parents in search of pure Islam.

Regarding theology, I see the development of a new hermeneutics of interpretation of the Qur’an and Sunnah, particularly in the writings of four renowned Muslim reformers, based in Europe: Bassam Tibi, Tariq Ramadan, Tareq Oubrou, and Abdennour Bidar. These four are all contributing to the idea of a European Islam. Other theologically inspired developments I see are: A desire for gender equality, expressed by Muslim female theologians who explain, define and redefine several key concepts of Islam. Changes in the ways shariah is being interpreted. Changes in how the law of apostacy is being interpreted. Discussion about the legal conditions connected to minority status in Europe.

A growing number of Muslim scholars in Europe believe that European Islam is possible, both theologically and politically. But we have to understand that it is not yet an existing fact, but an ongoing process. In their understanding, such a European Islam integrates modernity values and links them with the divine. It preserves the divine in its modernity.

The response of the Church: bystander, follower or trendsetter?
The presence of Islam in Europe should be high on the agenda of the Church in Europe. What happens to Europe and Islam is not something that the Church can ignore. We cannot afford to be a bystander when Europe and Islam sort out their future together. Nor, should we be following the mindset of Europeans at large. Instead of agents of change and transformation in a society estranged from God, many European Christians mimic its sentiments towards Muslims. I believe we should speak of and with Muslims with attitudes that are influenced by the way God deals with us. Our thinking, attitude, behavior with regard to Islam in Europe should be guided by God’s self-giving love manifested at the cross of Golgotha. I suggest that Churches and Christians across Europe respond to the presence of Muslims in Europe with: a) a compassionate heart; b) an informed mind; c) an involved hand; d) a witnessing tongue.

The Church can shape the future of Islam in Europe when we are willing to untries of origin. This can be considered the sixth phase.

Today, most European countries find themselves somewhere between the fourth and fifth phases and in some countries we see the development of the sixth phase. I see three trends among Muslims in Europe, namely i. immigrants have become citizens; ii. Islam is being revitalized in the Balkans and Russia; iii. Islam in Europe is not a monolithic entity but expresses itself in a variety of ways. reflect the truth, the glory and attitude of God in the way we relate to Muslims in our midst.

Dr Bert de Ruiter
Bert is a Christian-Muslim relations consultant with OM and the EEA, and has been involved in Christian-Muslim relations in Europe for over 30 years. He has a DMin in Christian-Muslim relations and has authored two books: A Single Hand Cannot Applaud (on evangelizing Muslims) and Sharing Lives (on how Christians can overcome their fears of Islam and engage with Muslims). He also edited the book Engaging with Muslims in Europe.

Read the rest of Vista 29 here