The bodies were black, brown and yellow, with a sprinkling of palefaces, jammed into the conference room at De Poort in Amsterdam last week. On the big screen more black-brown-yellow faces sang, clapped, danced, prayed and communicated from the distance of thousands of miles via a GENESIS link-up with Kona, South Africa, Lausanne, Sweden …
What was underway was a multi-media conference celebrating the role of two-thirds’ worlders in YWAM, the inspiration of Venezuelan Armando Benner and South African, Edwin Fillies. Armando is the base leader in Amsterdam and has brought much latin colour to the base there.
For years in YWAM we have been proclaiming the goal of two-thirds of our staff coming from the two-thirds world. We’re not quite there yet but the gap is closing. And not just because of the growth of YWAM in the “non-western” world. More and more two-thirds-worlders are coming to help us in the west.
Here in Europe, it is clear that God is up to something new. He is bringing to Europe people from Asia, Africa and Latin America with gifts we have lost. Gifts of faith for church planting; gifts of boldness in proclamation; gifts of discernment of the spirit of animism, with which they are so familiar. As I’ve reflected on this development, the suspicion has grown that God is sending us these messengers to wake us up out of our Enlightment-induced stupor. Like the proverbial frog who gets cooked alive in water slowly heated up, we Europeans are being gradually accommodated to the daily barrage of post-Christian ‘non-values’. Brothers and sisters coming from the two-thirds world can all too clearly see that Europe is in ‘hot water’.
The name of John Mulinde is on the lips of many German believers these days, as a man with a prophetic message for Germany and Europe. This Ugandan pastor has promoted a prayer movement which has helped turn his calamity-stricken nation around to become the first nation where AIDS is now on the decrease. YWAM Germany veteran Keith Warrington has spent time with Mulinde in Uganda and returned deeply impressed. A Transformations video will soon be released telling more of the Ugandan story. As Mulinde travels through Europe, he releases gifts of faith among Europeans that prayer really changes things.
Surely it is a sign of hope that God is laying Europe on the hearts of Koreans, Africans and Latin Americans for prayer – and action. If we Europeans don’t have the faith for our own continent’s future, these two-third worlders certainly seem to. Argentinians and Brazilians have been arriving in groups to pray for Europe in recent years. Latin Americans have become popular conference speakers teaching from their experience of city-wide revivals. A while ago, I met a Guatemalan heading up a theological seminary in Moscow. Brazilian YWAMers (JUCUMeros) can be found in several European locations from Moscow to Portugal, especially in pioneering situations like Albania and Kosovo.
A few weeks ago in Perm, Russia, I attended a large healing campaign. One of the speakers was a Nigerian, pastor of one of the largest churches in Kiev, the Ukraine – several thousand strong. I heard that the pastor of the largest church in Kiev was also from Nigeria – where, incidently, there are more Anglicans than in both Britain and America (Episcopalians) combined.
Some of the largest churches in Amsterdam are also pastored by Ghanaians and Nigerians – in the Bijlmer district, where, because the city planners designed no church buildings at all, believers gather in the parking garages.
This realisation of something significant God is up to was strengthened through a phone conversation I had last week with Moses. Moses Alagbe, that is, from Africa. He is secretary of a foundation called GATE – Gospel from Africa To Europe. He explained that GATE is holding an all-European conference in Holland to encourage African and Afro-Caribbean evangelists and spiritual leaders to reach the European community with the gospel. Speakers will include John Mulinde and Tokunboh Adeyemo (well-known African evangelical leader Romkje and I happened to meet in the lift at Schiphol the other day). The GATE conference will be held on 9-11 October in Holland. For further information, just e-mail Moses: Moses@alagbe.fol.nl
Also last week, I read that Archie Bunker had died. Well, not Archie, but the guy that played him as an extreme chauvinist in the 60’s-70’s tv sitcom, “All in the family”. Archie couldn’t have coped with these new developments. I suspect there’s been a bit of Archie in many of us white Europeans. May that die in us too.
Till next week,