LAST WEEK’S WW ON ENGAGEMENT WITH NEW SPIRITUALITY produced encouraging signs that we may be awakening from deep slumber across the continent to the new realities.
“Thank you for your provoking words,” wrote one fellow YWAMer. “I think you’ve ‘hit’ on something in regards to our YWAM training programs‚Ä¶are we truly aware of the trends in the world and adjusting our training and evangelism accordingly?”
“It is hard to describe how surprised and excited I was when reading your WW about the Evangelism in a new age consultation,” wrote another, a Finn living in Cyprus. Cyprus was filled New Age people, he wrote, one of the main centres being, not surprisingly, Paphos (where Elymas was active in Paul & Barnabas’ days). He was also in touch with YWAMers in Montreal, Canada, who regularly ran booths in New Age fairs. Now in Cyprus, the YWAMers had begun to offer prayer for healing: “I know Jesus is very willing to heal unbelievers!! ” he wrote. “We have seen that happen. Although it doesn’t mean all of them will turn to Him…. We will open this prayer ministry in our YWAM facility in Nicosia, probably advertising and also working with different local churches within the next months.”
Yet another YWAM colleague wrote to say she plans to come to the consultation in Basel after a recent personal encounter with a relative she had never previously met, who taught seminars on how to connect with one’s ‘God consciousness to become free to experience one’s highest potential’. It was hard to follow the vague, spiritual terminology, she wrote, but she and her husband just listened and tried be understanding. Last Monday, she was weeding in the garden asking the Lord for wisdom as to how to share the truth of the Kingdom with her relative, and then opened her computer to discover the WW about the consultation.
The only new information about ministries of this nature in Europe came from Marc van de Woude of the Connect Europe network (www.connecteurope.org), with folk in England, Holland, Germany and Portugal working among new agers and neo-pagans. They are experimenting with “spiritual readings, (prophetically speaking into people’s lives, providing destiny, words of knowledge, etc.), healing (emotionally and physically), and modelling organic church (a Christian community joins the new age festivals and engages with the other ‘tribes’)”.
Marc wrote that he had recently had correspondence with a young Wiccan, a modern witch who had found the Joel News website (www.joelnews.org) that Marc edited, while surfing the web. Since childhood she had been interested in fairytales, herbs and healing minerals. When she was about eleven she decided to become a witch. She borrowed pagan literature from the public library and gained knowledge of tarot, spells and rituals. Marc asked her: “What does your goddess give you that Christianity cannot give you?” Her answer boiled down to: “My goddess confirms me in my identity, my value and my capacities as a woman. Besides, Wicca helps me discover my spirituality and develop my talents.” Those were things she hadn’t found in the church or with Christians.
It’s not only eccentric and gothic girls that call themselves witches, or feminists or vegans, adds Marc. It goes much deeper. The interest in fantasy and symbolism is increasing. It is no coincidence that ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Harry Potter’ are attracting thousands. Esoteric and spiritual festivals like ‘Burning Man'( in the US, or the many fairs across Europe) are becoming part of many people’s search for the meaning of life.
Marc underscores that Wiccans and New Agers are seekers, they are intuitive and creative. To introduce Jesus to them, intuitive and creative Christians are needed, who have learned spiritual discernment and how to receive revelation. Not with the attitude of ‘you are still lost and I am miles further on,’ but ‘we are both looking for deeper fulfilment, and we have found something in Jesus that Wicca and esoteric stuff cannot give you: Real Life.’
A few nights ago, my wife Romkje and I sat at the dinner table with two young couples during our fortnightly marriage course. Somehow the subject drifted around to the children’s book week theme here in Holland: magic. One husband said that this sort of thing was not really very widespread in Holland, compared to England. The other husband then began to tell us about his background before becoming a believer: he had been heavily into druidism, wicca and satanism. He had learned to move glasses through mental or spiritual powers, and had developed extrasensory perception. This was far more widespread than people realised, he asserted, as the rest of us stared in amazement at this respectable young man, who told of the fear he had lived under of the forces of darkness. Through his girlfriend, now his wife, who was a believer, he had been attracted to a church group where he experienced openness of relationships and friendships, and had began to recognise the power of Jesus Christ. Eventually he ended up burning a great pile of books on witchcraft and the occult, standing nervously at a distance still apprehensive about what his former spiritual masters might do to him.
The symbols were everywhere, he said, if you knew what to look for. Even in Holland, he claimed, magic and occultism was more prevalent than imagined.
But you don’t have to be into magic to be attracted to the new spirituality. Next week we’ll look at how western obsession with health has provided all sorts of opportunities for exploration into the new spirituality – and can open many doors for followers of Jesus to offer wholeness and healing.
I hope the message is coming through! Let me warmly encourage you again to join us in Basel at the end of this month, for the Evangelism in a New Age consultation. This will be in the St. Chrischona Conference Centre, initiated by the HOPE FOR EUROPE Evangelism Network, with the support of organisations including Agape, OM, YWAM, Greater Europe Mission, Janz Team International, Proclaim International and others. For information and registration, go to: www.hfe.org/newsandevents/events.php.
Note: we have extended the discount deadline until October 15!
Speakers and contributors include:
· Dr John Drane (Aberdeen, Scotland), New Testament scholar and lecturer, author of ‘What the New Age is (still) saying to the Church’; Faith in a Changing Culture; The Bible Phenomenon, The McDonaldization of the Church and Beyond Predictability: the Tarot and your spirituality (co-author);
· Olive Fleming Drane, (also Aberdeen, Scotland), story-teller, clown and writer, mission networker with the Baptist Union of Scotland, author of Spirituality to Go: rituals and reflections for everyday life; Clowns, storytellers, disciples; Family Fortunes: Faith-full caring for today’s families;
· Dr John Warwick Montgomery (Strassbourg, France) Lutheran theologian and lecturer, author of over 50 books, including Principalities and Powers: the world of the occult;
· Daniel Hari (Adligenswil, Switzerland) Salvation Army Evangelist to new agers, author of Healing Jesus Style/ Heilen wie Jesus – Einf√ºhrung ins Christozentrische Heilen;
· Stefan Dreiss (Manchester, England) Healing evangelist to new agers (ex-football hooligan and medium), author: Finding the light.
Till next week,