The general assembly of the European Evangelical Alliance (EEA) and the European Evangelical Missionary Alliance (EEMA) recently launched the Polish Evangelical Alliance's (PEA) “Year of Evangelical Christians in Poland,” with a firm belief that there is still great hope for Christianity in Europe.
''We all have a sense that our spiritually-dark continent is experiencing more signs of light than many of us had realized,'' said Gordon Showell-Rogers, general secretary of the EEA. ''In our largely secularized continent, I have been encouraged to hear more fresh stories of God at work through one another.''
The weeklong conference of the EEA and the EEMA opened in Warsaw, Poland on 17 October 2006 with an address by European Union Polish commissioner, Dr. Danuta Hueber, and an introduction to the small evangelical community in the majority Roman Catholic nation.
According to Wladislaw Dwulat, general secretary of PEA, there are about forty thousand evangelicals and 180 evangelical missionaries in a country of more than forty million.
''We probably have the lowest number of evangelical missionaries of any country in the world,'' said Dwulat. ''We need to move the 10/40 Window higher up, because we are in need of missionaries from the East and the West to present Christ in the best ways possible.''
However, on the final evening Dwulat told the European leaders that such statistics can change with the launch of the ''Year of Evangelical Christians in Poland,” a series of initiatives that strive to raise awareness of the evangelical community within the country and strengthen the connection between churches, Christians and mission agencies. ''I believe big changes will take place in Poland because of your prayers,'' stressed Dwulat.
In addition to the focus on Poland, the general assemblies featured business sessions, open seminars on the missional Church, interactive dialogues on youth leadership, the presentation of Hope awards and Bible readings by Ajith Fernando, national director of Youth for Christ in Sri Lanka.
Each morning Fernando stressed the conference's theme, ''Fanning the Flame: Rekindling Passion for Christ.'' According to Showell-Rogers, true spiritual power flows from suffering; this understanding, he said, can help European evangelicals in their own contexts.
''We were once more challenged, stimulated and refreshed by Bible teaching from a Christian leader from the Majority World,'' added Showell-Rogers. ''We have a lot to learn from the ways Christians in Asia, Africa and Latin America grow under pressure. In the EEA region, Christians face various religious liberty and social pressures: it's very hard to be a Christian in Turkey or Kazakhstan, and it is not easy being an evangelical in Belgium, Serbia or Italy.''
In that context, conference attendants offered special prayers for Belarus, where two hundred evangelicals are conducting a hunger-strike against the government's forced seizure of a Christian church. ''Belarus is the most extreme case of human rights violations in Europe. We stand with all the people of Belarus, and pray for the country as a whole,'' emphasized Showell-Rogers.
He continued, ''The assembly has focused on rekindling our passion for Christ and bringing real hope to our spiritually-hopeless continent. We are convinced that the living Christ can once more shape the whole region for good as his children serve him together.''