Taking the Gospel to Europe: ‘God’s Plan Is Like a Big Picture, but We Can See Only the Small Puzzle Piece’

LONDON and DUBLIN – Africa was once known as the “Dark Continent,” but Europe may deserve that label now. A majority of African nations today are Christian. A majority of Europeans say they are now either atheist or have “no religion.”

In the past 20 years, church buildings have been shut down by the thousands and put up for sale.

But Europe is being re-evangelized just early European missionaries to Africa and Asia had prayed for back in the 1800s.

Dr. Harvey Kwiyani, professor of African Christianity and Theology at Liverpool Hope University in England, grew up in a Malawi village first evangelized by British missionary David Livingstone.

He says what early missionaries had prayed for something called “the blessed reflex.”

“That there’s going to be a reflex in the future when Christians from Africa from Asia would come back to strengthen British or European Christianity,” he said. 

And today, dynamic Bible-believing immigrant churches can be found in virtually every European capital.

Immigrants Behind Growing Church Attendance 

After years of decline, church attendance in London is finally growing again. But it’s not growing because of traditional churches. It’s growing because of African churches.

“In London, on any given Sunday, over 60% of people who attend church are black Africans going to African Pentecostal churches,” Kwiyani said.

African heritage Britons, just 14 percent of London’s population, now account for over half of the city’s church attendance. 

The ‘New Irish’ Bring Revival to Ireland

After Ireland made a radical turn away from the institutional catholic church to secularism, there is now fresh fire, thanks to Christian immigrants known as “the new Irish.”

Pastor Tunde Oke oversees the Nigerian-based Redeemed Christian Church of God in Ireland, which now has more than 100 churches. 

“The Irish came to Africa many years ago and did so much. They didn’t just bring a religion, they brought a better life…schools, hospitals, and all of that,” Oke said, “and the Africans are bringing it back here. And for us to come back to Ireland and to see Ireland in the state that it is in, it encourages us to do a whole lot more.”

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Ireland’s Two largest Churches are Now Romanian Pentecostal

The harvest has also returned from eastern Europe. The two largest churches in Ireland today are both Romanian Pentecostal. Betania Church outside of Dublin is building a new five and half-million-dollar facility. 

Pastor Valerian Jurjea of Betania admitted that “Nobody came here as a missionary.” But God had a plan for the Romanians who came to Ireland to work.

Betania Pastor Avram Hadarau says, “Our kids, our generation has the potential, and this is our main purpose as a church, to give and prepare and equip and empower and send this young generation to the outside of the church.”

Jurjea said, “God’s plan is like a big picture, but we can see only the small puzzle piece, but it’s God’s plan and God’s way. So, even now, we make history, but we didn’t know we were making history.”

The ‘Great Reflex’ Realized: The Harvest Has Come Back

Pastor Sean Mullarkey of St Marks in Dublin says there are now church plants all over Ireland because of the immigrants, “in little rural towns that could never have been reached if it wasn’t for the fact that God has brought in these people. They’ve become these new Irish.”

And Kwiyani believes this new movement in Europe “will redefine what it means to be a missionary in this century.”

“Somehow God has a sense of humor,” Pastor Oke said, “because now that things are becoming a lot more secular, God is bringing the harvest back to the people who brought Jesus to us.”