With the upcoming general election, one of the big issues for all the political parties
is the relationship between the UK and the rest of the EU. Is it too expensive? Is
it eroding away at our sovereignty? Does Brussels have too much power? Do EU nationals
come to the UK to sponge off the state and steal our jobs?
These sort of questions are often flung around on Social Media platforms, in the
press and even by political parties as they try to present a solution that appeals
to the majority of the electorate. For many people these are big issues and this
article does not seek to minimise their concerns or indeed give an answer to any
of these questions.
Instead we would like to pose a question of our own. What has the EU done for mission?
After all, the concern of every Christian should be to see God’s mission advance.
Whether that means evangelising your friends and work colleagues or travelling to
another country, every Christian should have a love for the lost.
Let’s start by taking a look at the percentage of evangelicals by continent.
These numbers show a shocking fact about Europe: there are fewer Christians per 100
people in Europe than any other Continent in the world. Europe is a continent where
97.4% of people believe something that is contrary to the core teachings of the Bible.
So Europe is one of the biggest mission fields in the entire world with over 580
million people who are not saved. (figures from Joshua Project )
So what has the EU ever done for mission?
1. There is freedom of movement.
Within Europe the UK has the largest Evangelical population, numbering somewhere
around 5 million. Thanks to the EU each and every one of those Christians has the
freedom to go and live in any of the other 30 countries that make up the European
Economic Area, without having to apply for a Visa or having to have a job.
2. There is freedom to move capital around.
Mission agencies, churches and supporters can’t be stopped from directly supporting
missionaries as within the EU we have permission to freely move our money around
and send it where we like.
3. Increased multiculturalism.
Compared to many parts of the world the European Union is affluent and well educated.
With this in mind internationals from many parts of the world come here to study,
work or just live. Some of these internationals are from countries where it is difficult
for Christians to be open about their faith or where there are very few Christians.
Yet God is bringing them into the EU where they have a chance to hear the gospel.
Several of our Missionaries have spoken about the difference of living in their country
pre and post that country joining the EU. Before EU entry they had to reapply for
their visa every year, perhaps supplying information about how they were supporting
themselves, where they lived, or proving they had medical insurance. They would have
to do this with the knowledge that a change in the law could mean that this time
they would be denied permission to remain. Yet now, none of this is a concern because
their country and the UK are both in the EU. By contrast if you are a citizen of
a non-EU country (eg US or Canada) it is still very hard to get a visa for some countries
in the EU. The information and requirements that they set down can be very taxing
for people from other countries and yet we have permission to remain in these countries
without any of these issues.
So the EU has actually done quite a lot for mission in Europe! It has paved the way
for British missionaries to serve across much of Europe with ease of access that
missionaries from the rest of the world would love to have. So, if you are an EU
national with such advantages and opportunities, have you considered whether God
is calling you to work for his glory in Europe?