PALS | Europe

Austria

The population in Austria as of 2010 is 8.3 million. Of those, 82% identify themselves as Christians. Austria has a very large Catholic population (64% of of identified Christians), though is spiritually empty, void of knowing Jesus personally. There is a high rate of suicide, alcoholism, and abortion, and “record numbers leave the Church each year” (Operation World by Jason Mandryk). If churches do happen to grow, they face surveillance, intimidation, and obstruction, though it is relatively easy to share the Gospel sensitively. Leaders are severely needed in this country surrounded by tradition, yet lacking in personal faith. People living in rural areas rarely get to encounter the Gospel. There has been an incline in followers for aggressive movements, such as New Age, Eastern religions, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Mormons. The government seeks to restrict religion of all kinds, which is sees as a threat.

Croatia

2010 population: 4.4 million. The Catholic church has a strong presence in Croatia and almost 92% of the population deems themselves as Christians. There is strong, almost harmful, ethnic pride here, which hampers progress in spiritual growth. Hatred between ethnic groups is commonplace. Most pastors have little to none theological training and the churches are outgrowing the number of leaders. Minorities are hardly being reach in Croatia, such as the Istrian Penninsula, Dalmatian Coast, Zagorje, Romani, Albanians, Germans, etc. There is a high unemployment rate among young adults, which has caused widespread godlessness and drug use.

Estonia

Estonia is arguably the least religious country in the entire world. Out of more than 1.3 million people, with a decreasing population, at least 54% say they are non-religious as of 2010 (this continues to increase). Severe persecution of every faith during the Soviet Union’s regime has left deep resentment towards Russia. There is no state religion. “Despite a Protestant heritage, genuine faith in Estonia is rare. Many have limited Christian belief, but very few follow Jesus in any meaningful way. Most of the population need to be re-evangelized. Young people have little to equip them against the predations of post-Christian values, since the traditional Christian confessions are weak and in decline. The Estonian Evangelical Alliance seeks to foster unity in diversity among many denominations through fellowship and prayer events” (Operation World by Jasn Mandryk).

Hungary

Out of over 9.9 million people, almost 88% declare themselves as Christians. “Disillusion, dissatisfaction, and upheaval against the government and economy in particular often characterize life in Hungary” (Operation World by Jason Mandryk). Although Hungary is full of rich theological history, its modern-day citizens have lost touch with God’s Word; alcoholism, materialism, false religion, and hedonism run rampant. Postmodernism is also a sever threat in Hungary. It is illegal for many to share the Gospel in their workplace, and there is a lack of leadership in the country. Hungary also contains the largest concentration of Jews outside Russia, though they are hardly being witnessed to.

Serbia

As of 2010, Serbia had a population of over 7 million. 80% of them consider themselves Christian; 16% Muslim; 3% non-religious. By law, there is freedom of religion, though the Orthodox Church here practices heavy preferential treatment. “The Serbian Orthodox Church seeks to regain great influence over national life – it has suppressed other Orthodox churches serving ethnic minorities (Romanians, Macedonians and Montenegrins) and pushed for a harsh and self-serving religion law that entrenches mono-ethnic religious groups. Pray for new life within this ancient Church, and that it may turn its back on totalitarian instincts and support true religious freedom.” (Operation World, Jason Mandryk) After 45 years of communism, the Balkan Wars left their mark in terrible economy, unstable democracy, and tension with neighboring countries.

United Kingdom

Out of over 62 mission people, only 59% of the population consider themselves Christian. 34% declare themselves non-religious. England in particular lacks a sense of purpose and direction since the decline of the British Empire. Most tabloids hail England as “Broken Britain” because of its social disaster and spiritual decline since the 1960s. “Christianity is increasingly marginalized by a hostile media and public mood” (Operation World by Jason Mandryk). Most of the younger generation is simply disinterested in religion at all, being formed by a growing secular system.