EUROPE

GoLife Church Launch

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On Sunday, September 2, 2012, GoLife Church was launched in Gothenburg, Sweden! With nearly 100 people showing up to the Bio Capitol Theatre for the launch, it was a huge success!

Thomas and Ann-Margreth Jonsson have been dreaming about reaching Gothenburg City through a new vibrant and relevant Local church for a couple of years. After 10 months of vision nights, prayer meetings and putting together a committed launch team, that has now come into reality!

Gothenburg City will forever be changed by the tidal wave that has begun in and through this church that was launched in a strategic location in Scandinavia. The possibilities of the far-reaching impact of GoLife Church are beyond what any of us can hope for or imagine!

Please keep Thomas and Ann-Margreth, their core team and GoLife Church in your prayers! The Kingdom of Heaven is advancing across Europe!

Persevering and Overcoming

I am now home from a fabulous two-week trip with my mom to London and France! And France far exceeded all my expectations! :) The people were so warm, the food was phenomenal, the smells of spring were incredible and it was simply beautiful.  We were able to visit Calais and Arras with two friends of ours and had such a wonderful time.  I look forward to being able to go back some day! ;) And London was London. How can you not love London?!  Even though it literally rained every day we  were there, London did not disappoint.  The Colour Conference was fantastic! It was so inspiring to worship with more than 5,000 women in a nearly packed out Wimbley Arena, listen to dynamic speakers from around the world and hear stories of how countless lives are being impacted all over the globe by people who value the life of "the other".

After arriving home Friday evening and having dinner with dad to catch him up on all our travels, I woke up early Saturday morning for the Strides for Sara 5+K that a handful of us had organized in memory of Sara and to continue to raise support for the Tiedeman Recovery Fund.  The event could not have been more successful! Despite the gloomy weather (it must have followed me home from London), we had nearly 200 participants and had a surprise visitor: Chris!

Three weeks ago, I saw Chris sitting in a wheel chair only being able to walk about 20 feet down a hallway with assistance.  Now, just three weeks later, I watched him walk all over the race grounds that we were at!

Chris walking framed

Chris walking framed

There's also a great short video on my facebook wall of him actually walking! Check it out if you have time.

It still takes a lot of concentration for Chris to be able to walk and he has to keep his mind focused on it.  There will come a day soon though when it will be as natural again as breathing.  The perseverance that he has shown blows my mind.  For what once was a natural thing that he never had to really think about doing, is now something he's having to intentionally re-learn how to do in the midst of a time of grieving.  Every day he puts his mind to practicing walking so that he can get stronger and overcome this current obstacle.

It's not unlike life.  Suddenly, circumstances change, tragedies occur, bad decisions were made, and what we were once able to do without much thought is suddenly a challenge.  And unless we face the challenge with perseverance and decide to intentionally work at it and set our mind to it, we could be overcome by it.  But when we allow that to happen, we lose, and not just us, but those around us, and really the world in which we live.  When we aren't fully alive, everyone loses.  It doesn't have to be that way though.  While it may take setting our mind to it and persevering, we too can be overcomers, especially with the help of God.  Our Maker and Creator longs to see each of us living out our full potential, despite the obstacles that we face in this very imperfect world where evil, hurt and disappointment all too often get the best of us because we allow them to.  Until that day, may we persevere just like Chris!

Don't Stop Dreaming

A dream come true.  For those of us who grew up in the U.S., we all began studying a second language by 7th grade.  For me, that was French.  And ever since we sang the French version of "Singing in the Fain" during French class, I've wanted to go to France.  Now why that song made me want to go to France, I have no idea.  But, it did.  Perhaps it was the actions that went along with the song. :) Today, my mom and I are getting on a plane bound for London!  It's been almost 10 years since we were there last.  The last time we were there was part of our family vacation of tracing our roots.  We went to Sweden to visit some of my dad's cousins who still live there (his grandpa came to Minnesota and started a farm in the Alexandria area, and his grandpa's  brother stayed home in Sweden).  Then it was off to the UK to visit Sterling, Scotland, where my mom's grandma was from.  And while in the UK, we stopped in London as well.

So, we are off again to return to London.  This time to attend Hillsong's Colour Conference with thousands of other women at Wembley Arena.  AND to travel to France with some dear friends of ours!  Finally, after dreaming of going to France for the past 20 years, I will get to go. :)

Dreams are a funny thing.  It wasn't until a trip to France was an option during this trip to London, that I remembered that I'd wanted to go to France since I was 12.  I had just kind of forgotten about it and hadn't done anything to pursue it.  Then suddenly, a door opened up and I was able to go, just like that. :)

I remember when I was freshman in college and I had come to the place where I was able to forgive my biological father and finally love him after a life-time of hating him (he was an angry drunk and an absent father).  I remember wanting to visit him before he died, for by then, he was homeless and living on the streets of Houston, TX (somehow I just knew he would die young).  A couple of years went by and I had forgotten about this dream.  Then, one night when I got a call from my mom telling me he was in the hospital and not doing well.  The next day, I was sitting at his bedside telling him all the things I'd dreamed of being able to say to him.  He passed away later that week, but not before my dream came true.

I wonder what other dreams I have forgotten about?  I'm sure there will be more that will come to pass without me having to seemingly do anything about them.  But what if I was more intentional about pursuing my dreams?  What if instead of just letting them be a thought that comes and goes, I wrote more of them down, and prayed about them, and started doing something about them?  What if dreaming became more of a part of my daily thinking?  What if there's more to life than just waiting for it to happen to us?  Here's to more dreaming!  And more dreams coming true!  See you the other side of France! :)

God's Response

Since the beginning, God’s desire has been that we would experience the same kind of life on earth as in heaven, in and through our relationship with God and our relationships with one another.  Jesus said in John 10:10, “I came that they may have life and life to the full.”  He was talking about our lives today, on earth. When Jesus was about to die, He said that it was better for Him to go away so that He could send the Holy Spirit who would live inside of everyone who believed in Him so that they could carry on the work that He started of establishing the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.  2 Corinthians 5:20 says that, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.”

When Jesus lived on earth, He spent His time giving life to people, helping them connect with God in a personal way, freeing them from hopeless situations, healing them of their diseases and casting out evil spirits.  Jesus spent His life freeing people of everything that kept them from experiencing the fullness of heaven while on earth.  He is the definition of life, of hope.

God’s plan is that the Church would literally continue to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth today just as Jesus did.  Imagine what life might be like if everyone in the world had the opportunity to experience the power of a relevant and real God in their life through life-giving churches worthy of their cities!  This is God's desire.

State of the Church in Europe

The continent which boasts some of the worlds most beautiful cathedrals, now is one of the spiritually darkest regions on the planet.  In the past 30 years in Germany, the percentage of people who believe in God has dropped from 72% to 43%.  In the Czech Republic, only 30% of people believe in God.  So 2 out of every 3 people you meet in the Czech Republic don’t believe in God.  And only 15-20% of Europeans would say that God is an important part of their life. In college, I got to live and study in Copenhagen, Denmark.  It’s one of my favorite places in the world!  Only 9% of Danes believe religion (of any kind) is important – 1 in 10 people.  When it comes to actually going to church, in 2008, 14% of Europeans attended church weekly.  In Germany, only 6% of people go to church on a weekly basis.

Back in 1980, 23% of Europeans said they had a great deal of confidence in the church (so, at most, 1 in every 4 people you met), but by 2008, only 11% of people had any confidence whatsoever in the church.

Europe’s cathedrals used to be packed out!  They were not simply built so big to God's glory, they made them so big so that everyone could fit in them.  But today, most of them literally stand empty and a lot of them have even been sold and turned into businesses, schools and stores.

Did you know that hospitals were started in Europe by Christians?  At one time in history, Christians were the only people willing to care for the sick and poor, even, and especially, during the bubonic plague.  Today in Europe, there are countless people who truly do not know a single Christian...