TED NEWS NETWORK ® ann logo

The official news service of the Trans-European Division of the Seventh-day Adventist church

News

 

30 August 2019 | Reykjavik, Iceland [Eric Louw] 

“As the planning began to take shape and focus on Iceland, I didn’t like the idea at all.” Eric Louw, VP of Communications for Generation Youth for Christ [GYC], shares a very personal report of his life-changing experience during a very different mission trip to the highly secular nation of Iceland, a country of some 330,000 people where only a few hundred are connected to the Adventist Church:

For decades, mission has been viewed as a largely human endeavour with three simple ingredients: come up with a plan, enter a target country, and then execute the plan.

But what would mission look like as a primarily divine endeavour?

What would it look like to do something so simple and yet so full of faith and trust in God that it might seem radical and insane?

This is exactly what the GYC mission to Iceland during August 2019 was all about.

Two years ago the trip was just a crazy idea among those of us on the GYC Executive Committee. We had all seen people reach small towns and even cities through literature programmes and public evangelism. Still, we asked the question: if we could do anything for God, what might we attempt to do? A town or city seemed like an achievable goal. But why not try to reach a whole country? As we further discussed our crazy idea, Iceland soon stood out as a country that could conceivably be reached by a group of 50-100 people.

Iceland Group Photo1The GYC group posed on the steps of Hlíðardalsskóli. [Photo credits: GYC communications]Setup for failure or for God to work a miricle?

I have a confession! As the planning began to take shape and focus on Iceland, I didn’t like the idea at all. Iceland is a country sometimes associated with a secular, humanistic culture and a very small Adventist presence. In my mind, it made more business sense to build success into the equation by selecting a country that would be more receptive and open, or at least one with a strong Adventist presence that could provide plenty of enthusiastic support. Attempting to reach Iceland felt like a setup for failure.

Despite my reservations, planning went ahead! We did recognise that the traditional goal of distributing flyers and conducting public evangelism might not be the most effective use of our time and energy. However, although we knew what we wouldn’t do, we weren’t sure what we should do. After all, the people of Iceland don’t appear to have many needs – the standard of living is high and services like healthcare are freely available.

This is when I believe God struck us with a simple, yet profound idea. We would just go to pray. Person by person, street by street, town by town.

The mission trip was now only a few months away and by this time those of us who were going needed to start organising flights. The problem was, I didn’t covet the work I knew it would take even though I had said I would go. The difficult process of applying for a Schengen visa was not encouraging. I’m a South African citizen so this required a lot of work.

When I discovered that the consulate I needed to go to for the visa interview was completely booked out, I was a little relieved, yet conflicted. With some reluctance and a sense of obligation, I prayed God would make an opening for me if He saw fit. I told Him I would only go if an appointment became available within the next three days.

IcelandDriveViewFirst day: nothing.
Second day: nothing.
Third day: nothing.

Phew! What a relief.

And then, right before I went to bed that night, God impressed me to check one last time. With even greater reluctance than before, I pulled up the page for the consulate and there it was: a dreaded green availability slot… for the very next business day.

I wasn’t thrilled, but I knew that since God had clearly set me up here there was no point following in Jonah’s footsteps. So I planned for the best and God began the miracles!

Arrival

The day finally arrived for the mission trip to begin. No sooner had we landed in Iceland then we discovered that we were over capacity for the building our team of about 50 people was supposed to stay in, Hlíðardalsskóli, the former Adventist boarding school that now serves as a hostel and conference centre.

As quickly as the problem arose it was resolved. Another large group of people who had made a reservation long before us failed to show up. A second building on the campus was available. From our perspective, God caused an entire group of people to vanish and not show up just so we could use the needed space for our missionaries. Wow! With God working overtime so soon into the mission trip I was really glad I hadn’t stayed behind.

Over the next few days, there were numerous difficult circumstances that God resolved for us in direct answer to prayer. Each day, we would come together in the morning and evening for up to an hour of united prayer. Through these times, God drew us together in a way that we had never experienced before. But the power of prayer became especially apparent to all of us as we began to go out into the community. Although many stories could be shared from the 10-day trip, here are just a couple of experiences from our team members.
Melting Iceland CoverThe whole mission adventure was bathed in prayer - morning and evening and at each home.
Joreper Alatiit

“I was in a spiritual crisis before this trip. No one in my family goes to church anymore and it sometimes annoyed me that they would tell me to go on a mission trip to help my spirituality as if they had a good spiritual life of their own. One day I was browsing on social media when I saw a story about a mission trip opportunity in Iceland: the number one place on my bucket list. It sparked my interest because it was like hitting two birds with one stone. I could go on a mission trip like my family always wanted me to and it would be at the destination of my dreams!

Once the mission trip began, however, I began to regret that I was there. Listening to the testimonies of others made me feel worse. Why couldn’t I be as good as them? Some nights I just sulked and wanted to give up.
One morning, however, Jonathan Walter talked about how we shouldn’t be discouraged if others are good at outreach and we are not because we were all called to Iceland for a reason. Of all the people who could have gone, we were chosen. That day I felt positive and even began singing ‘Walking with Jesus.’

Everything was just like previous days until I was dropped off at my last territory. It consisted of huge apartment-like buildings. After distributing GLOW at the first big apartment complex, I moved to the next one which accounted for almost 30% of my total territory. It didn’t look like an apartment on the inside but instead seemed to be a hospital. I didn’t know how to reach the people there but I was bothered by the thought of skipping such a large building.
As I considered what to do, I went to the next apartment building and met a man in the parking lot. We talked for a bit, but he wasn’t interested in prayer. However, he pointed at a woman who was just leaving the apartment building and said: ‘that woman might need your prayers.’ I immediately went up to her and began a conversation.

She shared that her sister had recently died and she was struggling to recover from her loss. I prayed for her and continued to talk only to discover that she was also an Adventist! She wanted to help me with what I was doing so I asked her to help me share GLOW in the large nursing facility. With her help, I was able to get permission from the staff to talk with the patients and share my testimony with them as well as leave GLOW tracts on bulletin boards and activity corners. I’m not sure what plans God has for that nursing facility, but I am still praying for them to this day. I hope my visit will make a change in the patients’ lives and their outlook towards God.”

Eden Carr

IcelandMapsMaps were highlighted to keep track of progress across the island[One day] I was knocking on doors with another girl in our group. We were nearing the end of our last territory, and it was my turn to knock. A lady answered the door, so I shared my quick, little line: ‘Hi! My name is Eden and this is my friend Brittney! We’re with GLOW Iceland. We are Christians that believe in the power of prayer, and we’re wondering if you have any prayer requests that you would like us to pray for?’ The lady looked happy and called her son to join her. ‘Tell him what you told me!’ The lady, Barbara, asked. So I repeated who we are and what we were doing. Her son shared a personal prayer request and then we prayed for him.

After we prayed, Barbara shared that her husband is a Christian pastor. He soon joined us at the front door and asked us who we are with. Upon sharing, he told us that he has a Seventh-day Adventist uncle. The whole family was very excited about what we were doing!

‘We’ve been praying for revival in Iceland!’ he told us. It thrilled my heart! That is exactly why we were there! To pray for revival! What a blessing to know that our work was not in vain. Other Christians in the country are praying for the same thing we are!”

God melts indifference

These two stories are just a sample of the many shared by our team members. I wish I could say I began this trip out of love and a passion for the lost. In reality, I did it because I knew God would use it to melt my indifference.

Iceland leadership teamGavin Anthony (r), together with Iceland Conference and TED leadership, guided and supported the project. Pictured: Back row: TED treasurer and Executive Secretary, Nenad Jepuranović & Audrey Andersson. Front row: IC Treasurer & Executive Secretary, Judel Ditta & Thora Jonsdottir. [Photo: TED]Icelandic Mission president, Gavin Anthony, was an active member of the group and reflected on what he learnt from this mission experience:

“Sometimes it is hard to imagine how we can make a breakthrough in the secular countries of Western Europe, but I think this GYC project in Iceland demonstrated a way forwards. Prayer is such a simple method to address people’s real and present needs in a very non-threatening way, and so many people expressed their appreciation for this. I know this approach was a challenging idea for both the leaders and participants at first, but by the end of the project, everyone had a fresh understanding of the priority of prayer in mission. And as one of the leaders reflected on perhaps an unexpected consequence, united prayer developed unity among our group far quicker than anything we have done in missions before.”

By the time the 10 days were up, 150,000 glow tracts had been distributed and our group of nearly 50 had reached over half the population of the country. With few exceptions, nearly every home, apartment, and person in Reykjavik and the surrounding cities were offered prayer personally or at least received a glow tract if they were not home. We encircled every area we walked in prayer, pleading for God to bring revival and Christian growth to Iceland. We know the best is yet to come.

What is success?

iceland choirSabbath morning music with the GYC choir [Photo: Audrey Andersson]What does success look like when you go to do something as utterly radical as simply praying for a country person by person, street by street, town by town, no strings attached? What does it look like when you literally leave the results with God?

For Iceland, only time and the progression of history’s story will tell, but for those of us who went, life will never be the same again.

We are thankful to the Iceland Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and the Trans-European Division for committing their personal and financial support throughout this trip. Please keep them in prayer as they continue the work in Iceland. We know God has incredible things in store!

Audrey Andersson, TED Executive Secretary met the group during the final weekend of their experience. Despite the nerves highlighted in this report, she was impressed by the enthusiasm of a group who dedicated 10 days to praying for Iceland.

“The difference they made was contagious,” she reported, while enjoying their singing and testimony during an Iceland Day of Fellowship on Sabbath, 17 August. Noting the positive reaction of Icelandic members and leaders to this mission initiative she enthusiastically concluded, “It really showed that prayer does make a difference.”

The original version of this article was first published on the Generation Youth for Christ website. Find out more by following GYC on Social Media or visiting their website.


tedNEWS Staff: Victor Hulbert, editor; Deana Stojković, associate editor
119 St Peter's Street, St Albans, Herts, AL1 3EY, England
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website: www.ted.adventist.org
tedNEWS is an information bulletin issued by the communication department of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Trans-European Division. Readers are free to republish or share this article with appropriate credit including an active hyperlink to the original article.




'