While many protests against the influx of migrants and asylum-seekers occur in Ireland near refugee centers in small neighborhoods, recently a larger protest was organized and held in Dublin. Ireland has historically prided itself on its warm welcome to strangers, however, protesters argue that the nation is running out of room to house non-Irish people. Ireland is currently facing both a housing and a homelessness crisis and many are angry that foreigners receive housing priority over citizens. Many also worry that droves of young refugee men are arriving in the country unvetted, leaving the neighborhoods they settle into uncomfortable with their presence. One year ago, the government was housing a total number of 7,500 migrants and refugees; today, that number has climbed to 73,000 with Ukrainians comprising 54,000 and asylum-seekers 19,000. A counter-protest took place in support of migrants with both groups having nearly the same number of participants. The protestors against the influx of migrants deny that racism has any bearing on their position while the counter-protestors state that it is a far-right maneuver to isolate and frighten the refugees.
Prior to the current refugee situation, Ireland’s population was 4.9 million. Of those millions, only 1.5% are evangelical Christians while the majority of the country is Roman Catholic–many in name only. Please pray for the Irish people to be open to the gospel, for church planters to go to this needy nation, and for the peace and love of Jesus Christ to drastically change the hearts of every person there, both Irish and non-Irish.
On Friday, January 13, an explosion occurred in a gas pipeline that runs from Lithuania to Latvia. Fortunately, no one was reported injured. The gas supply was promptly cut off and the fire was put out, however, the damaged pipeline was unusable. The CEO of the gas company stated that another parallel line was unaffected and will be used to supply the same amount to Latvia. The recent Nord Stream Pipeline explosion has caused a major surge in energy prices in Europe, placing further hardships on families already struggling with the cost of living crisis. However, it has been expressed by this gas company that the clients will in no way be affected by this event. There is an in-depth investigation taking place into the explosion but initial reports claim there is no cause to suspect an attack.
Both Lithuania and Latvia suffered greatly under communism and the Soviet Union and the effects are still visible. Both are in need of missionaries and church planters to carry the gospel to the many unreached peoples. In Lithuania, only 1% of the population is evangelical and 1% is completely unreached. Latvia has a higher evangelical population at 7% but an unreached population of 1%. Please pray for workers for these countries and for the citizens to be open to the hope and salvation found in Jesus Christ.
When Poland’s nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party took power in 2015, it began calling for reparations to be paid by Germany for World War II. The most recent effort to begin talks on reparations was in October of 2022 and was quickly dismissed by Germany, with the foreign minister stating that the issue had already been decided. Poland’s deputy foreign minister claimed that Germany’s response showed disrespect for Poles. The estimated devastation caused to Poland was approximately $1.4 trillion, however, in 1953 Poland’s government declined all rights to claim reparations. Only when PiS took power in 2015 did the issue of reparations become a major talking point and a political platform spurring the constituents towards nationalism.
Both Poland and Germany are in need of church planters and missionaries to share with the citizens the hope and peace found in Jesus Christ. Germany is a multicultural nation with large numbers of immigrants, and Poland is recovering from years of poverty under communism. In Germany, 2% of the population is evangelical while in Poland the percentage is 0.3. The unreached in Poland is 1% and in Germany is 4%. What unites both countries is the fact the God loves each and every individual and cares about their wellbeing in this life and the next. Please pray for more workers to take the gospel to the people of Poland and Germany.
In November of 2022, Mette Frederiksen won a second term as Danish prime minister. Just one month later in December, she faced severe backlash for proposing to cancel a national holiday. The holiday in question is Great Prayer Day, established over 300 years ago and held the fourth Friday after Easter. Frederiksen and her supporters expressed concern that the military budget needed bolstering due to the war in Ukraine. By ending Great Prayer Day and shops remaining open, Frederiksen stated that the added revenue from taxes would provide the funds. However, many citizens and political opponents argue that the money generated that day would go into the general fund and would not be earmarked for the military. Opponents also stated that many people would either continue to observe the day or choose to work, not necessarily shopping and providing revenue. Understandably, many worry that a precedent would be set that should the government have another deficit, other national holidays would be canceled.
Denmark is traditionally Christian, however, some reports estimate over 50% of the modern population is atheist or agnostic. While 3% is evangelical Christian, 4% of the population is completely unreached. Denmark is a relatively small country with a population of 5.8 million people–many of whom are immigrants. These immigrants may be open to the gospel, but need someone to share it with them. There is a great need for missionaries and church planters to reach not only the Danes but also the many minorities. Please be in prayer that God would send someone to share His love with the people of Denmark.
On Christmas Day, an avalanche at a ski resort in Austria resulted in the injury of four people. One of the injured had been buried in the snow and required immediate medical attention. The avalanche occurred on the Trittkopf mountain around 3 p.m. on Sunday the 25th. Immediately after the incident, helicopters and search teams were deployed with approximately 200 people involved in the search. Just before 1 a.m. on the 26th, authorities announced that all missing people had been accounted for and no one was fatally injured. Not considered a dangerous sport, skiing-related deaths are estimated to be 1 in 1.4 million and avalanches killed around 150 people per year. While enjoying their holiday at the ski resort, it is doubtful that any of the avalanche survivors thought that they would end Christmas Day in such a frightful way. What the skiers experienced is a good reminder of the brevity and fragility of life. May we Christians live every day to bring glory to God and share His love with those around us.
While a predominantly Roman Catholic country, many Austrians are leaving the Catholic Church due to various scandals and the church’s tax on income. Evangelical Christianity comprises 0.5% of the population and the most growth occurs within this branch of Christianity. More missionaries are needed to start churches and reach the population of 9 million people. Please be in prayer for the Christians already working in this area and for others to join them.
As Christmas is just around the corner, people around the world are filled with the excitement of the season. In North Macedonia, however, that excitement has been replaced with fear. On December 16, the main airport, a shopping mall, schools, and hotels received personal bomb threats. Not the first, these threats were the most recent with others going back over two months. Since October, 193 institutions have been threatened and subsequently searched by anti-terrorism police. In every instance, no bombs were found. Each threat creates fear and, as in the case of the airport, widespread inconvenience. While no bombs have actually been planted, by definition this is certainly an act of terrorism.
In North Macedonia, evangelical Christians are very much in the minority with only .2%. The unreached population is larger at 15%. North Macedonia is a very ethnically divided nation and the economic problems are severe enough that many people are forced to leave the country and find employment elsewhere. Churches are needed to actively spread the gospel and reach the unreached. What a wonderful Christmas it would be if many North Macedonians were able to hear about the true meaning of Christmas and of the joy to be had in knowing Jesus.