There is a reason that it has been a few days since my last update. Actually, there are a two. First, it has been very hectic. There has been a lot to do, and we have accomplished our objectives, by and large. That's not the main reason. Really, I am just speechless. Words fail to describe the spiritual bleakness.
I told Ethan on our second or third full day that I needed to go back around to each of the churches where we have presented and present again. While I knew the situation was bad, and I did my best to convey that, I failed to communicate how bad it really is. First, I underestimated the "unreached-ness". Second, now that I have a better understanding, I have absolutely no idea how to communicate that.
A Southern Baptist missionary told us---I've not had time to fact check yet---that Slovenia now ranks as the 14th least evangelized country per capita. By the same metric (ratio rather than raw numbers), there are more born again believers in Iran and Iraq than Slovenia. Once again per capita, there are more believers in Saudi Arabia than our small Central European country.
Many have come to Slovenia to start churches. Few have started churches. It is tough and slow. The few Slovene believers here are under siege by a false prosperity gospel on one side and legalism on the other. By legalism, I am not talking about having standards, but the sort of legalism that in other European countries has led to a false gospel of works salvation. Personality conflicts, decades (if not centuries) of persecution, and cultural strongholds are all rampant.
I have from time to time had pessimists in America joke when I have given them the statistics that their town or city might be just as bad. Can I be frank? That's stupid. At best. There is not a corner of America that is in the shape that Slovenia. There are few places in the world where your chance of hearing and believing the Gospel are less.
Here some perspective for you. Vermont is the least evangelical state in the country. We all agree that it needs church planters. If you are a Vermonter, you are twenty times more likely to be born again than if you were a Slovene. That is not twenty percent; that is twenty times. Let's not even talk the Bible Belt...even with conservative numbers.
So what do we need?
- More believers to give their life to take the Gospel to Slovenia.
- More churches to decide that praying for Slovenia is not going to be tacked onto their prayer list but a focused, determined, fervent purpose for their life.
- More churches to partner with us financially, so we can move there and get started.