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Does the European Union benefit world mission?

With the upcoming general election, one of the big issues for all the political parties is the relationship between the UK and the rest of the EU. Is it too expensive? Is it eroding away at our sovereignty? Does Brussels have too much power? Do EU nationals come to the UK to sponge off the state and steal our jobs?

These sort of questions are often flung around on Social Media platforms, in the press and even by political parties as they try to present a solution that appeals to the majority of the electorate. For many people these are big issues and this article does not seek to minimise their concerns or indeed give an answer to any of these questions.

Instead we would like to pose a question of our own. What has the EU done for mission? After all, the concern of every Christian should be to see God’s mission advance. Whether that means evangelising your friends and work colleagues or travelling to another country, every Christian should have a love for the lost.

Let’s start by taking a look at the percentage of evangelicals by continent.

These numbers show a shocking fact about Europe: there are fewer Christians per 100 people in Europe than any other Continent in the world. Europe is a continent where 97.4% of people believe something that is contrary to the core teachings of the Bible. So Europe is one of the biggest mission fields in the entire world with over 580 million people who are not saved. (figures from Joshua Project )

So what has the EU ever done for mission?

1. There is freedom of movement.

Within Europe the UK has the largest Evangelical population, numbering somewhere around 5 million. Thanks to the EU each and every one of those Christians has the freedom to go and live in any of the other 30 countries that make up the European Economic Area, without having to apply for a Visa or having to have a job.

2. There is freedom to move capital around.

Mission agencies, churches and supporters can’t be stopped from directly supporting missionaries as within the EU we have permission to freely move our money around and send it where we like.

3. Increased multiculturalism.

Compared to many parts of the world the European Union is affluent and well educated. With this in mind internationals from many parts of the world come here to study, work or just live. Some of these internationals are from countries where it is difficult for Christians to be open about their faith or where there are very few Christians. Yet God is bringing them into the EU where they have a chance to hear the gospel.

Several of our Missionaries have spoken about the difference of living in their country pre and post that country joining the EU. Before EU entry they had to reapply for their visa every year, perhaps supplying information about how they were supporting themselves, where they lived, or proving they had medical insurance. They would have to do this with the knowledge that a change in the law could mean that this time they would be denied permission to remain. Yet now, none of this is a concern because their country and the UK are both in the EU. By contrast if you are a citizen of a non-EU country (eg US or Canada) it is still very hard to get a visa for some countries in the EU. The information and requirements that they set down can be very taxing for people from other countries and yet we have permission to remain in these countries without any of these issues.

So the EU has actually done quite a lot for mission in Europe! It has paved the way for British missionaries to serve across much of Europe with ease of access that missionaries from the rest of the world would love to have. So, if you are an EU national with such advantages and opportunities, have you considered whether God is calling you to work for his glory in Europe?

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