A World War of Worldviews
From the French Revolution of 1789 to the collapse of the Iron Curtain in 1989, Europe has been a continent in conflict with the forces of secular humanism, socialism and Marxism waging a war on many fronts - against the Christian heritage and institutions of Europe.
Fruit of the Reformation
From the time of the Reformation, Europe led the world in scientific innovation, industrial development, economic and military power, and political influence - worldwide. All of this grew out of the dynamic spiritual growth of the continent.
Retreat from Victory
However, the dominance of Europe was devastated by the two world wars which crippled its economic development and devastated the spiritual foundations of most of its countries.
The Failure of Socialism
In the East, the communist countries completely failed to achieve the Marxist utopia they had promised, leaving behind polluted ecologies, rusting infrastructures and a devastated work ethic.
Magnet for Migrants
The affluence of the free market countries of Western Europe proved to be a powerful magnet for millions of immigrants from impoverished lands of Africa and Asia.
With the population of Europe severely decimated by the saturation bombing of cities in the Second World War, and by the abortion industry, the demographics of Europe have changed dramatically. Now Muslims are officially more than 6% of the population of Europe and growing at a far greater rate than indigenous Europeans.
MISSION TO BELGIUM
As I flew into Brussels, the crisis confronting Europe was apparent. Belgium became a nation in 1830 as a constitutional monarchy. It has always been deeply divided along linguistic lines. For 2,000 years, Belgium has straddled the cultural divide between the Latin and the Germanic worlds. Rivalries and resentments colour the use of language, the economy, politics, religious life and the worldviews of both the Walloon and the Flemish people.
The growing immigrant population, which has been described as an Islamic invasion, has added an even more volatile third dynamic to the demographics of Belgium.
Belgium may have witnessed more battles and blood spilt on their land than any other country in Western Europe. Once an overwhelmingly Protestant population, Belgium was targeted by the Inquisition and by Spain with such ferocity that over 600 Protestant congregations were destroyed and about half of the population fled north for sanctuary in the Netherlands. To this day the Protestant community in Belgium is an extremely small minority.
Catholicism in Decline
Catholicism today is in rapid decline in Belgium. Less than 48% of Belgium would describe themselves as Catholic in surveys. Nominalism is pervasive and the Catholic Church faces a devastating decline in commitment, a waning influence in society, a severe lack of students in their seminaries and mass defections. Nation wide, less than 7% attend Mass, and in some parts of Flanders, less than 1%.
Over 30% of the population of Belgium now describe themselves as atheist, or non-religious. The rapid secularisation of Belgium has led to some of the worst liberal laws in Europe, violating the sanctity of life and marriage. Widespread recreational drug use, sexual immorality, the occult and new age activities have led to a nation lacking in moral absolutes and ripe for Islamic take over.
The number of Muslim people, mostly from North Africa and Turkey, has continued to increase through both legal, and illegal, immigration. Most Muslims live in the urban areas of Belgium. There are many hundreds of mosques in Belgium and numerous radical groups are demanding the implementation of Shari'a Law in Belgium.
A Strategic International City
Belgium must be one of the most spiritually needy countries in Europe. Brussels is a strategic city with many international organisations, the headquarters of NATO and the European Parliament. Officially 32% of the population of Brussels is foreign, with Moroccans and Turks making up a large percentage. Much of the capital city looks dilapidated and numerous neighbourhoods more resemble ghettos. Numerous Muslim areas are considered No-Go areas for the police.
On my first day in Belgium I spoke at the Arab Evangelical Church in Vilvoorde. This church meets in a 16th century building where English Reformer, William Tyndale, was arrested for his Bible translation work. William Tyndale was imprisoned in Vilvoorde and burned at the stake. My presentation: Remember the Persecuted, included reports on the increasing persecutions of Christians in Egypt, the Nuba Mountains of Sudan and Northern Nigeria.
The next day I had media interviews and testified outside the European Parliament in Brussels. Together with the Council of the European Union and the European Commission, the EP exercises the legislative function of the EU. It has been described as one of the most powerful legislatures in the world. The parliament currently consists of 754 members of the European Parliament, representing the second largest demographic electorate in the world, after the Parliament of India. There were officially 375 million eligible voters in the EU in 2009. However, less than 43% of all European voters turned out for the last EP elections in 2009.
One of the first things I noticed about the EP was the Euro statue which was reminiscent of the communist propaganda statues of Joseph Stalin's time. A very serious looking female worker holding aloft an E, to represent the Euro currency, looked eerily like the many statues I saw behind the Iron Curtain during the Soviet Union - holding aloft, a hammer and sickle. In fact, anyone from a distance, could be forgiven for assuming that it was a hammer and sickle being held up at this Euro monument.
A 36 panel panoramic visual presentation dominated the EP square. Entitled: "Out of the Abyss: How Europeans built peace together - recognising 60 years of making peace in our continent." It was a remarkable demonstration of propaganda, again very reminiscent of the communist propaganda so prominent in the Soviet Union. I carefully took pictures of each of the panels intending to incorporate them into my propaganda lectures.
Censoring Out the Spiritual
The first and most obvious omission from this visual panorama of Europe's history is any reference to God, or Christianity. There is not a cathedral, church, or even a cross depicted. No prayer meetings, no Bibles, no Christian symbols, or events. The European Union can best be described as godless. Most parliaments that I have seen throughout Africa have some Scripture and/or Prayer incorporated in the architecture. The European Parliament is thoroughly secular and humanistic.
The visual history panorama is a demonstration of what Karl Marx declared: "The first battlefield is the re-writing of history." Vladimir Lenin declared that it was even more important than taking away people's firearms, to take away their history. To remove them from an understanding of their past is essential to controlling them in the present and shaping the future in the way desired by the communist party.
One of the first panels was entitled: Hope - Liberation for many, 1944. One is given to asking, why they could not say, Liberation for all? However, the fact is that Europe was immeasurably worse off after WWII than it was before. We often speak about Eastern Europe, but actually the countries betrayed into the bloody hands of dictator Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union were Central Europe, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, East Germany, Checkslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Albania are not Eastern Europe at all. Russia is Eastern Europe. The betrayal of Central and Eastern Europe at the Yalta Agreement is nowhere referred to in this sanitised portrayal of Europe's history.
Another panel depicts: The Depth - War destruction in Warsaw, 1945. However, no panel depicts the vastly worse firebombing destruction of Dresden, Hamburg, Cologne, Berlin, or any of the other more than 60 cities of Germany devastated by 1945.
The Iron Curtain is depicted by a most strange and obscure picture of somebody holding an umbrella on a scaffold. Nothing in the panel conveys the immensity, or the horror, of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain. Similarly, there is no reference to Communism, or Islam, in the panels. No reference to abortion, or portraits of pro-life protestors.
No Communist regimes are described as dictatorships. However, Greece, Portugal and Spain are singled out as the only countries that are described as having had dictatorships in Europe over the last 60 years!
The Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968 are not depicted. Neither are the Leipzig prayer meetings/protests which led to the coming down of the Berlin Wall. For the end of the Cold Wall, some strange picture of a group of people around a graffitied wall is the only image given. One would have thought that Ronald Reagan's speech in front of the Brandenburg gate challenging the Soviet dictator: "Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" would have been most visually impactful and appropriate. However it is not depicted in this EU version of history.
A snowman is depicted with the title - Hard fought freedom: Romanian Revolution, 1989. No people are visible. Nothing in the picture communicates the horrors of communist oppression under Ceausescu, or the intense battles in the streets of Romania to liberate the country from Communism. Nor the Christmas celebrations and public prayer rallies that followed.
Ignoring the Context
A panel declaring - Sealing the peace: UK - Ireland reconciliation, there is no hint of the IRA terrorist campaign, or of the massive prayer gatherings in front of the City Hall in Belfast, or Prayer Vigils on the grounds of Stormont, the Parliament in Northern Ireland.
Another panel declares that the EP is: "Standing up for peace and freedom in the world." That would be nice!
Communist Chaos inthe Congo Concealed
Another panel has a picture of 3 unarmed soldiers with an EU flag like a superman cape and the caption: Working for peace in the world, EUFOR in Congo, 2006. We could ask why the EU needed to work for peace in the world, and how they were actually achieving that. However, the fact is that Belgium betrayed the people of the Congo into the hands of a Marxist mass murderer, Patrice Lumumba in 1960. The UN compounded the problem by invading the pro-Western Katanga Province and forcing it to re-join the Communist chaos of the Congo. However, of course such facts are not allowed to get in the way of the propaganda being depicted at EP.
Another panel declares: Supporting democracy in the world: Election observation. Anyone wanting to do some research on these so-called "free and fair elections" which the EU and UN have endorsed, such as the fraud and farce in Angola and Zimbabwe would be sufficient to explode this deceptive bubble.
Another panel declares: "A prize for all: Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony…" How is a Nobel Peace prize a prize for all? How independent and neutral is such a prize when it can be offered by the US State department for political leaders for doing their bidding? The fact that terrorists such as Yasser Arafat could receive a Nobel Peace prize would seem to make the award worse than meaningless.
Numerous EU posters declare: human rights, freedom, citizens’ rights, justice, liberty and other high-sounding ideals. However, the fact is that the EU does not protect the rights of the most helpless and innocent of all: pre-born babies, from the violence and injustice of abortion. Indeed the EU has sought to bully its members to expand access to abortion, for any reason, through every trimester.
Encroaching on Religious Freedom
Freedom of public religious expression continues to be eroded in Europe as the EU promotes an aggressive secularism. Practising Christians in Europe are being increasingly marginalised and caricatured in the media, in popular culture, and discriminated against by EU governments. Human trafficking has also been documented to be prevalent in many of the countries represented in the EU. All this, despite their own Charter: Article 1: "Human dignity is inviolable. It must be respected and protected." Article 2: "Everyone has the right to life." Article 10: "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion."
MISSION TO THE NETHERLANDS
Following my ministry in Belgium, we drove to the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Netherlands has a glorious history as a Christian nation, in its courageous fight for religious freedom. Once a Spanish possession, the Dutch people, under the leadership of William, the Prince of Orange, freed the country from oppressive Spanish rule and established the Netherlands as one of the most productive nations in the world. The Dutch navy in the 17th century became one of the most powerful in the world, defeating the superpower of Spain and dominating Europe's trade with Asia through its strategic settlement in Cape Town. To this day, the Netherlands has a strong industrial, agricultural and trading economy. It is one of the world's leading exporting nations.
Secularisation and Intolerance
There is officially religious freedom in Holland, but anti-discrimination legislation increasingly threatens Christian liberties and absolutes in the name of tolerance. Fear to speak out stifles the truth and the Netherlands today seems to be mostly a secular society which has turned its back on its Christian past and fallen headlong into extreme decadence. Drugs, deviant lifestyles, prostitution, perversion and abortion are not only tolerated, but in many cases actually promoted by the laws of the land. The Netherlands has legalised euthanasia and is at this time discussing laws to enable even depressed teenagers to request physician assisted suicide! Euthanasia is legal in Belgium, Netherlands, Washington and Oregon.
The tolerance for which the Dutch are famous is becoming strained as many of the Muslim immigrants who have been welcomed, and are sustained on the country's generous welfare programme, are increasingly aggressive in promoting radical Islam and hostility to everything Dutch.
The mainline churches in Holland have succumbed long ago to a deadening liberalism, which has emptied the churches to such an extent that already almost half of their membership are now over the age of 65. In the last 40 years, 1,000 church buildings have been sold and another 300 demolished in the country.
Hunger for Reality
Yet, amidst the secular humanism, materialism and heathenism, many are becoming disillusioned with the emptiness of materialism and self-centeredness. There is a growing spiritual hunger and some are eager to rediscover their Christian roots and reach out with the life transforming Gospel of Christ to their neighbours. My hosts, Christians for Truth, and the pro-life movement, Cry for Life, are amongst those in the Netherlands who are eager for Biblical Reformation and Spiritual Revival.
The Mission Fields of the Netherlands
There are over 7,000 congregations in the Netherlands, but with a population approaching 19 million, that is not nearly enough. Most of those congregations are liberal and spiritually lifeless. Yet, incredibly, Holland is still a Missionary sending country with 1,250 missionaries serving abroad under 120 Mission societies. A small number of churches in Holland are recognising the tremendous missionary challenge around them - with Muslims building mega mosques and madrassas in their towns and cities. There are many Turks, Moroccans and Arabs in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. There is a steady trickle of Muslims converting to Christ, but most of the Muslims in the Netherlands have never been confronted with the Gospel of Christ. There are also 100,000 Chinese in the Netherlands, many of whom are Buddhist. There are only 25 churches working amongst these Chinese people in the Netherlands.
Reformation or Islamisation
At a seminar for mission, ministry and church leaders, which was filmed, I presented: Reformation or Islamisation, and presentations on Islamic persecution of Christians in the Middle East and North Africa. During the discussion time we also dealt with the increase of persecution in Egypt, the Jihad in Northern Nigeria, the Arab Spring, which has turned out to be such a bitter winter, and the persecution of Christians in Northern Sudan and in the Nuba Mountains. I also gave a presentation on the Persecuted Church in North Africa, and at a mid-week Bible study meeting, I was able to present a Missions Report on Sudan, and Will Animals Be in Heaven?
A New King
On 30 April, Queen Beatrix's 33-year reign ended and William Alexander, Prince of Orange, became king of the Netherlands. His daughter, Catharina – Amelia, 9, became next in line to the throne. With a kiss on both cheeks for her son, on the balcony in front of cheering crowds, a proud Beatrix presented the Netherlands with its new King. William Alexander and his wife, Queen Maxima, have three daughters. The inauguration of the new King of the Netherlands took place in Amsterdam's Nieuwe Kerk (New Church). Despite the name, the Nieuwe Kerk is 600 years old! Princes from royal families from all over the world took part in the investiture. The royal guests and the upper and lower houses of parliament of the Netherlands sang a hymn to mark the inauguration of King Willem Alexander.
In preparation for the inauguration of new King of the Netherlands, William Alexander, I was interviewed at the historic monument in The Hague, celebrating the liberation of Holland from the French Revolutionary occupation in 1813. This monument in The Hague prominently displayed Scriptures and prayers including: "If God be for us, who can be against us", and "the Lord has done great things for us and we rejoice." (Psalm 126:3), and "Ebenezer" (Hitherto has the Lord helped us), and "What has God has joined together, let no man separate."
The South African Connection
Christian media had wanted my African perspective on the Dutch Christian heritage. I was able to remind them of the prayer of the first Dutch Governor, Jan van Riebeeck, who knelt in Table Bay and prayed that Cape Town would be for the spreading of the light of the Reformed Faith throughout the Dark Continent of Africa.
The House of Orange
The largest river in South Africa is named the Orange River, and one of our provinces, the Orange Free State, in honour of Prince William of Orange, the Father of Dutch Liberties and champion of the Protestant cause. The House of Orange - Nassau was instrumental in the Dutch War for independence in the 16th and 17th centuries, and is a cornerstone of the national identity in the Netherlands.
A Land of Bicycles
It was notable how the Netherlands is surely one of the most bicycle-friendly countries in the world. A very high percentage of the population use bicycles as their primary form of transport. I saw many innovative bicycle designs enabling mothers to accommodate two, three and even four children on a single bicycle! In the Netherlands bicycles have right of way. Very huge parking areas are reserved for bicycles and I even saw multi-levelled parking garages, entirely set aside for bicycles
The Netherlands has the highest density of population per square kilometre of any country in Europe. For centuries they have been reclaiming land. About one sixth of the entire country of the Netherlands has been reclaimed from the sea, lakes, marshes and swamps. This represents over 7,000km² in total. Much of the land lies under sea level and the nation depends on strong dykes and effective windmills and pumps to keep their homes and farms from flooding. Historically, there have been some severe floods, such as the 1953, North Sea flood disaster which also afflicted Belgium, England and Scotland. A high spring tide and a severe European windstorm over the North Sea caused a storm surge, which combined wind, high tide and low pressure to overwhelm the dykes and cause extensive flooding, killing over 1,800 people in the Netherlands and hundreds more in Britain and Belgium. The Netherlands is highly urbanised and seeks to make the most of its limited space. It seems that every available piece of land is being used for farming, right up to the airport runways.
Evangelism in the Netherlands is difficult as many young people regard Christianity as irrelevant and intolerant, a threat to their precious vices, drunkenness, immorality, abortions and perversions. Some dynamic Christian media initiatives and outreaches are having an impact, but much more needs to be mobilised to reclaim the Netherlands for Christ.
Contrasts in Airport Security
My next Mission was to Switzerland. As I went through airport security in Schiphol International Airport, Amsterdam, I could not help but compare the friendly, efficient and smooth handling of security in European countries, such as the Netherlands and Switzerland, with the awkward, invasive and extremely time-consuming ordeal now increasingly common in the United States. During my ministry in 18 different countries in Europe, I have found their officials generally pleasant and efficient, (with the exception of the United Kingdom, where they seem to be patterned more after the American style, although more efficient.) Continental Europe has managed to have effective and efficient, streamlined airport security screening without delays and without making air travellers feel that they are all suspected criminals, guilty until proven innocent.
MISSION TO SWITZERLAND
Established in 1291, the Swiss Confederation is the oldest Republic in the world today. With its strong Reformation roots, Switzerland is one of the freest and most independent countries in the world. It is a decentralised country with most of its powers resting with the local cantons and citizens. There are many referendums determining important laws and policies by the direct vote of the population.
Switzerland has maintained a strict policy of non-involvement in world politics and armed neutrality. It has been well said that Switzerland does not have an army, Switzerland is an army! For centuries their policy has been: "If you want peace, prepare for war."To this end, Switzerland is one of the few countries in the world still maintaining compulsory military conscription.
An Exceptional Country
Switzerland is a small mountainous country, 41,293km². 48 Mountain peaks in the Swiss Alps are over 4,000 metres above sea level. Switzerland is an exceptional country, where the Protestant work ethic has produced one of the best-educated and most highly skilled work forces in the world. It is a very productive industrial state that is also agriculturally self-sufficient. Exports play a large role for their high tech and traditional commodities. The Swiss Alps are one of the greatest tourist attractions in the world. Tourism and banking are also important foreign exchange earners. Official languages are German, French and Italian. 62% of the population are German speaking and 18% French.
Land of the Reformation
Switzerland was home to some of the greatest Reformers, including Ulrich Zwingli, Heinrich Bullinger, John Calvin, William Farel, and Theodore Beza. It was a joy to be in this beautiful Alpine country, one of the great lands of the Reformation, where Ulrich Zwingli launched a dynamic Reformation. On 1 January 1519, Ulrich Zwingli dispensed with Latin and began to expound the Scriptures, to the congregation in Grossmunster. Starting with Matthew 1:1, he line by line expounded the Scriptures. This bold action of replacing the mass with the preaching of the Word as the central focus of church services, marked the beginning of expository preaching. The Swiss are so neat and efficient that it is an absolute joy to travel and minister in such a spectacularly beautiful and efficiently run country.
However, despite its rich Christian heritage, spiritual decline and political apathy are threats to future stability. Voter turnouts can be as low as 40%. Birth rates are very low, and many of the churches are in decline. There are over 5,000 congregations in Switzerland, and church attendance in the country is higher than most of Europe. However, wealth, comfort, secularisation and indifference have led many to drift away from the church. Materialism and secularisation has affected much of the country. 75% of the population would identify themselves as Christians. 32% describe themselves as Protestant.
Many of the younger generation are being enticed by Hollywood films and Western music, to explore Eastern religions and the occult. Many of the young people are drifting away from the church and there is a great need for effective student ministry to reach and teach those at university.
Along with legalised abortion, and low birth rates amongst the Swiss, has come a rapidly growing foreign population, including from Muslim backgrounds. More than 22% of the 8 million people living in Switzerland are foreign born. More than 45% of the residents in Geneva are not Swiss. There are more than 100 foreign nationalities living in and around Geneva, which has become internationalised. A huge concentration of international agencies has moved into Geneva, including the World Council of Churches and numerous United Nations organisations.
The vast amount of crimes in the country, are committed by foreigners, many of them Muslims. Most of these criminals are living on the generous welfare of the Swiss. Officially 6% of the people living in Switzerland today are Muslim, and few Swiss Christians are informed and confident enough to approach these resistant people with the Gospel. Some of the cities of Switzerland are experiencing tremendous social problems, particularly with the many Muslims who resist integration and express hostility to everything Swiss. Many Swiss citizens are calling for the expulsion of criminal elements from the country.
Resistance and Renewal
A Referendum in 2009 outlawed any minarets being built in Switzerland. However, amongst the general secularisation in the country, there has been some spiritual growth and renewal in Free and Reformed churches. The pro-life movement is dynamic and there are numerous vigorous missions from Switzerland. Switzerland has mobilised over 2,000 missionaries worldwide. There are also numerous dynamic media ministries using radio, television, print medium and social media to reach and teach Switzerland for Christ.
The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Gunfire
Switzerland has an entrenched firearm culture, with every community having a shooting range as it is their national sport. The Swiss Shooting Association has 85,000 registered members. The Swiss take their target shooting very seriously and even primary school children are taught the safe and effective handling of firearms. One of the biggest events of the year in Switzerland is the Schützenfest. Participants can range from 50,000 to 150,000 competitors, making it the largest shooting competition in the world.
Land of William Tell
Swiss marksmanship is legendary. The inspiration for Switzerland's struggle for independence was William Tell, who was forced to shoot an apple off his son's head with his crossbow. He went on to lead the resistance against foreign domination and championed the independence of the Confederation.
A Citizen Army
Switzerland's military is overwhelmingly made up of conscripts, it is a truly citizen-army that requires its soldiers to keep their own personal equipment and military weapons at their homes. There is compulsory military service for all male citizens, however, women can serve voluntarily.
Swiss building codes require radiation and blast shelters for every home - to accommodate the entire population. Numerous hospitals and command centres have also been built in such nuclear bombproof shelters. Many tunnels and key bridges have tank traps and have been primed with demolition charges to be used against invading forces. They have underground air bases and permanent fortications established in the Alps.
Resisting the New World Order
I was invited to be a guest speaker for the Europe Christians for Truth Conference in Switzerland. The theme of this conference was The War of Worldviews Between the Christian and the Secular. I presented Resisting Babylon and the Beast. At the Sunday Morning church service, I presented: Conviction and Courage – Choose You This Day Whom You Will Serve. I also gave a presentation for morning chapel at the Domino Servite School on Faith Under Fire in South Sudan. A brother from Berlin also travelled through to record an interview with me for a Christian radio station in Germany.
Literature and Audio Visual Ministry
There was tremendous interest in the literature, book table, CDs, DVDs and MP3s. Along with great fellowship with dedicated Christians in Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland, I was also able to conduct many strategic interviews and planning meetings for the Reformation FIRE movement, to Reclaim Europe for Christ.
Pray for Europe
Europe must be one of the most spiritually needy continents on earth. The secularisation and paganisation of large sections of Europe is tragic. Yet, by God's grace, there are many surprising dynamic pockets of spiritual vitality and life amidst the general atheism and heathenism. Please continue to pray for the vibrant Christian communities who are seeking to be faithful to Scripture and effective in fulfilling the Great Commission in Europe.
We must reclaim Europe for Christ!
Dr. Peter Hammond
P.O Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa