REYKJAVIK, Iceland (BP)–God used the burning bush to call Moses, but would he use the Internet to communicate with Southern Baptists?
When Joe Bruce began to think about Iceland and Greenland as possible Southern Baptist mission fields, he asked Frank Johnson to check “chat rooms” on the Internet to see if anyone out there in cyberspace shared their interest.
Bruce directs the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board’s work in Middle America and Canada. Johnson is his associate.
Johnson found plenty of interest and enthusiasm in the chat rooms. He also learned that although 90 per cent of Icelanders claim membership in the state church, a meager 1.5 percent attend services regularly — and that there is little evangelical Christian work in Iceland or Greenland.
Bruce and Johnson decided to visit both countries to survey the needs and opportunities for mission work. But before they left, a retired Southern Baptist missionary told Bruce his daughter and son-in-law were being transferred to Iceland. And a Tennessee Baptist called to ask who could go to Iceland to help his daughter, Marsha, who had married an Icelander and started a Bible study and Sunday school in her home.
When Bruce and Johnson arrived in Greenland, they found representatives from Campus Crusade there trying to advance a project to put the “Jesus” film into Greenlandic. Bruce had determined before going this would be a good strategy in working in the expansive, barren land.
Long winter nights and a dearth of videos in Greenlandic insure the film will be watched over and over again. Bruce committed $5,000 to the project with hopes the FMB can help more later. Translating the film to Icelandic is also envisioned.
“We arrived in Iceland and immediately began meeting people, starting with the owner of the house where we stayed,” Bruce said. “Everyone we met — from the woman from Tennessee to a representative of Youth With a Mission to an Assemblies of God missionary couple — was extremely helpful and positive toward us.
“Every one of the contacts we made within the small evangelical community repeated the Macedonian call, ‘Please come over and help us,'” Bruce said. “We continue to pray for and trust the Lord of the Harvest to lead the right couple to respond to this urgent personnel request.”
Foreign Mission Board trustees voted in December to explore opening work in Iceland and Greenland.
“It seems that from all these seemingly ‘coincidental’ circumstances, God is moving us to join him in what he wants to do in Iceland and Greenland. We are excited about the possibilities for ministry there,” Bruce said.
“One exciting development is that the evangelical community is becoming aware of the need to cooperate in reaching Iceland for Christ,” Johnson said. “About nine months ago, the leaders of the different evangelical groups in Iceland began meeting together for prayer. It’s exciting to think the Lord is preparing Southern Baptists to be part of spiritual awakening in Iceland.”
“We would ask Southern Baptists to join us in praying for the advance of the gospel in these ‘off the beaten path’ places,” Bruce said.