Go Ye into all the World: Norway

An account of the work of the Lord in Norway.

It was in October 1992, after being commended by the Killykergan Assembly (N. Ireland), that Rhoda and I, along with our three children, Esther, Thomas, and Andrew, arrived in Norway. Over the last 9 years we have experienced the goodness of God and the kindness of believers. God has answered prayer in regard to our family, preserved us as we sowed the good seed of the Word of God, and given us a little fruit to harvest unto eternal life. Believers have been kind in their prayerful and practical support.

The Land

Norway, the land of the Midnight Sun, is the longest country in Europe with the smallest population among the Scandinavian Countries. With its 4.5 million people, it borders three countries to the east: Sweden, Finland and Russia. To the south, west and north it borders the Skagerrak, North, Norwegian and Barents Seas. Norway has a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government and ranks among the worlds highest per capita income. The people of Norway enjoy a very high standard of living and wealth abounds due to the countrys natural resources such as oil, gas, forestry, fish, and electricity. The Laodicean attitude would characterize the majority of Norwegians as they are rich, increased with goods, and feel they have need of nothing. Norway is 98% Protestant, with 92% of the people being members of The Lutheran State Church. Membership is high in all registered churches due to a government grant system. While membership is high, attendance is extremely poor. This is in part due to the Norwegian culture. Weekends are taken up mainly with leisure. Skiing, which originated in Norway, has given to us Norwegian words such as ski and slalom. During wintertime (November – Easter) Norwegians will spend most weekends at their winter cottage in the mountains skiing, while summertime is spent at their summer cottages on the islands. This type of life style makes it difficult to get people into meetings.

The Lords Work and Labor

One of the first assembly workers to visit this land was Mr. Darling in 1866, followed by Reginald Radcliff (1879), E. H. Broadbent, G. Stedman, William Sloan (1889), Hudson Taylor (1889), and Alex Mitchell (1899). Last century there were men like David McMurdo (1903), followed by J. J. Adams, James Lees, and Angus McKinnon (1910), Theo Hewitt (1973), Nat Rodgers (1983), and ourselves in 1992. We are told that assembly work prospered during the last few years of the 19th century and the start of the 20th. This resulted in many assemblies being planted in the southern part of Norway. However, we have a sad picture today, with likely only one remaining assembly and that being in Skien. What has gone wrong? Many of these believers, which made up the local companies, had only been influenced by assembly teaching, but never convicted. As a result, they quickly lost their identity by forming relationships again with that to which they once belonged.

Our Locality

In June 1993 we moved to the town of Kristiansand on the southeast coast of Norway. Kristiansand is Norways fifth largest town and Norways number one tourist resort. After moving to this town we heard that there had been an assembly here, which had closed its doors in the late 70s. Speaking to the son of one of the men who had been in the meeting, he told me that it had closed for two reasons: (1) They had no gospel meeting and, (2) They had no work amongst the young. Surely this is a warning to us all. We commenced with a childrens meeting each week and were encouraged to see approximately 20 children coming, singing the choruses, learning their verses, and listening to the Bible story. As a result of this work, Mina got saved two years ago. She is now 18, and comes to the Bible Study on Wednesday evenings. Mina would like to be baptized, but cannot due to opposition at home. We would appreciate your prayers for Mina. We have a gospel meeting each Lords Day evening, though there are many evenings when no one comes.

Tract Work

What should we do when people dont come in? The Lord said GO OUT. Over the last 8 years we have printed 340,000 gospel tracts and are expecting a further 160,000 this month. We use these tracts on the streets of Kristiansand. We bought a revolving post-card stand, which has 96 compartments, each of which holds 100 tracts. This stand is placed on the main shopping street. We carry a stock of gospel tracts in 44 languages and thereby can reach all with a tract in a language that they can understand. We have had many opportunities to spread the gospel to people of different lands. We sow, knowing that God gives the increase.

Seed Sowers

As well as reaching the people on the street, we were exercised last year to reach the people who live in our county. We felt that it would be good to offer all a Seed Sowers package. The brethren responsible for Seed Sowers kindly provided 50,000 plastic bags, 50,000 texts as well as 50,000 manuals without any charge. On top of this they posted it free to us. Without their help we just could not have managed it. Into each package we also put a gospel tract, a leaflet explaining who we are and what we believe, and a reply card. It was a huge task for a family of five to package, yet we managed it and got a Norwegian firm to distribute them. Each reply card offered a free copy of Ultimate Questions. We were greatly encouraged to receive 86 replies.

Ultimate Questions

We are expecting 3,000 copies of Ultimate Questions in Norwegian. This will be the first time that Ultimate Questions will be available in a Scandinavian language. God willing, we plan to personally deliver these booklets to the 86 homes that sent in the reply cards from Seed Sowers. Please pray that contacts will be made that will result in the salvation of souls.

Key Bible Concepts

Over the past 8 years we have printed 40,000 booklets for believers. We first printed a booklet dealing with the believers life followed by John Ritchies booklet Focus on Separation. At the end of March we received 1,000 copies of the book Key Bible Concepts. Please pray that this book will be used by God to influence the minds of believers.

Calendar Work

Each year we distribute 25,000 calendars, and though we dont get many people writing back to thank us, we do know that many Norwegians use these calendars in their homes. Last year we covered 9,500 homes, and into each self-sealing plastic bag we put 1 large calendar and one pocket calendar as well as a gospel tract and an invitation to the meetings. Out of 9,500, homes we got one reply.

Refugee Work and contacts with foreigners.

We continue to keep contact with many Chileans who attended the ministry meetings David Booth had some years ago. They really appreciated his teaching and we continue to try to help them by providing good literature in Spanish. We would appreciate your prayers for contacts we have amongst people from the Ukraine as well as Kosovo.

Saturday Tract Work

Young people are found on the streets of our towns late at night. In order to reach them we must go where they are to be found. We bought a folding table and 3 large commercial flasks, and each Saturday night we give out 24 liters of hot chocolate (about 190 cups) plus cookies and sweets. Our aim is to reach the young with the gospel. On the table we have gospel literature in about 9 languages. Esther, Rhoda, and I stand from 11pm to 1am every Saturday (winter and summer) and reach the young with the gospel. Many contacts are made and we would ask you to pray for this work. Just last year a young man – Kai – professed to be saved. Loneliness is a problem. Esther (18), Thomas (15), and Andrew (11) are saved and need your prayers. We are raising our family where there is no assembly and where they have no other meetings to attend but the ones we hold ourselves. I greatly appreciate the work not only that Rhoda my wife does, but also what the children do on our behalf. They are not only our children but also our best friends. Our longing would be that God would bless the work in Kristiansand and that it might please him to continue to save souls. We look forward to the day when we can sit down with a few to remember the Lord. Your prayers are valued that as a family we might be preserved and that we might remain faithful to Christ.

Lift up – Look on

John 4:35 Lift up your eyes and look on the fields.