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Europe


Europe is an important mission field. A stronghold for secularization and a front against the fervent spread of Islam, it provides a challenge for the Christian faith.
Therefore, Word of Life focuses on building up powerful, local churches, training believers through Bible schools, equipping leaders through Livets Ord University and connecting with other Christian groups and denominations in order to stand united with the whole Body of Christ in winning souls for Jesus.
    Today Word of Life has Bible schools in Bratislava (Slovakia) and Fier (Albania), and in Vienna (Austria) we are running a pastors’ course, educating 145 European pastors and leaders. We also send regular teams and preachers to churches and other Bible school across Europe, as well as broadcast TV programmes on many European networks via cable or satellite.
    The work that Word of Life established in earlier years in, mainly, Eastern Europe is now managed by local pastors and leaders, who very successfully continue the task. Word of Life gladly watches the progress of our daughter churches in Europe and continues to support with, among other things, leadership training.

 

The Baltic States

Our work in the Baltic States began simultaneously with the onset of the Russian Inland Mission, in 1989. The hunger for God’s word was great among the freedom-seeking Balts, who for so long had suffered under the Soviet occupation. During a journey that Pastor Ulf and Birgitta Ekman made in 1989 together with Carl-Gustaf and Monica Severin and Dr. Lester Sumrall in what was still the Soviet Union, they visited Tallinn in Estonia, among other places.
    The following year Pastor Ulf and Carl-Gustaf went back again, also visiting the city of Tartu, as well as some places in Russia and the Ukraine. While in Tartu, they had some powerful meetings with Russians arriving from almost all former Soviet republics. Many people were healed and met God.
    When the campaign was over, the people refused to go home; they wanted more of the teaching on faith. Therefore, the local pastor immediately started up a Bible school, supported by Word of Life.
Today many of these students are pastors and preachers all over Russia.
Directly following the meetings, some even went out to cut the ice open on the closest river in order to get baptized, in the middle of winter. A spiritual revival began and quickly spread across large parts of the former Soviet Union.
    The same year, the work continued in the Baltic States with meetings in Riga, Latvia.


Visiting the President

In January 1991 the Baltic States underwent some very dramatic days. The people claimed their right of independence from the Soviet occupation, which had lasted since World War II, and the Russians answered by sending in tanks and elite soldiers.
While many Balts were killed during the Russian army’s invasion in Vilnius and Riga, God spoke to Pastor Ulf Ekman to go to Lithuania. It seemed impossible, but through an embassy contact, Pastor Ulf and Carl-Gustaf managed to receive visas.
The atmosphere in Vilnius was very tense. The Russians had occupied the TV tower and all radio stations, but in the city centre, the Lithuanians had gathered to sing freedom songs.
    Pastor Ulf had received a prophetic word to President Landsbergis, who very boldly had claimed the nation’s right to independence but now sat tired and weary in a seized parliament building.
Through various contacts, Pastor Ulf and Carl-Gustaf finally managed meeting with President Landsbergis to encourage and remind him of all the times in history when God had stood on the small, lonely nations’ side. “God will deliver your people, as well,” Pastor Ulf said, and the president’s eyes were again filled with hope.
Six months later, the Baltic States received their independence and the prophetic word was fulfilled.

 

Bulgaria

Already during the ’80s, evangelists from Word of Life began travelling to Bulgaria to preach. In 1990 Word of Life held its first conference in Plovdiv, which became the starting point for many of the new churches that soon were planted across the country.
    In 1991 Bulgaria experienced an emergent shortage of insulin, and the country’s president sent a fax to Word of Life asking for help. Two days later we flew down insulin and other medical supplies.
In conjunction with this, we also held evangelistic meetings in Plovdiv and Sofia, where many amazing miracles took place. Among other things, many people who were deaf or had impaired vision were healed.
    During the years 1990-93 many evangelistic campaigns and meetings were held in Bulgaria, two of them at the national arena and the “cultural palace” in Sofia. The latter occasion was also broadcast live on Bulgarian TV as the first Christian programme ever with the Gospel clearly preached.
During the meeting at the arena, more than 40,000 people arrived, and large crowds wished to receive Jesus in their lives. In addition many sick were healed after prayer.

 

Greece

Word of Life began working in Greece by sending evangelists, who travelled across the land to preach in homes of people that they had received contact with during conferences in Greece and Uppsala.
In 1993 a first Gospel Festival was arranged in Athens, and in connection with this, Pastor Ulf Ekman’s book Faith that Overcomes the World was translated into Greek.
    A second Gospel Festival was held in the fall of 1995, this time in a basketball arena in Athens, and additional books were translated and spread across the nation.
    Shortly afterwards a church was planted in Athens, which later was united with another church. Thanks to this, the pastor could go to Uppsala to attend Bible school for a year, while missionaries from Word of Life took care of the work.
The missionaries stayed in Greece from 1994 to 1999, when local believers took over the work. Now there are also daughter churches in Cyprus.

 

Croatia

Today there is a well-established, growing Word of Life church in Zagreb, headed by the first international Bible school student that came to Uppsala. After Bible school he was sent back as a missionary to his own country, where he now pastors the church, which is the largest evangelical church in Croatia.
    During the war in Croatia, the church was very active and also boldly spread the Gospel. There are also daughter churches planted across the country, and the church runs a Bible school and a publishing house.

 

The Czech Republic and Slovakia

Word of Life’s first and most established work in Eastern Europe is in the Czech Republic. All began in 1989 with a church in Prague, and since then the work has expanded greatly. During the spring of 1990, large outdoor meetings were held in Prague, and later that fall a faith conference was arranged with Pastor Ulf Ekman. As a result of this conference, many new churches were planted all over the nation.
    In 1992 Word of Life’s first missionaries arrived to the city of Brno, which became the heart of the work. A church was planted, as well as a Bible school, which had a flying start with 300 students in 1994. The school also attracted many students from surrounding countries.
    Today the work is headed by local pastors and leaders.
    In 1995 missionaries from Word of Life also planted a church in Bratislava, which today is located in Slovakia. The origin of the church was a prayer group, established two years earlier as a result of Word of Life’s outreach project called “the Danube Campaign”.
    Today the church is headed by local Christian leaders.

 

The Danube Campaign

In the summer of 1995 Word of Life rented a large boat – a barge – accommodating 250 people, in order to perform a five-week Gospel journey along the Danube River. In Austria, Slovakia, Serbia, Hungary and Romania, the team held meetings, preached the Gospel and spread Christian literature.
All in all, around 7,000 people received Jesus during this campaign, and many powerful miracles took place, such as many people healed from cancer and various forms of visual impairments.
In some of these countries, new churches were planted in order to take care of and help all the newly-saved.
    The Danube Campaign began in Vienna, with three evening meetings, and then continued through many European cities. There were also campaign meetings in Bratislava with Pastor Ulf Ekman and Bengt Wedemalm. Some of the participants of these meetings later planted churches in Bratislava with surroundings.
The journey then continued to Komárno, on the border between Slovakia and Hungary, where more meetings were held.
    On the first stretch through the borderland Serbia-Croatia, snipers and pirates were common phenomena, why the boat glided with lights and engines turned off. But no mishap occurred, and later Pastor Ulf preached to 2,000 people in the “cultural palace” of the Serbian city of Novi Sad.
    Belgrade was at the time under boycott of UN, which had spurred much antipathy against foreigners. But when the boat arrived to the city, the meetings could still be held as planned, and the people hungrily received the message of Jesus, who can transform people’s hearts and turn hate into love.
Hundreds received Jesus, and many came forward after prayer to testify about healing miracles. The meetings in Belgrade were also broadcast via national TV.
    The campaign ended in the cities of Calafat and Galati in Romania.