Why Not Austria
When I was a student at Northwest University I already knew that God had called me to be a missionary. That experience is a subject for the next newsletter. In fact I was pretty sure that I knew where and what God was saying I should do, although looking back my understanding of missions and ministry was miniscule. In an effort to get ready to go to the field I felt God calling me to I undertook the task of seeking special permission as a sophomore to take a senior level course on European Missions Strategies. You see God had clearly been directing me to Germany, at least I thought so.
The first day of the class the professor had all 4 of us students sit in a semi-circle and introduce ourselves and share about the country where God had called us. The first couple of students shared about a burden for France and Poland I seem to recall. Then it was my turn. I introduced myself and told the professor I felt called to Germany. I will never forget the quizzical look he gave me and the questions he asked next.
“Why Germany?” he asked. Well that was an easy question. The Berlin wall fell the same year God called me to missions, I was taking German in high school only because all my friends were, and I had taken four years of high school German, because it just made sense that God would need me in eastern Germany.
The professor seemed to consider my reasoning and then made a statement and asked a question that changed the trajectory of my life forever.
“There are already so many missionaries in Germany”, he said, “Why not Austria?”
My colleagues in Germany will forgive him I’m sure. But I believe in this moment God used that question to direct my life to exactly the place he wanted me to be. To be honest all I knew about Austria was Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Sound of Music. I decided nevertheless to take on Austria as my project that semester primarily because I wanted a good grade from my professor. I could always apply what I learned to Germany I told myself.
Thus began a 12 week journey of transformation begun by a question and carried out by God as he showed me the need in Austria and spoke the seeds of a plan to make a difference in the nation. Over those 12 weeks and the next 20 years God has been answering the question “why not Austria?” in my heart. Here are some of the why not reasons:
Austria is .5% born again Christian. Although a predominantly Catholic nation it is mostly a nominal Catholicism and people are leaving the state church in huge numbers.
There remain to this day less than 75 Pentecostal churches in the nation of 8 million. Most of the churches are small and many are not self-sustaining.
There are 250,000 university students in Austria with very little effective outreach to university campuses. Since the first week of this “Austria journey” university students have been at the forefront of our strategy. The students on the campus today will lead the nation tomorrow and have an incredible opportunity to create meaningful change in the culture.
God loves the people of Austria and sent his son Jesus to die for their sins. Jesus rose from the dead so that they could have a relationship with God forever and told his followers to continue to spread this good news until everyone hears. This generation of students in Austria has never heard this truth, they are an unreached group and God would not want us to leave them that way.
Yeah, the last point is the one that really makes a difference.
So I am ready to ask you the question “Why not Austria?” Would you consider your response and see if there isn’t a way that God wants you to be involved or more involved? If you click the link above to get more involved, you will see three ways you can make a difference.
Thanks for considering the question; I’m so glad I did 20 years ago.