The news comes thick and fast these days. It’s hard to keep up, let alone anticipate where it’s all going. A good example are the movements, largely youth led, which are fermenting such change along the south Mediterranean coast. When all this dies down, who knows what the region will look like politically, economically or spiritually. And who knows what the impact will be on Europe and youth ministry.
Some things are more predictable. There will probably be a new wave of immigration and asylum seeking from the region into Europe- particularly Libya if the uprising there fails. Given the age group of those involved in the protests, we can assume many of these will be young people, and the church needs to be ready for this. I was at Swedish church this week which was responding amazingly to the needs and opportunities immigration and asylum seeking was giving them. The Alpha Group had 40 participants from 15 nations! Later that night I sat with the pastor in his house, marvelling that he was now a missionary to some of the most unreachable nations on earth, without leaving his village!
What is less predictable is how these changes will impact North Africa and the young people who live there. We tend to fear Islamist movements will take over, close the countries off and persecute the tiny church. And there could be grounds for these fears. Just as possible though is a brand new day of greater freedom and openness of young people to the gospel. I was brought up in an era when we were all convinced Russia’s triumph was inevitable. Nuclear war would happen. It was just a matter of when. If someone had told me that just ten years later, the iron curtain had been torn in two, I would have laughed!
We need to keep watch and pray. These are crazy days, but they aren’t out of control- not God’s control anyway. We need to be ready- ready to meet needs and opportunities in Europe and in North Africa. We need to believe. These aren’t days to fear- much of our fear is groundless and even more is pretty selfish- but to believe great things. Let’s face it we haven’t much to lose when it comes to spiritual movement among young people in either region, and potentially we have much to gain.