Local Missionaries in Netherlands
Once a bulwark in the Protestant Reformation, the Netherlands has a population that has become largely secular at a time when devoted Muslim refugees have streamed into the country from the Middle East. One survey found 25 percent of the Netherlands population is atheist, 31 percent agnostic and 27 percent ietsist, i.e., believers in an undetermined, impersonal, transcendent reality.
According to the Joshua Project, 42.6 percent of the population identifies as non-religious. While 46.9 percent of the population identifies as Christian, most are adherents of historical churches with little regard for the Bible (making up 52.4 percent of those who identify as Christian) and Protestantism (32.3 percent).
Meanwhile, refugee flows and birth rates have swollen the Muslim population to 7.8 percent of the Netherlands’ population. Among unreached or under-reached people groups in the country, there are 301,000 Moroccans; 113,000 Syrians; 301,000 people from Turkey; 92,000 Algerians; 66,000 Iraqis; 162,000 Berbers; 1,100 Tunisians; 2,200 Bosniaks; 145,000 east Indians; 76,000 Kurds; 1,500 Islamic Malay; 40,000 Iranians; 41,000 Somalis; 3,200 Tajiks; and 3,300 Muslim Eritreans.
Arabic immigrants from the Middle East are working as local missionaries among both the Arabic-speaking refugees and the native Dutch. They have planted three churches among refugees and other Arabic-speakers from Syria, Iraq and Egypt. Workers are proclaiming Christ to the unreached, discipling new believers, training Arabic and Dutch evangelists and church leaders and providing aid to needy refugee families. They also organize special outings for the refugees where they share the gospel.
The local missionaries undertake evangelistic outreaches to youth and hold special events for Christian young people. In a society where prostitution is not only legal but highly visible, and marijuana is legal for those over 18 but readily available for those even younger, workers put an emphasis on helping young Christians grow in their faith.
Sources: Joshua Project, Wikipedia, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam survey
How to Pray for
- Pray that young people and new Christians would withstand worldly pressure from friends and relatives within a highly secular society.
- Pray the Holy Spirit would draw refugees to Christ and open their eyes to His saving sacrifice and grace.
- Pray that former Muslims would remain steadfast in the face of threats and other pressures from Muslim friends and relatives.
More stories from The Netherlands
A Shiite Muslim family in Iraq under threat from the Islamic State fled to the Netherlands, where a worker with a native Christian ministry shared the gospel with them. They began studying Christianity and asking questions, and over time they accepted Christ. “Their lives changed completely, and their faith started to grow,” the ministry leader said. “Now they are every week involved with Bible study.”
A Muslim refugee from Syria came to the Netherlands after concluding that his wife and children, kidnapped by Islamic State terrorists six years prior, were no longer alive. “He would cry a lot and feel very guilty because he could not help his family,” the native ministry leader said.