Population: About 60 million people.
Religion: Roman Catholicism ceased to be the state religion in 1984. All religions have equal freedom before the law, but not in practice. Increasing acceptance of diversity within the Church bears witness to a gradual change from the decades, even centuries, of division within Protestantism. There is a growing sense of grace and acceptance of appropriate theological differences. Widespread division, legalism, fragmentation and distrust stunted the potential impact of evangelicals, but respect and even cooperation are starting to develop.
Indifference to the gospel has typified Italy for ages. Secular materialism ensnares many. Satanism is growing in various areas,Turin being one of the global centres of its activities. Occultism continues to be alarmingly widespread – there are more than 150,000 practicing soothsayers, prognosticators and healers, in contrast to around 50,000 Catholic priests! Eastern and esoteric spirituality are increasingly popular. Italians are more liable to dabble in an occult, New Age or pagan practice than to read the Bible.Those who do pray will often pray to Padre Pio (37%) or Saint Anthony (21%) rather than to Jesus (less than 10%). Cults are active; Jehovah’s Witnesses number more in Italy than all its Protestants combined.
Population: About 67 million.
Religion: Before the 1789 Revolution, a long history of severe persecution of dissenters and reformers; now a resolutely secular state with freedom of religion. Anti-sectarian legislation was passed in 2000, and obvious religious apparel is banned for those working in public services and education.Traditionally dominant Catholicism has been in decline for decades, while atheism and other faith groups grow.The government currently forbids collecting data on individuals’ religious faith, so all statistics are estimates.
Population: over 8 million.
Relationship between the state and the Catholic/Reformed Churches is defined by the constitution. Legislation in 1998 enabled evangelical groups (among others) to receive state recognition as religious “entities”; however, the status given falls short of that afforded religious groups, rendering associated benefits unattainable at present.
Challenges for prayers:
Population: About 8 million
Religion: The federal constitution guarantees religious freedom, but relationships between cantonal governments and the churches are decided locally. Post-Reformation confrontations between Catholics and Protestants helped determine the majority religion of each canton, but this identity is fading in many cantons.
Population: About 80 million people.
Religious freedom guaranteed in the constitution. The Catholic and Lutheran Churches are established churches but not formally state churches as such. They collaborate with the government in religious education, media and such and benefit from state-levied taxation on their behalf.The high Christian numbers below are often those only nominally affiliated and who have not opted out of this taxation system.There is increased awareness of other religious options but also increasing suspicion of much of organized religion. Post-9/11, there is a great public interest in the Christian way as an alternative and counterbalance to Islam. Evangelicals are much more prominent than ever before in media and politics.
The Faroe Islands is a small nation with a population on nearly 50.000 people. It is a self-governing region of Denmark. The parliamentary democracy is usually represented by coalition governments, and since it is not part of the EU, all trade is governed by special treaties.
There is complete freedom of religion, although the Lutheran Church is recognized as the national church and is supported by a state-levied tax.
The Faroese need revival. From the Lutheran Church (with many nominals as well as a solid evangelical contingent) to the Pentecostals and charismatics, local Christian leaders all agree that these islands are starting to see a fresh move of the Holy Spirit.The Lutheran Church has declined, but its recent independence from Danish Lutheranism sees an emerging evangelicalism, such as the growing Pietist Home Mission with 35 prayer houses and up to 5,000 affiliates. Pray for the Spirit to make the Faroese truly Christian – and not just in name only.
Evangelicals are many; 29% of the population. In particular, the Brethren churches make a significant impact as missionaries, both at home and abroad. The Faeroe Islands send a proportionately large number of missionaries – around 100 in more than 20 countries; pray that this may continue. Pray for the Spirit to continue impacting the Church in the Faeroe Islands; pray that Christians will be wise in engaging the postmodern and secular attitudes that increasingly challenge the primacy of the Bible and Christian tradition.
Belgium has a population on 11 million people and the country became a nation in 1830 as a constitutional monarchy, but was deeply divided along linguistic lines. The nation has been a fully federal constitution since 1993 to reduce tensions between Walloons and Flemings and to stave off possible national fragmentation. Effective national government has been in a state of paralysis for years due to intransigent parties in a succession of failed coalition governments. Distrust, weariness and apathy characterize Belgians’ attitudes toward the federal government. Regional governments are much more effective and trusted due to the lack of language differences.
Rapid secularization has allowed the introduction of several very liberal laws that are an affront to a biblical understanding of the sanctity of life, sexuality and marriage.These both reflect and encourage an erosion of the moral foundations of society, coinciding with widespread recreational drug use, sexual immorality and occult and New Age activities.
In all these needs of prayer it is important to be thankful for all the prayers that has been answered: The growth of evangelical believers has been sustained over many years.While only at a modest 1.2% of the population, evangelical faith in Belgium has never been stronger.While growth is most prominent among Pentecostals, the more conservative churches in Flanders and Wallonia see an increase through determined church planting and relational witness. And while most of the nation struggle with working together as one nation, unity and cooperation among the many Protestant and evangelical have made great strides in the last decade.
Albania has a population on 3 million. It is a former Communist country. The nation emerged from the Communist economy in the 1990s, but remains one of Europe’s two poorest nations. While there is marked improvement, poor infrastructure, corruption and high emigration rates hamper further growth.
No religion was allowed to exist in Communist Albania from 1967.The ban was lifted in 1990, but no legal provision for religious freedom was made until 1998. Since then, Albania enjoys total religious freedom, cherished by many.The majority of Albanians are very nominal, but some traditional religious groups have had a tendency to resent and oppose the proselytism and activities of both evangelicals and marginal cults.
Since the country became more open to religion much good work has been done. The Albanian Church is still maturing with greater indigenous leadership, nationwide organizational structures and a more holistic vision for discipleship and evangelism. In just few years the number of evangelicals has grown from nearly zero to several thousands.
Still it is important to pray for the country. Albania has a long road ahead to recover completely from the devastation of atheistic Communism. Economically, morally and in particular, spiritually, there remains much to be done to build a healthy and productive society.
Hungary has a population on 9,8 million people. Hungary lost 60% of its land area at the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918, leaving large Hungarian minorities in surrounding lands. After WWII, the Soviets imposed Communism, only leaving in 1991.
Hungary was the first Communist bloc state to abandon Marxism and institute a multiparty democracy (1990) although most of the leaders were the same ones as under Communism. Corruption and unpopular policies kept any party from gaining conclusive control of parliament, until 2009, when a centre-right party gained the two-thirds majority needed to change the legal system, the constitution, etc. Political scandal has brought much disappointment and skepticism in society of Hungary.
In 1600, Hungary was 90% Protestant. Many reverted to Catholicism during the Counter Reformation and the periods of discrimination that followed. The Communists enforced strict controls on all Christians from 1948-1988, through discrimination, intimidation and infiltration. In 2000, Hungary celebrated 1,000 years since its conversion to Christianity.
There has been freedom of religion since 1990, but Hungarians have lost contact with the gospel. They seek answers in many places: materialism, hedonism, alcohol and, increasingly, false religion. Postmodern mentalities predominate. In recent years, public spiritual life is characterized by an alarming rise in occult activity and eastern mysticism, including pagan witchcraft, ancient Magyar shamanism and Tibetan Buddhism. Most common is a pick-and- choose spirituality that is effectively non-religious, with some personal sentiment.
Still there has been answers to prayers: the small evangelical movement is growing in size, maturity, diversity and confidence. Many types of ministries are springing up around the nation, and the vision exists to see an evangelical church planted in every city, town and village in Hungary. Unity across denominations is also experiencing a much-needed growth, as churches come together to pray, worship and minister.
The Netherlands is a nation in the Northwestern part of Europe with a population close to 17 million people. It is in many ways very different from many other European countries being famous for its focus on tolerance and on individual freedom. There is also religious freedom, but anti-discrimination legislation challenges Christian beliefs and integrity.
The Dutch have a great history as a Christian nation. There has been a good fight for religious freedom, ministry to refugees and Jews and a record of extensive involvement in missions around the globe.
But now the nation is very different from its past. The society has developed into a very secular society with a declining number of Christians. There are few restrictions on drugs, deviant lifestyles, prostitution, homosexuality and abortion. The Netherlands is also the first country to legalize euthanasia.
The Christianity has in many ways reached its rock bottom. The Roman Catholic Church has gone from a membership on 41% in 1975 to a membership on 26% in 2010 (other reports say 18%). The Protestant churches have also experienced a great decrease from 60% in 1900 to 18% in 2010.