I have recently got back from the Arctic Circle. A team of us went to investigate some new relationships in the very furthest parts of our inhabited world.
There is mile after mile of forest. Mostly there is nothing but wolves, bears, Reindeers and rivers in between the small towns and villages. Some places such as Gallivare and Kiruna are mining communities of around 20 thousand people in each. With remoteness, long winters, sparse population and harsh working conditions for many. Dare I say it, but due to the harsh living conditions this is a part of the world more suited to Men in my opinion. The winters are long and dark. The snows come in September and melt in May. In the summer the sun does not go down, in the winter it hardly comes up. It is very cold at times. Accounts of minus 50 were relayed to us. There are deposits of Gold, Iron Ore and Copper here in abundance and fresh mines are opening soon due to the discovery of fresh deposits. These mines dig deep.
We met some outstanding people who have not only made life work up here but who also have served the Lord faithfully and effectively for many years. Amongst them was Alf the Reindeer herdsman. Alf’s love for the Lord and knowledge of how nature works was a joy to listen to. Another hero we had the pleasure of meeting is Jorma Lappalainen a man who has planted over 70 churches in Lapland then across Russia and even into Estonia. Almost single handed he serves a circuit of small congregations ‘Wesley style’ (but without the Horse). It was a privilege to meet Jorma and speak in two of the churches he serves. His infectious passion for God deeply touched me. As I observed young people in many of the places he has planted churches in it made me realise a new generation is emerging that requires young men with the same passion he has to rise up and reach their peers and see a fresh wave of church planting. The regions these village churches are located in cover great distances. We did over 1000kms in three days from place to place.
We had a great conference in Gallivare which was our main reason for coming initially and I believe we made some really good friendships and we will see emerging a new fresh expression of New Testament church values across this region. The enthusiasm for the message of grace and fresh insights on building New Testament principles and values into local church life was very encouraging to me. I believe God was in this trip and has plans for new moves of his Spirit here.
Jesus loves all people groups. We met Lapps, Saami, Finns and Swedes. I felt something in the heart of God was touched by us coming here. Jesus told us we would be his witnesses to the ends of the earth. He loves to include all into his family it does not get much nearer the end of the earth than this. Jesus has unique purposes for these places. It was a privilege to meet such dear people. The leaders at the Gallivare church showed us very kind hospitality and hunger for God. I look forward to seeing what happens next.