The work of ‘The Ministry for Europe Trust’ began in 1991 as a result of reports given by Mr. Bill Grunbaum, missionary to Eastern Europe, and Mr. Ronnie Cunningham, missionary to Tanzania, at a missionary conference in the Killeen Gospel Hall, Armagh, Northern Ireland. Brother Thomas Jennings from Castlereagh Gospel Hall, Belfast, was in the audience and he had been exercised for some time about the work in Eastern Europe, where he had worked for a number of years. The reports given not only heightened his interest in the work in Eastern Europe, but provided the challenge which resulted in some positive action, namely the creation of the ‘Ministry for Europe Trust’ (‘MET’).
Early funding for the work was provided as a result of an opportunity graciously offered by Mr. Eric Davis, missionary in Southern Ireland, who asked Thomas to allow some of his late father’s unique ministry to be transcribed and made available for the saints. This was agreed and the decision was made that all proceeds should be directed into the work of the Lord in Europe. Since then, a number of books, by Mr. Rowan Jennings, Belfast, and others, have been produced.
The main objective of the MET is, ‘to help and encourage those labouring for the Lord in Europe’ and, especially, those lonely, pioneers of the gospel, who are not known in the West and, thus, are neither prayed for nor supported in any way.
MET’s initial work was focused in the former East Germany, where assistance and encouragement was given to the local believers who were reaching out to their own country-men and women. This eventually progressed to a major Gospel Campaign, where, over a five-night period, some 15,000 people came to hear the gospel, while thousands saw the billboards advertising the meetings, with the message, ‘Jesus is the only Way’. This work of evangelizing the German people continues, unabated, until today. The work then progressed into Hungary, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, Armenia, Kosovo and Macedonia and, as the Lord blessed, assemblies were planted in Serbia, Armenia and Macedonia. Indeed, over the last twenty years an estimated one million souls have been reached with the gospel across Europe through the endeavours of the MET.
As is well documented, the whole Balkan peninsula suffered greatly as a result of the ethnic wars, during the early part of the 2000s. Through earlier connections made by Brother Jennings, the MET was able to provide much needed aid to thousands of refugees flowing into Macedonia. Just prior to this, the Lord had been working in the lives of a number of the Macedonian believers. For example, one ‘secret disciple’ (due to fear of the communist regime) felt the need to translate the scriptures into his own language and MET was highly privileged to finance the importing of the first ever Macedonian Bibles/New Testaments and, to date, some 110,000 have been delivered into that land.
A more recent development of the work of MET, in partnership with the Loukas Foundation, Netherlands, has been the creation of ‘City Bibles’, where the ‘steps of salvation’ are clearly shown in the introduction. However, the unique point of the ‘City Bible’, is the cover, which shows a well-known local landmark and is, thereby, directed to the people of the targeted area or city. This has proved to be a major ‘evangelical tool’ in the spread of the gospel across the Balkans.
The MET and Loukas Foundation are presently working with a number of the Israeli assemblies, with a view to creating a ‘City Bible’ there.
An early decision of the MET was to pro-actively assist in the education of children, as this would not only have long-term personal and social benefits, but it would also give the local saints direct contact with thousands of children and their families. This has been done to great effect in Armenia and to an even greater extent in Macedonia, where MET has been nationally recognized for their endeavours of building schools and specialized facilities for children with ‘learning difficulties’.
This work has allowed MET to distribute Bibles to children, teachers, families and even to the local mayors.
So, the work continues to flourish in many lands across Europe.
The MET leadership, however, felt the need to focus also on areas nearer home and so a door-to-door work was commenced in Northern Ireland and the Shetland Islands, where every home has been visited with specially-designed gospel folders, showing the dignity of the gospel of grace. The result of this exercise has been that areas, even in our beloved United Kingdom, which have reportedly not been approached with the gospel for over 100 years, have been presented with the message of forgiveness for sins.
Over these twenty years, the work has seen many changes. However, two things remain: (a) the poverty in Eastern Europe is still ‘social enemy number one’ to both the individual saints and the effectiveness in their work for the Lord; and (b) the resolve of the MET team to continue, as the Lord may lead, to encourage these pioneers to spread the gospel in their own cultures.
MET has determined not to take ownership of any aspect of the work in any of the sixteen countries in which the Lord has allowed them to assist, but to trust in the knowledge and faithfulness of the saints in the local assemblies.
Thomas and Dietburg, as well as the whole MET team, want to take this opportunity to thank the Lord’s people for their continued prayers and for giving them the privilege to serve the Lord in this way.